This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**



About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a membor of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1850s turquoise plaid dress- My “Young Victoria” gown

I’m in the planning stages of a new project, and I always get really excited at this part of it. I am really hoping I’ll get this made in time to wear it in the Riverside (CA) Dickens Fair fashion show. It’s a month away and if the fitting goes well, there’s a chance I might be able to finish it. I plan on using a purchased bonnet I have so that won’t slow me down.
I was very impressed by the gowns in the recent movie of Young Victoria, about the young Queen of England. This led me to start searching for actual photos or drawings of gowns from the years around late 1840s to 1850s. I really liked the bell shape of the skirts at this time, and saw a couple with a deep V in the neckline, with a pretty chemisette under it. I was really excited when I came across this photo of Queen Victoria in 1845 holding the young Prince Edward. And she was wearing the deep V neck that I so liked. I can’t tell what color her gown is but it looks like a solid with no pattern design.

I knew I wanted mine made with a plaid after I saw this fashion print.It’s trim along the V-neck is scalloped and matches the scalloped tiers on the skirt.

And the clincher was this blue plaid. I love these sleeves with the lace ruffles and smaller sleeve sticking out on it. It’s similar to the green plaid but has a fringe as it’s trim along the V and the sleeves.

These are other versions of a similar dress, and also gives me ideas for hairstyles, which I’m going to try with a wig of long straight hair.


I saw this Simplicity 3855 pattern made up, and other than the very large pagoda sleeves, it was exactly what I wanted. And I found the silk taffeta plaid I thought would look good with it.


My skirt won’t be the same shape as this pattern, but a narrower bell shape which gets its shape from a corded petticoat under it. I may not have that done in time for the fashion show and I’m hoping my ruffled petticoat will support it enough until I get one made.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another wearing of my 1860s olive green gown


Last night was our costume guild's annual Xmas dinner where we go to a restaurant in Old Town San Diego during their Holiday in the Park event. The Old Town Park is a living history museum with the town preserved back to it's original buildings. It burned down in 1873, and is a rough Californio settlement. During the Holiday event, everything is decorated for the holidays as it was back then, with tours and singing. Some of the little shops are our favorites, like the Johnson House which has costume accessories. We've bought hat forms, jewelry, shawls, vests, and other things they've gotten in that work with our costumes. It's not all historically correct but still a fun place and so pretty. Then there's Capt'n Fitches who carry all the Dover fashion print softbound books. The stores give guild members a 10-20% discount on everything, so we do all our shopping on this night.
Then we had our dinner at the recently renovated Cosmopolitan Hotel in their inside courtyard.
I wore my olive green 1860s gown, and added my antique fur muff (which includes the fox's head, who is named Oscar).




We stood out in front of various buildings, and were swamped by the public taking photos of us. So we had a chance to enjoy everything and the public enjoyed us.

Here I'm sitting in front of the Johnson House.

This was our whole group at the restaurant.
The rest of my photos can be found in my Flickr album. http://www.flickr.com/photos/26036741@N00/sets/72157625583244074/