It’s been a month since Costume College ended — I can hardly believe it! This was only my second year attending, and it was already loads better than last year, which is saying something.
Last year I met Christina (who we’re still working on convincing to start a blog!) and Victoria (of The Timeless Closet) at the Friday Night Social; because of them, I spent the past year going to historical events and meeting more and more talented costuming women. That means that this year, I came to Costume College looking forward to socializing with everyone I’ve come to know since my first year!
I also got to know some Instagram costumers, including a group of girls that I had planned a group project with for Friday night: all of us would wear a fabulous robe a la francaise!
Even though next year, I have a wedding to attend (as bridesmaid, no less!) the following weekend, I’m still planning on attending Costume College 2018! I have big plans — naturally.
Here are some highlights from the fabulous weekend that was Costume College 2017!
As I’ve already written about the event as well as my white anglaise, my levite is the most in need of explanation! This will be a photo heavy post, with less explanation, so read on for some pretty pretty pictures.
With too many events happening to keep track of them, I won’t have space to recount them all on the blog if I don’t get to it!
A couple of weeks into February, we had the second annual Revolutionary War reenactment at Huntington Beach (my city!): The Revolution! This was my first time attending, as I’m a newbie to reenacting despite my years of costuming.
Today on the blog I’m starting a new series — and it’s all about commonly forgotten details in historical costuming. There are a couple of things I’ve realized lately that I had never noticed before: small details, little elements that are present on these dresses we’re recreating but we may not really notice.
Generally, they’re not vital to the construction of a garment, so I think they’re easy to overlook. However, including these little features can take your historical recreations to the next level, and as I make new discoveries I will share them with y’all!
Hello, my lovelies, from the flip side of the New Year! Having properly rung in 2017, I think I’m not the only one to be looking forward and planning for the year to come. Already I’m getting off to a busy, busy start with my costumes for 2017 – February is an especially big month for me, and I plan to do it WELL.
Most of my costuming plans usually revolve around what events there are, and what I’m missing or what I need to replace for that era. I’ve been rapidly expanding my costumes and accessories since Costume College 2016, which means pretty soon I’ll be able to branch out into a different era or make some more extravagant, less “necessary” pieces.
Even though the pretty, pretty princess dress is A Necessity. Absolutely.
In February I have a Rev War weekend and a super secret, super exciting 1860s weekend (details to follow when the time comes!). This week, I went ahead and updated my cotton anglaise and made a simple voile fichu for the 18th century. My 1860s plans are… yet to be started. Eek! But I hope to get on those SOON.
So, without further ado… My list of items I hope to get through this year!
A hat or two: I already have a bergere hat (in need of trim) and am in the process of making a floofy poofy late 18th c. hat!
A cap: necessary to cover up bad/lazy hair, amirite?
Silk francaise: because I want to be a princess. I am going PINK!
Mitts: so quintessentially period and at times more useful than gloves (i.e. touch screen phones)
New stays: I include this one grudgingly… I really need new stays, but my old ones get me by, and I’m lazy. We’ll see if I get a boost and decide to redo them.
Chemise a la reine: I’ve always wanted one! Why not make this the year? This is a “maybe” item.
Sleeveless spencer: I cut out the pieces for this quick project today, as a way to update my plain (and ill-fitting) white dress for a Regency dance at the end of the month. It’ll look almost exactly like the portrait below, down to the blue velvet that I just happened to have on hand!
Block-printed day dress: this project has been a UFO for a long time now. And it’s half finished, too! There’s a two-day Regency event in March (I think), so I finally have a reason to kick myself in gear.
Ball gown: for the same event as above. Shockingly, I don’t have an evening dress for this period even though Regency is near and dear to me. Though for some reason, I’ve always preferred the daywear of this era to the evening wear. Below are a few ideas I don’t hate…
Shoes: I won’t make these, but I may customize them. Proper shoes are desperately needed!
Bonnet: Another necessity. I have a bonnet from the earlier years that I could update so it looks more accurate… but I kind of want to go all out and get a stovepipe from Timely Tresses, and make it up in an outrageous pumpkin color. I’m also debating making a less commonly seen style, since there are SO MANY styles of hat from the Regency that go unrepresented.
Spencer/pelisse: there is some lovely beige cotton velvet waiting in my stash to become a spencer! I also have a mostly finished pelisse in black wool that needs a lining and trim/closures, but I’d really like to cut a new body for it so we shall see… A spencer/pelisse would be a “maybe” item.
Wool day dress: I really don’t have a “proper” 1860s dress that I’m proud of, so I’d really like to make one ASAP. I’m thinking either solid gray or a nice plaid, with silk or velvet trim.
Update white plaid two-piece dress: This dress really needs a new front piece cut (it’s just a tad too small) and the whole bodice needs to be interlined. This was made before I knew about interlining, years and years ago!
Updated ball gown: I’m either going to improve on the white Christmas gown or the mauve one from CoCo (likely the former). I want to GO BIG!
Bonnet: I already ordered the bonnet form and have some lovely blue silk to cover it!
Parasol: I have a cheap-o frame that needs a nice new silk cover. Either black or white (though I’m tempted to go with one of those WILD plaids)
New hair pieces: hair is a BIG focus of mine at the moment, and I want to spend some time exploring and building my hair wardrobe.
New underthings: I don’t have a proper chemise to wear with the wide shouldered evening gowns, and I really need new drawers.
Paletot and/or velvet cape: I’m debating whether I need one or both of these (or neither) for my February event. It IS a weekend and mostly outdoors, and it’s been known to rain but… we’re also in Southern California, so rain is an anomaly. The cape would be for the ball. Thoughts?
For CoCo I’m debating making an early bustle evening gown. I’ve always adored this era (I think because of Amy’s outfits from Little Women) but I’ve never made a dress! I would need a bustle, several petticoats, and – of course – the gown itself.
Well, that certainly sounds like more than enough, doesn’t it? The most important items for each era are at the top of the list. I’m not sure if I’ll get through everything, but I’m sure gonna try!
What are your costuming plans for this year?
Are you like me, and you only really get into gear when an even is looming closer and closer? (#procrastination)
This year has been a very special one for me. Health issues aside, I’ve been able to produce what is, to me, a huge amount of me-made creations. I know other people sew more but… I’m so proud of myself! And with the new costumes came new opportunities to wear them, and plenty of new friends.
Though I was sewing vintage all year round, and previous years as well, I only took up historical costuming again in June. Prior to that, it had been years since I dedicated myself to new historical creations in a serious way. (Although, in my “casual” costuming years, I managed to produce a Regency chemise and pair of short stays à la Bernhardt, both hand sewn. I still need to photograph these, as I’m quite happy with them.)
If it wasn’t for Costume College, I doubt I would be this deeply immersed in historical costuming once again. Thanks to a suggestion from my friend Ellen (@sharpscissors on Instagram), I actually believed I could make CoCo – an event I’ve been dreaming of for several years – a reality this year. And I did it!
It’s been a bit of a jolt getting back into costuming in some ways, though I’m pleased with my progress and I’m eager to keep on going. I’m trying to be gentle with myself since a lot of this is unfamiliar again after being away from costuming for so long – “don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle” is the mantra that keeps me sane. That being said, I have BIG, ambitious plans for 2017 already!
Here are the few costumes I managed to crank out in the last half year.
1 + 2) My 1860s chemise and Cinderella blue corset. Unfortunately I only have very very poor photos for both of these pieces, and the blue color is hard to capture!
3) My 1860s ballgown, the first Victorian garment in something like six years… And my first time working with silk taffeta! It has some fit issues, but I’ve learned a lot.
4 + 5) A rich ruby late 1790s open robe that I had been dreaming about for a long time. It is fastened in front with an antique cut steel buckle. #5 is the matching reticule, which blends in here.
6) A cotton anglaise, hand sewn in a week from an IKEA duvet cover. This will be getting some trim and a matching petticoat shortly!
7) My most recent make, a new ballgown bodice perfect for Christmas! It was finished in a BIG hurry (hence the ends of my bodice lace didn’t get tacked down), but it got done nonetheless. Unfortunately I had dreaded lampshade hoop because I insisted on wearing my prettiest petticoat… which is also my tightest petticoat… and it smushed everything. I didn’t notice until it was too late because I got dressed in the restroom right before the dinner started! I’m giving my hair an honorable mention because I’m already seeing improvement there, and I’m so happy with how it turned out.
Though I started this section of the blog long after Costume College ended, why not go back and relive it? I’ve been following CoCo and lusting after the costumes and the knowledge and the camaraderie for many, many years. Since I was a young teenager, I’ve had such admiration for the bloggers and costumers who made such glorious garments and showed them off at this event!
I will admit that I get very starstruck, so I didn’t quite work up the courage to approach all of the ladies I know from their blogs and pictures.
Christina (no blog) and Victoria of The Timeless Closet.
After meeting them both the first night, I’ve since gone to many events with them in the area!
On top of that, there were countless gorgeous dresses to admire from people who I’ve never seen before – and opportunities to make new friends! There’s something about a beautiful costume to form friendships right away. Squeals and gasps from everyone, followed by a quick run up to the talented person with questions about their fit, fabric, and methods. Evening socials, and sometimes even walks through the halls, were really just unabashed events to revel in costume geekery.
I got the chance to meet several Instagram friends, like Ellen (@sharpscissors) and Meg (@nutmegsews)!
Otherwise, I wore vintage era clothing that I made myself. Costume College actually has a strong vintage tilt as well (I heard this is growing?), so I wasn’t the only one sporting these eras! All of the outfits I wore have been blogged about in the vintage section: my blue floral sateen dress, black rayon twinset, and my 1930s sporting outfit. Though we didn’t plan on it, my friend Rachel and I matched pretty much every day!
My ballgown was my first Victorian costume in something like five or six years, so it didn’t turn out as perfectly as I would like. The problem I often have is that my eye and awareness of fit and historical style exceed my skill to recreate it. That causes a lot of disappointment, but I gained a sense of what to do differently for my next ballgown – which I’m currently making now, with hope that it will be even better than the last! As my patternmaking instructor says, you can only learn by making mistakes.
But I’m in love with the luster and color of my silk. It looks so gorgeous fanned out in those pleats that I couldn’t bear to trim it, though I initially planned to!
Next time, I’m looking for a better fitted bodice, a more accurate looking bertha, and more attention to perfect piping. The neck and armscye piping looked fine, but I wasn’t happy with the double piping at the waist. The good thing about making mistakes is that you can improve the next time around 🙂
All in all, Costume College was an amazing weekend offering knowledge, friendship, and socialization for like-minded individuals. A truly unforgettable time – I will be back next year!
Happy Halloween! Things have been busy busy busy lately! After my first Costume College in July, I’ve finally gotten more involved in the costuming world. My most recent make is this robe a l’anglaise. I attend a monthly tea and dance that generally has a Victorian theme, but an upcoming dance was a colonial one – an exciting proposition when I haven’t worn this era in many years!
My only option, however, was a long-sleeved wool dress that was fully lined, and the day promised to be one of the hottest of the year. No thank you! The prospect of a new dress was exciting, despite my one week deadline, so I ran out to Ikea and picked up the Ljusöga duvet cover.
I’ve been sewing for many years. The focus of my site, my Instagram, and many of my days is vintage sewing but… I actually got my start with historical costuming! After attending Costume College for the first time in July, I’ve been inspired to go back to my roots.
Historical costuming gives me such joy. What else offers the opportunity to send you back in time, to allow you to be a lady one day and working class the next, to mold your body into a variety of fantastical silhouettes? I find the experience of putting on my costumes to be transformative, and that’s an addicting, exhilarating feeling.