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Costume College: Costume Highlights

There are too many wonderful costumes to post here, but my Flickr albums for ThursdayFriday, Saturday and Sunday contains the rest. Some of my favorites from the weekend follow!

Elizabeth’s French court gown is a showstopper.

DSCN0946We had a lot of fun with our outfits.

DSCN0962Here is Natalie in her fantastic embroidered Game of Thrones dress.DSCN0822Check out those sleeves!DSCN0824The colors on these bustle dresses by DodiRose and Rebecca are wonderful.DSCN0864

Kim’s yellow Regency dress and hat are so charming.DSCN0914 Sahrye’s makeup was impressive.DSCN0968Merja’s work is always so expertly tailored.IMG_2351Chrissy’s 1830s gown and hair were lovely.DSCN1008 I loved this beautiful 1920s dress.DSCN1015This lady in white, and Gina in black were so beautiful!DSCN1018I liked Samantha’s ensemble . . .IMG_2301. . . especially the blackwork!IMG_2302This lady’s hat was by far the largest at the tea, and all weekend.DSCN1104 This gentleman was having a great time, and all the ladies whooping at him were too!DSCN0983

Costume College 2014 Summary

I am back from Costume College and it was incredibly fun! There were so many wonderful costumes I will have to put into a separate post. I still have a lot of laundry and unpacking, plus 600 photos to sort through, but here is a summary with my outfits. When I get the pictures from the professional photographer at CoCo I can make some more detailed posts about each ensemble.

I was there Thursday-Monday, and roomed with Natalie of Frolicking Frocks and Elizabeth, who works for Laughing Moon Patterns.


We left Natalie’s house in the morning and drove down to Woodland Hills. When we got to downtown LA we made a stop at the FIDM Museum, which was featuring a number of TV costumes and antique corsets. The highlight was the display of outfits from Downton Abbey, including several court presentation ballgowns such as Lady Rose’s Robe de Styles dress. The beautiful items were not behind glass, so we could examine them very closely! Unfortunately, photography was not allowed.

Arrival at the hotel was a madhouse. Hundreds of costumers were descending with their luggage, garment bags and hat boxes. Everyone had so much stuff. It was the first time in my life I needed to use a bellhop. I hope those guys made lots of tips that day!

That evening was the pool party, which was pretty casual. Some people dressed in costume, but there were a lot of tiki and cute retro outfits. It was dark outside, and I did not have my good camera with me, so here is a stock photo of my nautical anchor sheath dress from eShakti. I wore them with a red headband and red/white shoes.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 2.05.49 PMFRIDAY

For most of the day I wore a cream regency dress and my navy pelisse and bonnet, all of which I have posted previously.IMG_2224I attended the Freshmen Orientation, which was a nice informative class for first-timers that explained what to do and where to do it. Afterwards, I watched “18th Century Hairstyling Demo,” run by Kendra van Cleave of Demode.  I haven’t had time to read my copy of her book yet, but it is filled with lots of lovely glossy pictures and step-by-step instructions. I received good advice to not completely fill my day with classes because the social aspect of CoCo is a major part of the fun, so I took a break for a few hours to eat and take pictures of beautiful costumes.

After lunch I took “Regency Bib-Front Dress,” taught by JoAnn Peterson of Laughing Moon. Elizabeth modeled a finished sample of the bib-front dress pattern, which looks so easy and comfortable to wear. There were also examples of several extant gowns that JoAnn brought to the class and let us examine!

After another snack break I took “How to Make Death’s Head Buttons” by Amy Lee Karow-Thara. We each received a button form, thread, needle and pin and made our own button while Amy demonstrated using a large dinner-plate sized wooden button and spool of yarn. (For a pin she used a giant hat pin with a ping-pong ball). It was a very useful class.

Friday night was the Ice Cream Social and I dressed up in 1830s Romantic, which I wore in April to the Gaskells Ball. I also reused the wig, and did not have time to restyle it. The pretzel shape on the top of my wig flopped over and exposed the peony on the back, but I think it looked intentional since Kendra was nice enough to say my hair looked “fabulous.” I wore American Duchess shoes and the purse is something my mom found in a gift shop.


Right after the ice cream social the marketplace opened up, and I went to look at things the vendors were selling. The vintage trims I acquired will be the subject of a future post.


Saturday I wore my WWII era All American Girls Baseball League uniform. There were 7 “Kenosha Comets” on our team. I made the dress and belt, and bought the hat, shoes and socks. I will post more details and group photos when we get our pictures!

IMG_2271On the second class day I went to “Hairpiece Basics: Crinoline Era,” taught by Bridget Bradley-Scaife and Lana Lily. This was a great class, full of practical and useful information. I am not good about styling my own hair (hence the wig for 1830s) so I liked seeing how the instructors were able to demo 5 hairstyles in an hour and a half. Like me, they also did not have particularly long hair themselves, and showed how to use your own hair mixed in with curled and braided hairpieces. I also got lots of recommendations on items to buy.

Next I went to “Early Victorian Corded Petticoats” by Jennifer Rosbrugh. She went over two basic methods of making corded petticoats and showed both modern and extant examples, which was nice. I took a lunch break before attending the “Ribbons, Who Would Have Thought” lecture by Candace Kling, a master ribbon artist. She had so many beautiful examples to show us, and it was a very enjoyable class.

Afterwards I changed and went out to the “red carpet” event, where I saw so many beautiful pieces that put my costume to shame. I wore an 18th century inspired ensemble of both new and old pieces that I will discuss later. The shoes and clocked stockings are from American Duchess.


Sunday morning was the “Belles and Beaux” breakfast, where we were instructed to wear undies and wrappers. I did not have time to make anything, so I am wearing a kimono-style bathrobe purchased from Amazon, a regency chemise, leather flats and a vintage beaded monkey necklace. The pockets in the robe were quite useful.


Afterwards we lined up for the Bargain Basement, which was a garage sale of donated items benefiting the CoCo Scholarship fund. I got some ivory and striped silk, and some yellow dotted trim I will use for my next Gatsby dress.

I went back to my room for a nap before going to “Can You Really Do That to Shoes” by Margot Silk Forrest. The class focused on painting modern shoes, not embellishing historical shoes, but I did get a few useful tips. I was supposed to take “Make a Pair of Mechanical Wings” Sunday morning, but the class got cancelled.

For the afternoon Fantasy Tea, which was themed “Ascot Ladies Day,” I wore my 1920s outfit. I made the dress, slip, hat and purse and purchased other accessories. (Close-ups in a future post).

IMG_2355The tea party was a lot of fun, with decent food. I have had better tea food, but overall it was still worth the ticket for the atmosphere.

After the party I went to my last class. I did not originally intend to take “How to Teach at Costume College” because I am not an expert in anything, but some friends were taking it, and it was nice to see what happens “behind the scenes,” and how they pick classes.

I changed into another casual dress from eShakti for a pizza party in someone’s room, where we discussed our costuming plans for next year, before packing and going to bed.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.58.29 PMMONDAY

Monday check-out was again a madhouse of costumers and luggage, but we were on the road by 10. On the way home we stopped for lunch and peeked into an antique shop and candy store nearby. Natalie found a charming box of antique pins in paper wrappers in excellent condition, and I got a coffin-shaped tin of mints.

More CoCo posts to come: other costumes, purchases, next year’s themes, my outfit details.

I am so excited for next year!

Costume College is Coming!

There is less than one week left until Costume College! I was unexpectedly sick for a while, then busy with work, so I did not get everything I wanted to completed. However, I am not too disappointed since I do have two new outfits, and I have plenty of old stuff to wear. I think it is a good use of my remaining time to try on outfits and accessories to make sure everything is complete, then pack as I go, to reduce my worry that I’ll show up and realize I’ve forgotten the matching stockings or shoes for a particular outfit.

My tentative plan:

Thursday: Arrive, unpack and put on a retro sailor-themed outfit for the pool party. But which one!? I realized that I have 4 nautical-themed dresses, and that’s only because I sold one. If I count navy-colored dresses I have 6, I think.

Friday: Wear Regency during the daytime and my 1830s Romantic gown for the evening ice cream social. I heard the rooms are AC’d so I hope it’s not too hot to wear my pelisse and bonnet.

Saturday: Wear my WWII-era women’s baseball uniform during the day and 18th century during the evening gala. (I made a waistcoat, but did not finish the embroidery on the frock coat or start the pants, so I am deciding whether to wear my old 18th century male drag outfit, or silk mini-length sack back).

Sunday: Put on a kimono wrapper over casual clothes for Sunday Undies breakfast, then take off the wrapper and run to my morning class on mechanical wings. (It might be messy, so I don’t want to dress too nicely, and didn’t have time to make my steampunk mechanic jumper). After class I’ll get dressed for the tea party. I am wearing a 1920s outfit, and deciding between my pink/green dress and cloche, or white/green dress with big hat.


Regency Pelisse

I have finished my navy Regency pelisse that goes with my bonnet.


There are no progress shots to share since sometimes I worked on this for literally a few minutes here and there over the past year. Sometimes all I had time to do was sew on a hook and eye.


The fabric is a jacquard woven with a subtle diamond pattern. I’m not sure of the fiber content since I found it as a remnant. I’m sure it’s at least partially synthetic, but I liked the texture.

The lining is gold and cream jacquard, and the sleeves are lined with satin. The coat is military-inspired, with cream braid down the front, on the belt and sleeves cuffs, and around the edges of the pointed collar. The front and back are decorated with gold-colored and faux pearl buttons, but the coat closes with hooks and eyes. The belt has a golden buckle.


I used the Sense and Sensibility “Regency Spencer Jacket and Pelisse Pattern” as a starting point, but made new sleeves and collar. (A quick note about this pattern: I was disappointed to find it is not actually a pelisse pattern, although it is advertised as such. It is really a spencer jacket pattern only, with some instructions telling you to just add a skirt to lengthen it. Although that wasn’t terribly difficult to do, when I buy a pattern it is because I want to pay someone else to do the math).

The pelisse has some wrinkles to work out, but overall I am pretty pleased with it, and plan to wear it to Costume College.


I still have to paint some shoes to match, but I think it will look nice with the bonnet.

bonnet side

Project cost (not including bonnet materials):

- 3 yards fabric: $29.99 + tax

- pattern: $12 + $3 shipping

- 8 yards braid: $7.60 + tax

lining, interfacing, buttons, thread, hooks and eyes: from the stash

Less than $60. Not bad.

The Hopeless Romantics Invade Gaskell Ball, 1830s Style!

There were so many beautifully made gowns at Gaskell Ball. Most of us used the same pattern, but I loved all the variations in fabric choice and trimming.

We made a lovely rainbow!


And had a ton of fun!


Here I am with the other pale-colored ladies.


Kim had such a cute doll-like shorter dress.


Natalie of Frolicking Frocks looked just like a fashion plate.


Breana of Mothball Fleet had such a daring and darling color combination, with perfect piping.


Elizabeth had a bodice with impressive detailing, and a padded hem.


Amanda’s dress looked great in motion.


Samantha had such a cute bow sash.


Jean-Anne went for a bold print that worked out great.


Jenny looked elegant in white.


Christina of The Laced Angel used an old sari, to great effect.


Kathy of Stuff I Sew had an impressively smocked dress. Read the details here!


Monica had charming little fans and tucks on her dress.


Kaila had really lovely piping and pleats.


Cassandra’s dress reminded me of a Disney princess.


You’ve seen mine, so here’s a silly photo.


I am looking forward to next year’s theme!

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 6): Finished Dress and Hair

Last night I had a fantastic time dressing up with a large group of other ladies wearing Romantic Era gowns (and crazy 1830s hair) at the Gaskell Ball in Oakland, CA. (I will be posting photos of everyone in my next entry!) I finished my dress with a few days to spare, but did not have time to work on the hair until the last day.


(I didn’t have time to make a new petticoat, and the old one is a little longer and less poofy than I would like, but that is a project for next time).


I was very pleased with the way the sheer sleeves came out. I was fretting before about how to pattern them, then went for the easiest approach. I took a yard of fabric, sliced it down the middle, French seamed the pieces to make 2 tubes, and gathered the ends into the armhole or wrist openings.


The bodice is pleated and embellished with pink and green embroidered lace and little pink ribbon flowers with pearls in the centers. The back of the neckline is also pleated.

1830s bodice

The cuffs are made with the same embroidered lace I have on the bodice neckline. The waist is trimmed with a green scrap of fabric (leftover from a Titanic, and then Gatsby project). The pearl and rhinestone buckle was purchased from Britex.


The hem is trimmed with embroidered tulle lace, as you previously saw.


I struggled with the hair, and it is a little sloppier than I wanted, but I think it’s a decent first try. A  number of people asked me if it was my real hair!


I forgot to buy a foam head, so I used a stuffed toy monkey. I bought a long black wig, and split it into 3 sections. I made 2 fat braids and pinned them into Princess Leia-style cinnamon buns.


The middle section was braided and left for the moment.

I then used another large piece of fake hair that I split into 2 braids (with wire braided in). I formed pretzel loops and sewed that to the wig, and then used the little braid from the main wig to wrap around the base. I pinned a fake peony in the back, and put some little roses and butterflies into the buns.


I decorated the front with a little fake bird, a birdcage and some feathers.


I had a lot of fun with this project!

Final cost rundown (not including fake hair):

Silk taffeta, linen lining, hook-and-eye tape, bird, feathers, flowers, cage: from the stash

Tulle lace: $27.96

Floral lace $11.91

Organza: $3.10

Pearl buckle $9.73

Total $52.70*

*well, I did spend about $200 on silk a few years back, but we’re talking new expenses here. =)

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 5): Bodice

I haven’t done a lot of sewing in the past few weeks because I started work again and have had some long hours. However, here is a sneak peek at the bodice in progress.


I put on the puff sleeves and started the sheer ones. The neckline has lace. I still need to fuss with the fitting (since the heavy sleeves are pulling things down), the gathers and the cuffs on the sheer sleeves.  The front will be embellished with some little pink flowers.


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