When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Victorian Captain America!

Its that time of year again - Comic Con!   I had tickets for two days this year, instead of my usual one day.  I didn't want to spend too much time on costumes this year, so looked at what I had to build on.  I've done two different versions of Wonder Woman before (Victorian and Mod 60s) so I am over that.   I came across my red and white striped Victorian skirt I use in patriotic themed parades and events, and I immediately thought of Captain America.  Now I just need to make a bodice and over skirt.  I surfed on line for some themed prints.  I didn't see anything that wowed me, until I came across this awesome comic book print!  It was at Joanns, so I grabbed my gift card and off I went.   Casey, my helper kitty, worked as my pattern weight.  Finished the over skirt in one day.   Later on, after the bodice was finished, I added the gold fringe you see here.  I used the Truly Victorian Bustled Apron Over Skirt pattern.  


Next, the bodice.   I used my trusty Truly Victorian Day Bodice pattern, but did not want long sleeves.  I actually borrowed the sleeve pattern from a Regency dress I am making. and it worked out fine.  Not looking for historical accuracy, this is a fun outfit! WONKY BUTTON ALERT!  I cannot sew buttons on late at night because this happens!   Took two of the buttons off, and redid.  I ordered a Captain America patch on ebay, and sewed that on too. Added gold fringe.

Here is the finished outfit on my dress form.  Next, I needed a shield.   What is round that goes with a Victorian dress?  A parasol, of course!   I bought a white paper parasol on line at the Paper Lantern Store.  A small bottle each of red, white and blue paint, and here we are.

 Now, lets go to Comic Con!  I was stopped for lots of pictures, and did the Captain America Salute quite often.  Here are photos of me and two versions of the Captain.



I got a great plastic tote bag with the shield on it at the 99 cent store.  I did put a canvas tote inside it to make it sturdier, and it worked out well.

 Above, I had fun trying to find comic books that matched the ones on my over skirt.

Here are some of my friends, and a few of these photos are taken by them.  Upper right, Barbara.  Right, Jim.

Below, April, Jerry and Joanne.

Joanne and me.                                                             Carol, Tim and me.


       At the end of the day, looking frazzled and droopy. Good bye, Comic Con!
Over skirt - Free on gift card
Blue cotton for bodice  - $5.00
Gold Fringe - $10.00
Buttons - $5.50
Patch - $2.00
Parasol - $12.00 (includes shipping)
Paint - $4.50
Bag - $1

TOTAL $40.00

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Victorian "Photoshop": Portrait Manipulation

Hello everyone!

I wanted to let you know that I also write blog posts for my Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society group.   Rather than rewriting the entire post for my personal blog page, I am sharing the link here so you may read a short article about Victorian photo manipulation and portrait retouching.

There are some really great posts by others and myself on this blog as well.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sterling Silver Rose Bustle Gown

 I love Sterling Silver roses. They are the true and original lavender rose, being nearly thornless and having a sweet and citrusy fragrance. It is the parent or ancestor of nearly every single modern lavender variety today. This classic, heirloom rose has silver undertones, giving it an almost bluish cast.

I have been wanting a lavender bustle gown, so when Val said she was off to the fabric district, I asked her to pick me up some lavender taffeta. She brought home some beautiful fabric, a grey based lavender that changes to periwinkle, just like the rose, depending on the lighting.  I really wanted to play up the lavender tones, by using a deep purple.  I found a vintage flower pin at an antique show, along with gloves and necklace. A trip to Joann Fabrics gave me a floral print with both lavender and purple.
On Amazon, I found 9 yards of dark purple ball fringe for $9.99, so I added it to my want list.  I few days later, I saw an ad on Facebook that said "fill out our survey and we will send you a $10 Amazon card". I did the survey and 4 days later I received an email with a $10 credit code. I bought that trim and had a penny credit left over. Yay for free trim!   However, when I received it, it wasn't dark, it was a bright grape color! Boooooo.
I decided to dye it. Never having dyed anything before, I did a bit of research on the Rit Dye website. I chose to use their line of polyester dyes rather than the regular fabric dye. Of course it was twice as expensive as the regular dye. I spent about $10 on two bottles....there went my free trim!!!

I bought Royal Purple and to darken it a bit, Graphite.   I did several test pieces, with different amounts of the graphite added to the purple. The first test came out too dark. I used 3 teaspoons purple and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons graphite in 3 cups of water. Second test was 3 teaspoons purple to 1/2 teaspoon graphite.  The third and fourth tests were straight purple, at different soaking times.  I left them to dry overnight so I could see them in daylight.

In the morning I eliminated the last two strips that were straight purple, as they still had pinkish undertones and were too light.  The first strip was too dark, so the second test was the winner.

I did the math to increase the portions from 3 cups to 1 and 1/2 gallons.  I heated to 180-190 degrees, just under boiling.  I added 1/2 cup vinegar to help set it. After about 25 minutes, I pulled out the end and rinsed it off. It was too pinky purple. I added in another teaspoon of graphite.  Tested again in another 10 minutes, and it was almost there.  Another splash of graphite and 10 minutes more it was ready!

Right, icky grape trim ready to go in the pot.

Left, looks like blueberries boiling!  
While that is drying, lets talk about patterns.  I really love the Parisian Trained Skirt, which I have made several times.  I had 5 yards of lavender and 5 yards of floral.  I really had to get creative and stretch out the fabric.   My plan was to make this for the Dickens Fest fashion show.  I had all my fabric before Christmas.  Then I got hit with the nasty flu, followed by a bad double ear infection.  I lost 4 weeks of sewing time.  I almost backed out of the show, but I couldn't do that.   I finally felt better enough to give it a go.  I did have to change my fancy bodice to a regular day bodice I am familiar with making, as there was not enough time to do what I wanted.

I had to cheat on the skirt front, as I ran out of lavender.  Under the front double aprons  I used plain cotton for the entire front sections, and attached a strip of lavender at the bottom where it might show. You can see the cotton under the front apron, before I added the strip.  I pleated a five yard strip of lavender, and a second, smaller strip of the floral and attached to the hem.  Then I added the newly dyed ball trim.

I added ball trim to the bottom of the top apron.  Next, I cut out the bodice pieces, flat lined them with a heavy cotton, and sewed the sections together.   After attaching the peplum, I added the ball fringe.

  Below are progress shots.  The bodice is not sewed together, just kind of draped and pinned over the dress form.  I have enough fringe left to go across the bottom of  the bodice.

I still have to pick out buttons.  I'm not sure yet what kind to use.  I want to put a giant bow on the train peplum, and a smaller one on the bodice peplum.  Then I need to decorate the sides of the skirt.

Next, fitting the bodice!  I have no shoulders, so I will be cutting off at least an inch of the shoulder seam.  Also, the sleeves on Truly Victorian patterns are way too big for me.  I cut the sleeves 2 sizes smaller than the bodice size, and they were still to big.   I took full inch seams on them before they were right.  I prefer 3/4 sleeves when possible.
I bought some white trim for the side panels and around the neckline.  I used the same dye formula for this as well.  I didn't dye a test piece, which was a mistake.  It came out a little darker than I wanted.  That's ok.  I just added tiny while flower trim on top of it.   I also bought white pearl buttons in a silver setting, and some dark plum taffeta to make bows.

I am now about 95% finished here.  The back is just scrunched up, not officially bustled yet. the bows are just pinned on and not straight.  I can't button the bodice on my dummy, her bust is too big :)

I wore the dress to the Riverside Dickens Fest fashion show.   Its still not quite done in these photos.   I discovered the flower bunch for the front bodice is too heavy, and it kept pulling the bodice front down.  At the last minute, I moved it to the side for the show, but will need to put a bow or something else there.  I needed to pin it closed at the top, but forgot.  Also, I did not get the boning in yet.   Will edit this post later when completely done.


Here are a few photos from the show, taken by different guests.  As you can see, the color changes with the lighting.

Cost breakdown:

5 yards taffeta  $15.00
5 yards floral cotton  $20.00
Ball fringe - free with Amazon gift certificate
Dye for ball fringe $10.00
Buttons free with part of Joanns gift certificate
Lace for dust ruffle and purple taffeta for bows  $5.00
4 yards tiny white flower trim - free with part of Joanns gift certificate
1 yard heavy cotton for bodice lining  $4.00

TOTAL COST   about $54.00         
Gloves, flower pin and necklace - free!  I won a $20 gift certificate from the Del Mar antique show.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Quickie Holiday Hat

I decided to whip out a simple hat to go with my red and black plaid outfit which I would be wearing in a parade in two days.  I do have a hat to go with it, but its mostly black, and I wanted some color.

When we made our matching dresses, Val had taught me how to make what I call my "ridiculous hat", because its covered in boa and lace and is just - fun!  I took what Val taught me, and tweaked it with what I had laying around the house.


 The base Val and I used for our original hats was a piece of foam.  I didn't have any foam, so in my stash I found some quilt batting.  Using the ridiculous hat, I traced around the foam base on paper.  I used the paper as a rough pattern, and cut out 2 layers of quilt batting.

I did not worry about measuring anything or being too neat.  It all gets covered up in the end, and I was in a hurry!

Then I made a cover for the batting from two layers of burgundy cotton, and sewed around the edges, leaving the bottom edge open in the middle.
Again, I just eyeballed it, knowing it would be covered with trim.
I stuffed the batting in the opening, fluffed it up and whip stitched it closed. Then, I tried out the shape on a styrofoam head.  Next, I used this awesome faux wool wired ribbon to make ties, and sewed it to the two ends. 

 I pulled out some left over trims, and added a red and white lace around the edges, and some pom pom fringe around the face.  I also made a bow to attach to the back.  Its starting to look like a hat!

Next, I needed to fill in the middle.  I tried various holiday picks with small flowers, or pine needles and tiny pinecones, but it was just too busy.

I bought a quarter yard of red stretch velvet, and did 5 rows of gathering stitches.   I ruched it all up, and arranged it on top of the hat.   I cut off the excess, and hand stitched it down.

So that is my quick little Holiday Hat!