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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Costume College on a Budget

Another Costume College has come and gone, and wonderful memories were made again.  Its so nice to visit with people I only get to see in person once or twice a year.  The theme this year was Hollywood 1920 to 1955.   Yes!   Finally I can go to CoCo with no bustles, wigs, petticoats and polonaises.  I had six costumes, and they were all between $8 to $20!  Here is what I wore:     
Thursday Night Pool Party.   Five of us decided to go tiki themed. My friend Cat and I were in the LA fabric district several months ago, and we shared the cost of six yards of a cotton tiki print we found on sale at Island Fabrics (3 yards each).  I can’t remember the exact cost, but it was not more than $5 a yard (so about $15 for this dress).  Val got a similar Tiki fabric, and April and Joanne were lovely in blue and green tropical dresses. The theme of the pool party was Carmen Miranda, and there were plenty of ladies with "tutti fruiti" hats!

Friday Day. The Bottle Brigade!  This was a fun project that snowballed.   Joanne and I were shopping at Yardage Town one day and found the cutest retro bottle print.  There were two background colors, cream and pink.  I think this dress cost me around $20. Well, I was a natural for the pink and Joanne bought the cream.  I told Cat about it, and she said "I think I have that fabric too!"  Sure enough, she had it in the cream!  She also made hers up first and added some vintage blue rick rack.  She gave me some to put on my dress.  I then told April about our dresses and said she should get the pink to even us out.  She did!!  Here we are, a matched set.  (Note, after CoCo, a friend asked if she could be in the bottle brigade, as she found the same print in a turquoise background!  Yay!  Now we need one more blue to even us out.  Any volunteers?)  Cat made darling cigar box purses, and brought a ton of them up with us.  Look at our cute purses!

 Friday Evening.  Ice Cream Social.   I love Barbie dresses.  I have always wanted one with pink roses.  This dress fabric was only $1.50 a yard, so the whole dress only cost around $7.50! I lined the top with scraps, and wore a pink crinoline I got at a thrift store for $6 under it.  Joanne wore her lovely Regency gown to the social.

I used Vintage Vogue 1957 pattern number 2903.  Now, I tried to make this a week before leaving for CoCo, only working in the evenings.  I admit I rushed through it, and when I got to the sleeves, I messed up.  I was trying it on after sewing in the sleeves by pulling it over my head.  I got stuck.  Bad.   That dress would not go up or down, and my arms were straight up in the air.  I hollered HELP!!!   Jerry had to inch it up my arms to get me out of it.  Once out, after gasping for air, I threw it in the corner and decided not to fix the sleeves.  Five minutes later, I just ripped off the sleeves and made it sleeveless!  It fit fine without them.  Oh, and these cute pink shoes?  Joanne found them for me in a thrift store for $3.50.

Saturday Day.  Class Time.   Since I was wearing my pink crinoline under everything I was glad my class on Saturday was - making your own crinoline!  I wore my cherry dress, which was only $1.50 a yard so this dress was about $6.  This was retro 1952 Butterick pattern number 5033.   I wait until Butterick has their $1-2 pattern sales, and I just buy about 3-5 every sale.  I love pinup hair, so out came the Victory Rolls again along with a 40's hair net for the back of my head.  I actually popped into a 40's hair class just as they were discussing this very look!  This picture was taken in the hospitality suite which was decorated in a USO theme.  It was really cute!  Below I am with Val in her gorgeous Edwardian pink and white stripe Summer gown.

Saturday Night.  The Gala!   This is where I repurposed an old gown.   Years ago, I attended the Masquerade of Jareth Ball in a black and white gown.  (see picture) I was pondering what to wear walking down the red carpet Hollywood style.  I needed to be glamorous.  I have always loved the photograph of Audrey Hepburn in black gown and tiara, and decided I would take that modern “prom dress” and turn it into a 50's ball gown. So, I borrowed one of Val’s tiaras and Cat did the cutest updo for me, with a side curl down one side.

                                            On the skirt of the dress were white diagonal strips going around.  I took them all off. I bought $1 a yard black tulle, about 6 or 7 yards, and gathered it around the waist of the dress.  For the top layer I splurged and got a few yards of sparkle tulle at Walmart at $3 a yard.  I then softened the bodice with two layers of tulle.  The topper was my mother’s white fox stole. Bad Cindy.  But everyone at CoCo wears fur, so I made an exception.  Walking with Vanessa as Rita Hayworth in her black dress and white fox, and Cat as Jean Harlow in her beautiful white bias dress and stole, we were quite elegant.

Sunday Day.  Hollywood Awards Tea.   I love my tea dress.  I hit a sale at Frock You, a vintage clothing store here in San Diego.  It fit great and was only $23!   I got the shoes on clearance for $10 at Burlington that were a perfect color match.  Cat’s white flowers in my hair and pale pink gloves made a perfect tea outfit!

 You can see from my picture how tired I was by Sunday, but I love this dress!!!  Joanne looked lovely in Regency.  This was the perfect ending to a wonderful week at Costume College. 

This year I was the assistant tea mistress to Val, who did a great job planning this year's tea.  Next year's Costume College theme is Cavaliers with a touch of Pirate - and I will be tea mistress next year.  Gee, wonder what my tea theme will be????

I also had my Marie Antoinette tea gown in the costume display exhibit, so people were able to see it that didn’t go to Myth Masque ball!

I had a wonderful weekend, and enjoy reading other attendees’ blogs and stories.  You can read Val's blog at timetravelingincostume.blogspot.com


  1. LOL! Even tho we were staying in the same room, I didn't get to see you in some of these! How weird is that? I don't care how tired we all were, we looked great!

    1. Gee you're right! Did I see you on Saturday Day?????? LOL!

  2. Fantastic!! You looked so cute all weekend!

  3. I bought the exact same bottle fabric and made a retro apron for a friend. These pics and looks are great!

  4. Mrs. B, isn't it the cutest print? There is a similar one that is books on shelves. Have you seen it?

  5. Wonderful article Cindy! Great photos....looks like you all had so much fun, wish I could have been there but like you, money is really getting tight for me. I'd love to make a "bottle dress"...if I run into it somewhere I'll see if I can do a few yards in the turquoise....the Santee Yardage Town is gone now so....

  6. As one costumer to another, I love your blog. You have an award waiting for you on mine.

  7. WOW! You are the thrift queen. I just read what you spent on these outfits. I bow to you!

    1. LOL Lyric! You can find ways when you are broke! :)