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, December 22, 2015

The Rosy Christmas Dress

I recently joined a remarkable group of women known as the Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society.  At the moment, I am a "Budding Rose", a Victorian Rose in training.  I was able to participate in my first parade this month, and wanted a new dress to wear in the parade, and for the San Diego Costume Guild annual holiday dinner.  

I decided to use my favorite Truly Victorian pattern, Parisian Trained Skirt.  I paired it with the Truly Victorian Day Bodice.  Off to the fabric district I went with my friend Val in search of rosy colors.  On a limited budget as usual, I narrowed my search to two fabrics: a burgundy with embroidered flowers, and a pale pink.  We met up with our mutual friends Karin and Adam, and had a great time searching for what we all needed.  I found the perfect embroidered burgundy at Home Fabrics, on sale for $5 a yard.  At LA Fred's, I found a matching pink faux dupioni for $3 a yard! 

I made fabric covered buttons for the bodice, and since it was for Christmas, lots of bows-three down each side and a large one near the bottom of the bustle.  I backed  some pretty white lace with the pink fabric.  I also pleated the pink around the cuffs and put the lace on top.   I put the same lace around the neckline.   The most expensive part of the skirt was the burgundy tassel trim. Six yards on the skirt!

 $35     Burgundy fabric 7 yards at $5     
$12     Pink fabric  4 yards at $3    
$15     Trim  6 yards at $2.50
$5       Covered Button kit
Total    $67

Following are some photos from the parade and in front of my mother's Christmas tree, before the Costume Guild holiday dinner.  Everyone at dinner was in their holiday finest, and its such a joy to celebrate with this wonderful group of people.   



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Polonaise - from Georgian to Victorian

A while back, my friend Val was selling some of her beautiful costumes to make room for new ones.  One of the first Costume Guild events I went to was a Marie Antoinette Tea.   For the tea, Val made a beautiful 18th Century outfit she called The Pumpkin  Val's Blog   which I always admired.   I purchased just the polonaise of the outfit, thinking I would make my own pannier skirt for it soon.

Well, my yearly fashion show for Gaslight Gathering was approaching, and between planning that, work, and other obligations, I knew I wouldn't have much time to make an entire outfit.  The theme I chose for the fashion show was Lets Go to the Movies!   All models would choose a period movie and make an outfit for the main character in the film.   

Looking through my saved inspiration photos for an easy Victorian gown, I came across a lovely dress from the mini series, Daniel Deronda.  This early bustle era movie was full of gorgeous gowns.  I already had a blue  bustle skirt, so I decided to alter the Georgian to a Victorian!

First, the bodice needed altering.  Here are photos of the Georgian version of the bodice, taken from Val's blog (link above).   Since the skirt was pleated to the bodice, I took apart the front bottom of the bodice and released the first two or three pleats, and brought them forward to meet in the middle.

Before Altering
I removed the sleeves, took a bit off the side seams and narrowed the sleeves.  Then I reattached the sleeves.
After Altering

 The next step was to add trim to the bodice to match the Victorian movie costume.  I found some cotton lace similar to the movie, and added white pleating around the neckline.  I then added some sleeve flounces.  You will notice that these are two different actresses.  This gown was actually used in two different movies, so I had more photos to look at!

The actress on the left is Georgia King in The Shadow in the North from 2007.   I used Georgia's jewelry choices, pearl necklace and earrings.

The actress below is Romola Garai in Daniel Deronda from 2002.  Also in Romola's photo is a lovely perch hat.  I tried making my own by reshaping a cheap straw hat, and failed miserably.   The day before the fashion show at Gaslight Gathering, I was in the vendor hall and found a pretty hat!

Underneath the blue skirt you can see a white,  pleated underskirt (see full length photo above).  I was relaxing in a cabin in the mountains over Labor Day weekend, and brought some white cotton and an iron with me.  I  cut yards of 7 inch strips, and cut a piece of cardboard from a lemon pie box I bought that day, using it as a guide to pleat the strips and iron them in place.   Since I had no machine to sew the pleats together, I used scotch tape to hold them in place until I got home.  Once home, I sewed them to the bottom of a plain white petticoat.

 For the belt she wears, I had a dupioni curtain panel in my stash.   I cut the header off that already had a stiff lining to it, and used a belt buckle from another outfit.

Here are a few pictures of the finished outfit.


$15  Polonaise to alter
$5    Trim
$14  White cotton for petticoat and pleats

Total    $34 for the outfit, plus hat purchase

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ariel Goes to Disneyland

This year has been hard for me to be able to sew my usual period gowns, so I have stuck to smaller projects.  I am gearing up for a big project, maybe for our Holiday party, which I will share with you :)

I was only able to go to Comic Con for one day this year, and the outfit I wanted to make will have to wait for next year, due to finances and a broken sewing machine.  I have a loaner machine now, so can continue on!

Being a Disneyland annual passholder and an Ariel/Little Mermaid fan, I decided to use my stash items to create a humorous outfit for Comic Con.    I had made a Mermaid Skirt  for Costume College two years ago, and brought it out again (see link).    However, this time, I used my Disney accessories to create a blow out ARIEL GOES TO DISNEYLAND outfit!

I did purchase a $9 wig for this, and that's about it.   I accessorized with Ariel Disney ears, bag, and a doll I received in a Disney Secret Walt gift exchange.  I have been collecting Ariel Disney pins for years, and brought those out too!  Here are some fun pics from the day.

On the trolley to the convention center.  Jerry is not amused!
My dinglehopper got stuck.

What's Under the Sea?

  These were taken behind the convention center, on the stairway leading down to the little harbor.  Little girls loved me, and wanted hugs and photos.  That was the best part of my day!.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Palm Springs Mid-Mod

We love to go to Palm Springs once or twice a year, usually for a birthday or special event. This last weekend we attended the Rock N’ Luau on Saturday.  Sunday was our day for antiquing and driving through the beautiful mid century modern neighborhoods.   My favorite neighborhood is called Vista Las Palmas.  When built in 1958-59 by the Alexander brothers, it was the Beverly Hills of Palm Springs.  Here the Rat Pack partied with Marilyn, Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon in the famous "House of Tomorrow", and dozens of other stars owned the desert homes. The floor plans were similar; long, low ranch houses, but the front of the houses had interesting architectural features, some designed by William Krisel and some by Charles Dubois.  Butterfly roofs, concrete block walls (by Krisel) and my favorite, the "Swiss Miss" (by Dubois).  There are around 15 Swiss Miss houses in this neighborhood.

I found the perfect Palm Springs dress fabric.   Made by Michael Miller, its called Mod Pad. I thought it would be fun to wear it while on one of our neighborhood tours.  It looks like this:


 Since I could only afford 3 yards, I searched for a simple sundress type pattern. I found a very easy Simplicity “Lisette” pattern, number 1419.   It used less than 3 yards.  It only took a few evenings to finish, and I really like the style.  I will be making more dresses from this pattern.  I made the view B, but without the collar. I cut it out to my measurements, but it runs large.  I can use a size smaller on the next dress I make from this pattern.

Dress cost:  3 yards fabric for $27
                   1 zipper  $1.50


Jerry has taken dozens of beautiful photos of these homes over the last few years. I would love to show you them all, but here are some of my favorite "Swiss Miss" homes :)


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

I have always loved this song, written by Bobby Troup in 1946 and sung by Nat King Cole.

If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Two things happened to get me more excited about the famous highway.  California Adventure opened Cars Land, a Route 66 themed land full of memorabilia and attractions based on the movie Cars.  The other thing is I found awesome fabric I just had to make a dress out of. I previously discussed the pattern and construction in my post from Tiki Day at Disneyland
This post is more of a photo shoot dedicated to the "Mother Road" than anything else. My daughter and I went to California Adventure, and she took some shots of our time there. I added a vintage vibe to the coloring.  Here are some of them.  Photo heavy!


My Route 66 bracelet from Etsy
Me, Tow Mater, and Amy

My Buick Parasol