The Costume

Captain Cavedweller and I went to Reno to attend the RT Booklovers Convention a few weeks ago.

One of the events I participated in as a host required we all wear costumes. We could pick the era as long as it was something historical.

Since I recently released Quinn, I thought it would be fun to wear a costume from the Edwardian era.

Rather than do the smart thing and order a costume, I decided to make my own.

Z RT costume

Here is the pile of stuff I used. Although I didn’t have a pattern for any of it, I wanted to make a blouse (shirtwaist if you want the period appropriate term) with an organza overdress. I spent three days working on the costume, right before we had to leave so there wasn’t much leeway for error.

The blouse came together quickly and without much trouble.


I used a pink cotton tank top for the foundation of the shirt.


Then I added lace and trim and sleeves.

The overdress was a disaster! (And that’s putting it mildly!) If I’d had a pattern, it probably would have gone much better. But I didn’t. I think I ripped it out at least half a dozen times before I admitted defeat and went to Plan B (which was order two maxi skirts and a long cardigan from Amazon).

I took a lace skirt I already had an ripped it apart. I sewed the front of it to the front of one of the maxi skirts then used the back of it to make a casing for a belt I already had.

The second maxi skirt went over the first since it had a high-low hem with a deep ruffle (perfect for the era).

Then I spent hours hand-stitching an applique on the cardigan to give it a  more vintage feel.

Last, but certainly not least, I decorated the hat. The base for the hat was a wide-brimmed beach hat I ordered online. It came rolled into a little tube.

After flattening the brim with books, I then steamed it and gave it about six coats of heavy-duty starch to make it stiff.

feather 1

The ostrich plumes I ordered for the hat were supposed to be navy. What arrived was this color. Not quite blue, not quite gray, not quite attractive at all.

So I got a navy dye kit and dunked the feathers in dye for almost three hours to get a rich, dark navy blue.


When I pulled them out of the dye, they looked like this – sad and pathetic. I crossed my fingers as they dried, they’d fluff up – and they did!

costume 4.jpg

As you can see, the navy feathers really made the hat!

And that little rose and gold brooch I’m wearing I’ve had since I was in college.


Costume 1

I even found some pink gloves to match. For shoes, I had on a pair of  navy lace-up oxford heels that look very vintage.

costume framed

Captain  Cavedweller even got in on the fun. I tried to get him to wear a string-tie to finish off the outfit, but he wasn’t having any part of it. That’s okay, though. I thought he looked quite handsome in his brocade vest and long jacket. I can’t tell you how many people came up and asked if he was a “real” cowboy.

In spite of my costume challenges, it turned out to be a fun evening with a lot of great people!

Garters and Golddust 2

Here is a photo with the “hosts” of the event!

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