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the rest of the story….

Here are some shots of my creation. Husband is such a doll, he took almost 60 photos just so I could be assured of a few good ones. Husband is a good guy, and a wonderful husband.
We just got back from a road trip but before I start on that I want to finish this.
Here is the matching necklace and bracelet, I also made the earrings which I am wearing. My scarf ended up tied to the purse since it was too warm to wear it.

Making this ensemble was a big learning experience for me. My orientation is costume design. I am fascinated by historical dress and I love to learn how things were done. I ended up doing improvisation because I fell in love with the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Back in the early 70s my drama teacher gave us extra credit if we attended the Faire, my boyfriend and I went in costume. I was hooked. Years later when I returned to California, one of the first places we went to was Blackpoint for Faire. I even made costumes and entered us in a costume contest, and amazingly to me, one of my daughters won a prize for her peasant costume! To make a long story short, I eventually auditioned and became a member of St Swithin’s. I was a monger, two of my kids were mongers and my oldest daughter became a washerwoman.
Because I did RenFaire, I also ended up doing Goldrush California! and A Christmas Fair in the Time of Charles Dickens. All of which required new costumes all around. I learned to make jewelry because I couldn’t find what I wanted at a price I could afford. Then I started to make jewelry because I liked doing it.
I belonged to the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild for a short while, I stopped due to lack of funds but I did attend some costume events including a Costume Con and Costume College.
So when this hat contest came about, it just never occurred to me to just make a hat.
What I didn’t realize is that I put the same sort of energy into this ensemble that I would have put into a costume for a historical re-enactment. When I was at the pre-show cocktail party, I was pretty jazzed at my creation. I got all sorts of compliments, then I started feeling self conscience. People were amazed that I altered a pattern, that I had decorated the fabric with embroidery,and I stopped explaining that I had originally made the beaded trim for a lampshade. I didn’t mention to anyone that I had made the earrings,necklace, handbag and bracelet. I started to feel a little freakish. In my mind this was a costume event, so I was getting all the details right, from the hat to the shoes, getting the nail tips was no different than having the correct period corset.
I am really happy with how my ensemble turned out, but I also found out that I am a costumer who doesn’t have any place to costume for. No costume events and no fellow costumers. No one to ask “How did you do that trim?” Or” do you think that colour is period?” I miss being able to show someone the beaded beads that I did for my necklace and have them understand what I am talking about. It’s lonely being a costume junkie with no where to go for a fix.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. Adriene, thanks for the offer. I sent you an email. I am staying home this year, unfortunately. I miss doing Dickens!

  2. Hi Theresa, I discovered your blog because I’m doing PR for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair (with the Pattersons of RenFaire, of course) and your blog appeared in a recent Google search! Will you be coming to California in the next few weeks, and would you like to be my guest to the Dickens Fair any weekend through December 21? The Fair is in South SF and I live in Marin. I’d also be interested in hearing from you if you might want to do a home swap, as I have been wanting to explore Merida for an extended period of time. Anyway, it’s nice to have a connection with you. Your jewelry and costumes are quite beautiful and it sounds like you are living a very nice life. A. Biggs in San Rafael

  3. Heather, If you know someone who is coming south you can order a felt hat blank online in the right size.Or have Wayne knit you one out of rafia and I’ll decorate it! Email if you are serious and I will send you some links.
    Lisa, I hope so. After I finish the kid’s hats and scarves I am going to look into the costumer’s guild and see what I can find out.


  4. I hope someone with your costuming interest will read your post and chime in. I am sure there are more people out there that share your interest and would love to talk through the process.

    You did such a wonderful job with your ensemble.

  5. I can’t say that I understand costuming, but I can say that I’m totally in awe of your talent and motivation. That outfit is lovely and you looked gorgeous in it. If I could find a hat to fit my enormous head, I would commission you to make me a cloche very much like yours.

  6. Jackie, #104 is Annie, she is a local RE person and she is involved in the tango group. I loved her whole ensemble. I thought that she looked great too. I was looking at how her hat was made to get some ideas for next time!

  7. American Mommy, I’m sure that there is stuff around. The schools do elaborate things with the kids. I think what I need is to start a chapter of the International Costumer’s Guild, so we can have costume events. They do theme events like going to show premieres in costume or hold romantic picnics, stuff like that. I am going to look into it.

  8. Are there local plays or a school where you could help out? You are quite talented and I can only imagine how much you would be appreciated!

  9. You look wonderful in your dress and hat. The jewelry completes the look. Great job. The black hat with the feathers on women 104 is very retro looking. It looks very sharp with her black dress.

  10. Calypso, LOL, I recognized that flying saucer hat from a dance number that was performed at the Red Cross pre-Carnaval party.My favorite was the huge feather headdress, it was wonderful.

    Nancy, I saw Project Runway once and thought that it looked fun, but I don’t know if I can create something under pressure like they have, but it would be cool to try. I never thought about it, but you are right, I can’t be the only costume junky in Mexico! By the way I made the skirt then the scallops that way I was sure that they would turn out.

    Wayne, thanks, I love making jewelry. I have a 1928 Jewelry Company bracelet that I love and it was the inspiration for the bracelet and necklace (it’s on my right wrist).

    Canucka, yeah and we’d have so much fun doing it! My hair is pretty short now. I had it cut again since the first hair disaster and just love it. It is also very white on the front and dark in back.


  11. Truly gorgeous, I wish I had something insightful to share about the details, but I am no expert in this! Now, you and my brother would get along like peas in a pod with costume talk and the intricacies of bugle beads and stitching.

    Aside from the ensemble, YOU look smashing, is your hair up or did you cut it? You look fantastic!

  12. Bravo! Fantastic! You had to have been the best dressed lady there. The whole look is great but the shining item, to me, has got to be that necklace. Wow! How many more times can I say fantastic!

  13. As I panned down the photos I was thinking – no, this is a costume party – not a fashion show. Then I got to the part where you copped to being a “costume junky” – title agreed.

    That large saucer like hat – I thought perhaps a waiter left his tray on that woman’s head (LOL)

    You do receive comments from insensitive men – don’t you? 😉

  14. I am just in awe of your talent. I can’t even imagine how you did the edges and made it all come together. Creating a garment from scratch just seems mysterious to me. Do you ever watch Project Runway? I love it, watching how they use the dummy and think about fabrics and draping, etc.Maybe you should apply to be on their next season?
    Congrats on the outfit, it is gorgeous. And the more you talk about it locally, the more likely other costume people will pop up.

  15. Cairelle, it was great fun. I love intricate details, I’m glad you like them too.

  16. I think your whole ensemble looks marvelous, and I LOVE, love, love the detail on the bodice area! The color is great too.

    Two thumbs up from me!

  17. glorv1, you have such a great attitude. You are perfectly correct, I do miss some aspects of sharing, but I also feel like I’m definitely marching to a different drummer but didn’t realize it.

    JJ, I started sewing when I was about 24 years old because my first assignment as a manager was the yardage department,so I took started learning stuff. I had gotten a D in home economics when I was in 7th grade. I also took pattern drafting and draping at the local junior college when I was in my 30s, so I have been sewing for over a quarter of a century. Seriously, you do anything that long you get good at it! If you really want to learn, take a class at the JC,but be patient and don’t make your first effort a fully lined suit!

  18. Love the dress ensemble! You do really great work, I have to say. I so wish I had the talent to do that – there are so many things that I want but can never find, and if only I was some sort of a seamstress (or knitter…) I would be sewing like a madwoman!

  19. But you are showing the world your work and the creativity that went with it. I think you are very creative and that dress looks stunning on you. Your purse and hat really add to the ensemble as a whole. Even though you miss certain aspects of sharing, look at it this way, the whole world is reading you and they may want to know just how you did all that. It’s pretty amazing. Glad you enjoyed yourself. Viva Theresa!

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