The colors! The textures! The draping! The trimming! *blissful sigh* I adore fashion. Yet I am not adroit with a needle. If it counts for anything, I can thread a needle decently and I have had lots of practices ripping out stitches and redoing the work. I do not confess to know everything about fashion, but Art more less can be appreciated across the board. And I have immense appreciation for Costumers! They are the true artists because they are recreating history and perpetuating craftsmanship. Costumers run the gamut of those that modernize a piece for more current standards of comfort and Purists who reject any use of modern technology in their handicraft (I shall have you know, there are men in the re-enactment society who know the number of stiches in a certain size Confederate uniform off the top of their heads. That is impressive dedication!) I am not a Purist. I like elements of both the old and the new.
From my years of superficial research on the subject, most costumers are hobbyists; they make clothes for themselves. It is something they enjoy doing and clearly have the skill set and patience for the craft. Many take commissions but it is usually not their main source of employment. Some actually refuse to do commissions because they reveal in the fact they “do not have to work for anyone else. They know what they like and what suits their bodies.”
However, if you truly have your heart set on a custom costume, your dreams can be yours for a fee. If a piece is truly custom, where there is no pre-existing pattern, it might be factored into the price. Other bits which might increase price are fabric choice and trimmings, travel expense of Costumer for fittings if done at your place of residence versus his/her place of residence, the size of the piece (gown versus blouse), and labor. Of course, labor! Will you need the item tomorrow? Or three months from now? The beauty of a custom commission is costumer designers take great pride in their work and will not let you walk out the door unless you are completely satisfied. If you are the indecisive sort and routinely change the demands, it will more than likely show up on the bill. All this said, each person prices things differently, but just know you will be hard pressed to have even the simplest historical item for less than $50; at least not in my neck of the woods. It is not a massed produced item, so I do not expect industrialized prices for it. On the other hand, quality trumps quantity and I treasure my commissions (currently none are of the historical nature, but I am working to remedy that.) I wear these pieces whenever I can and often seek out events just to parade around.
There are local and regional costuming guilds and societies. Many of those members have their own costuming blogs and which I read as often as I can.
My absolute, hands down favorite costumer is the American Duchess. She also has her own line of historical shoes, which I have gushed about before. The Duchess is amazing! She favors the 18th century frocks but it seems everything in every era she touches turns to gold.
The Dreamstress is also a fun read. She is based out of New Zealand and her preference leans more toward Regency lines. I love her poses. She is clearly having so much fun.
Dressed in Time is a new blog I discovered about a month ago. Like the Duchess, she is based out of Nevada (they must grow them well over there!). She is not a purist, but her clothes are still wonderful and imaginative in their solutions to climate and comfort.