Monday, June 16, 2014

Liebster Award

I was ecstatic to learn that I had been nominated for the Liebster blog award by Gina of Beauty From Ashes! I am so honored and pleased that my contributions to the historical costuming community--small though they are--are inspirational and meaningful to others. It is this sense of community and support that keeps me going when I set in a sleeve backwards for the fifth time, doubt the practicality of a costume, or lose my sewing mojo altogether.

I would like to take this moment to thank Gina for her own contributions to the sewing blogosphere. I found her blog when researching dress diaries of Edwardian costumes, and was immediately blown away by her level of skill and expertise. Immaculately applied soutache braid? Check. Stunning use of fabric colors and prints? Check. Beautiful manipulation and lace, beads, and textures? Check! Gina's vision and skill for historical sewing is truly impressive and aspirational.

The following are the blogs I nominated for the Liebster award. Each blog is inspirational, fun, and interesting in its own way!

1. The Gibson Girl's Guide to Glamour
Talia's blog is loaded with recipes and experiments in early 20th century makeup and hair styling techniques. Who knew that women 100 years ago also had drawers stuffed with an endless array of beauty products?

2. Jenni-Style
Jenni churns out adorable clothes faster than a sewist secretly adding to her fabric stash. And have you seen her Pink Stripey 1970's Dress? I never would have thought that such a plain pattern drawing could turn out such a chic and effortless dress!

3. Temps d'elegance
All I can say is "WOW" when I see Fanny's historical costuming skills! And the historical events she attends? Absolutely fabulous!

4. Roses and Vellum
I wish my wardrobe was as cool as Laura's! Her outfits are so charming and she regularly finds the most fun, interesting links to post!

5. Folk Costume & Embroidery
Roman's blog has kept me captivated by national dress for years! If you follow my Pinterest, you may be aware I'm a bit obsessed with Portuguese Folkloric Costume. It's with great restraint that I don't make massive Pinterest boards for all of the fascinating costumes Roman presents in his blog! (Also, folk costumes are great inspiration for embroidery junkies!).

6. Truly Hat Blog
Are you sitting down? Good, because you're going to jump out of your seat when you see the historical hats this blogger makes! This blogger also sells historically-accurate ouches for the Elizabethan costumer among us.

7. Odette's Obsessions
I just discovered this blog and am absolutely enamored with Nina's forays into spinning, cooking, gardening, and sewing. Spinning and dyeing your own yarn? Hardcore!

8. A Sartorial Statement
Chelsea's blog is where I get my Regency fix. She actually printed fabric for one of her creations!

9. The Broke Costumer
Gee, doesn't that title describe all of us at some point? Cindy also creates lovely Regency clothing (and a hella cool and creative Myth Masque Ball costume!).

10. Mode de Lis
Lily's adorable dresses definitely fill a 1930's gap in the costuming community. Her relatively new blog is a visually stunning repository for 20th century-inspired clothing.

11. Swiat mrowki
Don't be phased by the foreign tongue: Fobmroweczka's delicious blog is chock full of historical fashion goodness!

12. The Costumer's Closet
I've been following Loren's blog for years and love every post! Her recent recreations of the Game of Thrones costumes have been particularly exciting to watch; check out the embroidery on her Cersei dress!

Now, onto answering Gina's questions for me...

1.  What/When/Why/Who was the inspiration for your getting into period/era costuming?
Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006) was my gateway drug to period costuming. I had just started sewing--little things, like hats and pouches--and convinced myself a sexy Marie Antoinette Halloween costume was feasible. I began researching clothing of the period and was sucked up into the pleats, robings, embroidery...Eventually I realized the costume was far more complicated than I had anticipated, and made instead my Chemise a la Reine.

2.  What is your favorite part of the costuming process?  The research? Design? Sewing? Construction? End where you get to put on our garment and have your photo taken?!
I LOVE researching (not just clothing!), and really enjoy combing through internet resources or visiting museums and staring at a painting to determine where the seamlines are. My design process is pretty fluid and usually influenced by the fabrics I find or am unable to find. I also love applying decorative elements, such as embroidery or trim. The best moment is definitely wearing the finished piece!

3.  What is your end goal in the costuming arena?  Do you simply want to hone your skills or do you desire a career in the fashion/movie industry?
A little bit of both. I can never stop sewing and learning; if I don't sew for a few weeks, I become more tense and need the relaxation sewing brings. I have done several commissions, including for dance groups and short films, and very much enjoy that aspect of sewing. I would like to create my own clothing line one day!

4.  If you could travel to one place to attend an event to wear you costumes to, where would it be?
Definitely the Venetian Carnival. What's better than themed 17th and 18th century costumes in a historic city?

5.  What frustrates you most about costuming?
I sew in a corner of my parents' basement. Every time I want to sew, I have to clean the old kitchen table down there (a catchall for my parents' stuff), have my dad haul out my vintage machine (a Singer Merritt 2404), and pull out all my supplies. At the end of the day, this has to be all put away again. It wastes a lot of time and often discourages me from sewing for days or weeks. I know that a dedicated craft room with ample storage space will definitely help my creative flow and productivity.

6.  When looking for accessories, do you allow yourself to purchase reproductions or is it antiques only?
Purchase reproductions! I have never bought an antique accessory, partly because of cost, rarity, sizing, damage, and the small possibility that the item might be haunted. You never know! I do love buying costume jewelry; it's plentiful, cheap, and I don't have to constantly fear that I'll break or lose it. Recently I found a very convincing brooch at Macy's for $5 on clearance, perfect for decorating a stomacher or Edwardian gown.

7.  Do you allow yourself a lunch break or do you sew right on through the hunger?
Depends on how many hours I have to finish the project...after all, who needs food, bathroom breaks, showers...? However, if I'm feeling particularly frustrated, I take a mental health break and physically distance myself as far away from the offending project as possible.

8.  What is your most favorite ensemble?  
My favorite ensemble thus far is my Bronzino Italian Renaissance Gown. This gown was finished last year and worn on October 30th and 31st at my University. Shockingly, most people thought I was dressed as Disney's Merida...

9.  Why is it your favorite?
Mainly, the color! I love jewel tones, but this shade of blue is particularly brilliant. The fabric is a surprisingly high-quality polyester from a fabric warehouse, with a lovely drape. I also enjoyed learning all the new techniques I used on this dress, such as the cartridge pleating, handbound eyelets, and beaded neckline trim.
10.  What was your most wonderful event/experience/compliment concerning costuming?
Oh, tough question! Frequently people tell me that I have an innate ability for sewing, that I was born with this now dying skill. I suppose it's because no one in my family is interested or as intrepid with new techniques as me.

11.  What do you listen to/watch when you sew?
This question also depends on how much time I have left to finish something. If I have a looming deadline, my Pandora is set to heavy metal and sometimes rap, because I need the raw energy. If not, I'll listen to something calming, like classical music (Bach's cello suites for the win!), and try to watch a period movie, such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I avoid watching Titanic for the 100th time because I end up crying too much.

And my questions for my nominees:

1. What is your favorite resource or method for researching period costuming?

2. What is your biggest frustration when you sew clothing?

3. What is your biggest historical or sewing pet peeve ? (i.e. Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake"...NOT!)

4. What is your ultimate costume fantasy? Which piece, if you had the skill/money/time to make, would you make?

5. What does the name of your blog mean? How did you decide on that name?

6. What has been the biggest sewing lesson you learned?

7. What is your favorite seam technique (french, flat-felled, etc.)?

8. What is your favorite aspect of blogging about your creations and/or research?

9. What is your accessory guilty pleasure? Shoes, socks, jewelry, hats...?

10. If you could be any historical figure, who would you be and why?

11. What is your favorite painting, sculpture, or other artwork?

Congratulations to all the past and future Liebster Blog Award winners!


  1. Thank you very much Gabriela ! I'll try to answer soon :-)

  2. Thanks so much Gabriela! :-)

  3. Who needs food, water and bathroom breaks indeed! I agree totally! And I don't ever watch the end of the Titanic because I am a very ugly cryer!! UGH!!! Carnivale would be fun wouldn't it? Your answers were so wonderful! It is so fun to "get to know" others with the answers they give to questions such as these! I look forward to seeing more of your creativity!

  4. Aw, thanks so much for nominating me! But when I read the rules I saw that it was for blogs with 200 followers or less and it doesn't seem fair for me to take a spot that someone else should have.