Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Liebster Award - a Belated Acceptance

So, um... a year and a half ago I was honored with three separate nominations for the Liebster Blog Award, and I never got around to accepting the award and - most importantly - passing it on.  So here we go!

The rules of the award as I understand them:

1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you

2. Answer the questions the nominating blogger created

3. List 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers that deserve some recognition

4. Write 11 questions for them to answer

5. Notify them that they've been nominated

I was nominated by Gina of Beauty from Ashes, Gabriela of Pour La Victoire, and Cindy of The Broke Costumer.  Thank you, ladies! 

Gina's questions:

1. Who/what is your source of inspiration for your costuming?

A lot of my inspiration comes from fellow bloggers, and from seeing the creations of my fellow costuming artists in person, which is my favorite thing.  Every time I attend a Regency Society of Virginia event, I come home with two or three new ideas for gowns and accessories!  It's wonderful to be surrounded by such talent.  Pinterest is another source.

2. Why do you or what caused you to get started costuming?

American Girl dolls were my gateway drug.  I've previously blogged about my beginnings, so I'll just link to those posts here:  Chelsea Learns to Sew and Finding My Era.  Of course, when I started this blog I intended to focus mainly on 18th Century fashion, and I have since become much more into the Regency era.  I can blame this solely on the RSV, because I make new garments based on the events to which I plan to wear them.  And there are always more events!  A girl can't get bored!

3. What is your favorite part about costuming?  Research? Sewing? Creating? Wearing your outfit?

Definitely, definitely wearing a new outfit.  I LOVE getting dressed up!  And going back to my previous answer, I love all of the different events that the RSV puts together.  I get to dance, play cards, eat delicious food, practice archery, work on hand-sewing projects, or just stroll around historic places, all while wearing pretty clothes and socializing with other ladies (and sometimes gentlemen) wearing pretty clothes!  I also really enjoy blogging about the finished product, especially when Brian the Engineer takes pictures of me wearing it.  For me, an outfit is not completely "finished" until I've blogged about it.

4. What is your ultimate goal in costuming?  To get better at sewing?  To visit a fabulous place and have tea or get your picture taken?

Hmmm... Good question.  I guess I don't have one specific "ultimate goal," but several small ones.  I want to continually improve my craft, specifically hand-sewing and period construction techniques, and I want to get really good at embellishments such as embroidery and lace-making.  I know crochet and tatting, and I'd like to get better at both of those skills.  I also have a short but ambitious costuming bucket list, which I think I'll blog about another day.  Gotta keep 'em in suspense!  :p

Gabriela's questions:

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

Probably Pinterest.  I tend to get a design idea in my head for my next garment, and then go hunt around on Pinterest until I find at least one image that supports that I want to do.  :p  That may be backwards, but I do strive for some measure of historical accuracy.  If I can't find any supporting images, I usually re-think my design.  A lot of times the images I do find (especially of extant garment, although fashion plates work, too) give me ideas that I wouldn't have come up with on my own.  Then I incorporate those into the garment.

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

That would have to be fitting a muslin on myself.  I do have two dress forms that are approximately my size, but neither of them have arms.  And when I want something to fit me perfectly, the dress forms just don't quite cut it.  I tend to fit the muslin on either Elsa or Anna (that's what I named my dress forms) first, then try it on myself and make adjustments from there.  But usually those adjustments need to happen in the back of the garment, so I require assistance.  My husband, Brian the Engineer, usually gets this job.  He does not sew, so I have to talk him through the process.  He is very good at following directions, though!  And he's gotten really good at marking hems for me.  But I always wish I had a perfect body double so that I could do the alterations myself.

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

Hmmm... I'll have to come back to this one.

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

That's easy.  I would make the Lake Gown from Star Wars:  Attack of the Clones.

I have been in love with this costume since I first saw the teaser trailer for the movie back in 2001.  (Some of you may know that, prior to delving into historical costuming, I was very big into Star Wars costuming.)  This gown is still on my costuming bucket list, and someday I will make it.

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

My blog was previously called "Chelsea's Costume Blog," which is very boring.  I was looking for a name that would be appropriate for all of the time periods I enjoy sewing for, because although my focus is *currently* on historical fashion, I haven't gotten over my love of Sci-Fi movie/TV costumes.  And I have lots of plans to make more of my own everyday wardrobe, plus vintage-inspired clothing.  I wanted to be able to blog about all of these various interests in the same place.  Therefore I chose A Sartorial Statement because it simply means "of or relating to tailoring, clothes, or style of dress."  I can make such a statement in any era I choose.  :)

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

It's hard to choose just one.  I would probably say that the most important thing I have learned is that the iron is an indispensable sewing tool.  I press my fabric (and the pattern) before cutting, I press my seams flat, then open as I sew, I press creases, pleats, etc.  I finally invested in a high-quality steam iron, and I love it.  I would also say that the other most important thing is to wash (or otherwise pre-shrink) my fabric before cutting!  And the importance of paying attention to grain lines, following the directions on a new pattern, using the right sewing machine needle for the material, etc.  Essentially, I have learned the importance of doing things the proper way the first time around, instead of skipping steps, being lazy, and having to re-do something later because I tried to save time by cutting corners and now I don't like the result. 

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

I love flat-felled seams, especially for undergarments.  For outer garments, I tend to try to use the selvedge at seams whenever possible.  This saves me a lot of time, and I believe is historically accurate for some time periods.

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

This question is very similar to Gina's question #3, so I won't repeat myself.  I'll add that I love sharing my creations with others, and I also enjoy looking back at past work that I've done, especially to see how I've improved!

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

Shoes.  And gloves.  And fans!  I need more of all of these, and I have no ability (at the moment) to make them myself.

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

Ooooooh, does it have to be a real person?  Because if not, I would choose Anne Shirley!  I love her imagination, her bright optimism, her fashion sense (someday I'll make my own version of her wardrobe), and her red hair.  If I am choosing someone real, though, I'd go with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I love her wardrobe as well, but more than that I love how she challenged societal gender roles in her own small way, how she loved her family, and how she recorded the ways of life on the frontier in such vivid detail.

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

That is a tough one.  I love Van Gogh's The Starry Night, and Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Canna

Cindy's questions:

1. What is your favorite period movie, and why?  

Little Women, 1994.  I love the story, the costumes, the music... I've watched it so many times that I like to have it on when I'm sewing or cleaning just for background aural stimulus, and I can picture each scene very clearly in my head just from listening.  So I don't have to watch it full-time, and I can get a lot done while enjoying it!  Sometimes I'll watch it twice in a row.

2. How long have you been sewing, and what made you turn to costuming?  

For extra detail, please refer to my answer to Gina's question #2, but briefly:  18 years, and American Girl dolls.  Though more accurately, I started historical costuming for myself because I started following other costuming blogs, and I started finding places and events where I could wear such things.

3. Do you like to sew alone, or have a sewing day with friends?  

I love sewing days!  I have a small group of former co-workers from the Costume Design Center that gets together about once a month for tea and sewing, and it's one of my favorite things.  We meet at each other's houses and whoever is the hostess that month usually provides snacks and/or lunch, depending on the schedule for the day.  I always feel that I'm more productive when I have the company of fellow sewists working alongside me.

4. What is your favorite outfit you have made, and your least favorite?  

My favorite outfit is not a historical costume, although it is somewhat historically-inspired:

It's my wedding dress!
I designed it, dyed the fabric, draped the pattern, and sewed the whole thing in six months.  It was such a labor of love, and one of those magical projects that (for the most part) works out the way it's supposed to the whole time, and ends up being very nearly exactly what I envisioned.  I felt like a princess wearing it, and it was COMFORTABLE!  So important.  And it has a pocket.  :p

As for least favorite?  That's a tough one, but I'd probably have to go with my Blue Velveteen Bodice, which just didn't quite fit my original vision for it:

Inspiration vs finished product
I don't like how wide the shoulder straps are, but yet it doesn't fully cover the neckline of my white gown.  It's also a bit too plain, and I haven't come up with a plan for adding more visual interest to it, yet.  It'll probably get re-made in the future.

5. If you could go to any costumed event in the world, where would you go and what would you wear?

Someday I will attend a masquerade ball, even if I have to throw one myself!  Ideally this would be located in an appropriately historical ballroom, like Versailles...  I mean, as long as I'm dreaming!  I would wear a Robe a la Francaise (a bucket-list challenge that I have yet to accept!) and of course an elaborate mask.  

6. What is your favorite era, and is your closet full of outfits from this era (or will be)?

If I had to choose just ONE, it would be Victorian.  Specifically the Early Bustle and Natural Form eras.  And no, I have nothing from either era in my closet!   Right now I have many, many Regency garments, and many plans to add more, for two main reasons:  1. I have places to wear these garments, and 2. they use MUCH less fabric than practically any other era!  The amount of yardage involved in just the underpinnings alone for Victorian garb is staggering, and that's not to mention the gown itself, with all of the self-fabric ruffles I love so much, and other fancy trim...  Someday, though!

7. Which historical person would you like to meet and why?  

I'd love to meet one of my favorite authors from the past, but I'd have a hard time choosing between L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Louisa May Alcott.  Basically if her first name starts with L and she wrote semi-biographical novels about unconventional young women who also wanted to write novels, I want to meet her!  

8. What is your next sewing project?  

Well, my most urgent project right now is a secret!  I'm making birthday presents for my Dad (whose birthday was in September), my brother-in-law (whose birthday was earlier this month), and my brother (whose birthday is in Feburary).  Since I will be seeing all of them over Christmas, I will present the gifts then, and blog about them afterwards.  But my next historical sewing project is a new Regency Spencer for myself, from a lovely sky-blue wool that I recently purchased.  It's been on my "to make" list for a while, I was just waiting for the right fabric!

9. Do you have a favorite book about costuming that you go to for ideas?

Not really... I mostly go to Pinterest.  :p  But I do have some reference books that I really should use more often, like Survey of Historic Costumes, Folk Costumes of the World, and 18th Century Embroidery Techniques.  

10. Do you have a "get ready to sew" ritual, or things you must do to get into the sewing mood?

I wouldn't quite call it a "ritual," but I do pre-shrink (often by washing) my fabric and press it before cutting out a new garment.  And I like to have music or a movie playing, if I'm sewing by myself.  

11. Why do you blog about your sewing?  

I blog because it keeps me sane, I think.  It helps me feel that the project is "finished," and often gives me a reason to wear a garment when I don't have a specific event for which it is suited in the near future.  Blogging gives me a reason to take pictures of myself in the garment, which gives me a reason to get fully dressed up in the ensemble for which I made said garment, which gives a reason to finish the garment!  Sometimes, blogging gives me a reason to start the garment in the first place.  Another reason I blog is that I get so much inspiration and valuable information on new-to-me techniques from other bloggers, and I want to do my small part to repay the community for what it has given me.  

*Whew!*  That was a very insightful (and rather exhaustive) list of questions!  I shall save my nominations and my own list of questions for the next post.  This one is simply too long.  :p 

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