Liebster Blog Award

This is long overdue, but I would like to say that I am honored to have been nominated (as of June 2018) for the Leibster Blog Award at The Quintessential Clothes Pen! Thank you, Quinn!

What is the Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award is an award that exists only on the internet and has been given to bloggers by other bloggers for near 10 years now. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. You can find more information on the history of the Liebster Award here at The Global Aussie blog.

This award has the following rules:
• Answer the questions asked by the person who nominated you
• Nominate up to 11 blogs (more than 2, though) that you feel would enjoy blogging about this award the award who have less than 200 followers.
• Ask 5 questions of the bloggers you nominate

Now to answer the questions for me to answer –

How did you start making historical garments?

Some of the first books I read which got me hooked on history!

It all began when my interest in history began. I had already been sewing basic, modern garments for myself for a few years by the time I reached 10, the age I started reading vintage kids’ history books. That might sound boring to many, but if you’ve ever read a “Childhood of Famous Americans Series” book, or one of the many “Landmark” books, or a “We Were There”, “North Star” (in picture at left) or a novel by the great G.A. Henty, you will understand my enthusiasm. As one who formally only received “social studies”, I was enamored by a different, rounded, and exciting way of understanding our past and needed a tactile way to interpret it. Cue a pre-teen me finding out that there is such a thing as re-enactments…and naturally wanting to dress the historical part for each of them! Hand-made garments from re-enactment attendees who we got to know helped me get outfits to start with. As I have found out more facts over the years, I have supplemented the historical garments with my own pieces over the years by sewing them myself!

What is your favorite part of blogging?

My favorite part of blogging is a tough one to answer. For me, it’s using writing to bleed emotionally from the inside…releasing my inner energy and desire to share…freeing my brain from all those thoughts and ideas I can’t keep in…reaching out to others like-minded from the comforts of my home. Blogging makes a bigger, better me. It has improved my writing skills (I do enjoy putting ‘pen’ to ‘paper’ so much), and gives me a purpose to research, which my inquisitive mind loves. It is an outlet that is good for me, and I hope does the same for others who read my little site. The people I have met through my blogging are the best! So, I suppose my answer is multi-faceted.

The 1850s original hand-tinted print that hangs next to my bed

Describe a time you struggled with a historical project. What did you learn from the experience?

The American Civil War era is a longtime and current struggle! It has been about 20 years in the making now. My mom’s cousin had been a very dedicated Civil War re-enactor, even raising and keeping horses for “his cavalry troop”. Seeing their re-enacted horse cavalry charge back when I was 14 had me so completely sold on dressing for that time period. I bought a hoop skirt as a late teen, then in my 20’s I chose all the patterns I would need and their fabrics, as well as beginning the cutting out of my dress. Well, fast forward to the last 5 years when I have ordered my corset making kit, bought repro ready-to-wear bloomers and a corset cover, and made myself a chemise (at left). Still nothing is wearable together *sigh*. I just can’t get a good feel on what exactly was worn then and how to fit it. I blame it on my inability as a historian to understand the Civil War in the way that I have a hard time keeping the battles straight in my head. But really – I know I need that corset at this point and am totally hung up and freaked out over the thought of making it. As frustrating as it is, I have grand hopes still for finishing it yet, though, so all is not lost, I know! I think if I had a place and a reason to wear it – there isn’t an 1860s re-enacting group around anymore – I might have better motivation to finish.

If money and restoration were no object, what piece of historical technology would you love to try using?

…some of the medieval and renaissance engineering tools from all over the world. People back then were incredibly talented with the limited technologies they had but excelled in finding ways to set the sky as the limit! That being said, I think I would much rather watch historical technology being used by experts than try it myself. I would love to see the building of the soaring cathedrals of Europe, or witness an illuminated manuscript being drawn and painted, or experience the configuring by intelligent minds to read the stars and calculate the calendar, for just a few examples!

Do you watch or listen to anything while you sew? If so, what is your favorite background?

That varies. Most of the time, sewing puts me in some sort of ‘zone’. Sometimes I want to be laser focused on a technique (such as welt pockets), or would rather not have anything influence my mood, or even just desire to be able to listen to what else is going on around me. It’s then that I like peace and quiet. However, most of the time I like to choose my own good background noise. Very rarely is that noise a podcast because I like really info rich ones (especially from Dressed) and like to focus on the words to let the info really soak into my comprehension. Thus, mostly I choose music – and not music that makes me want to get up and move my body since I haven’t found a way yet to both dance and sew! My background noise is a hodgepodge – sometimes it’s a television show I like to hear but am not sucked into enough to watch dedicatedly (such as Friends or Double Dare…). Most recently, my medieval studies have given me reason to listen to 13th to 16th century music, which I can do while I sew. Yay for research and seamstress work all-in-one! Otherwise, I listen to various genres of all kinds – cultural, movie soundtracks, old-style country, classic crooners, soul singers, and selective modern pop such as Maroon 5, Avril Lavigne, The Weekend, or Bruno Mars. Lately, though, I’ve been catching up on the 80’s and 90’s music. Yet, I’m always okay with a little Daft Punk anytime…it always picks me up even when a project is frustrating!

Now for the blogs I nominate!

Emily at “Incurably Kitsch”
Kristen at “Verity Vintage Studio”
Elena at “Vintage Sewing Machines”
Aimee at “Aimee’s Victorian Armoire”
Helena at “Gray All Day”
Anne at “Pretty Grievances”
Jennie at “The Ugly Dame”
Colette at “Colette’s Sewing & Stuff”
Dixie at “DixieDIY”
Esther at “Dolly Creates”

…and the questions for them to answer!

What is your favorite decade for fashion?
How long does it take you (on average) to sew the things you make?
What is your everyday style like?
Do you watch or listen to anything while you sew? If so, what is your favorite background?
Would you rather wear stripes or a plaid? A solid or a floral?

Many people believe the Liebster award is similar to a chain email/letter, and it does share similarities but the underlining idea is to help promote each others’ blogs and discovering amazing creatives who might not be as mainstream or easy to find as other more popular sewing sites.  However, I do believe the amount of followers should not be a grade for the worth of a blog site, which is where this award comes in!  One good turn deserves another so I hope you go check out my list of awardees and follow them if you don’t already, and another word of thanks out to Quinn at “The Quintessential Clothes Pen” for nominating me in the first place.  I’m just shy of my 7th year anniversary of blogging here!

“Mystery Blogger” Award

I’m so humbled and honored to share the fact that Emily of “The Pretty and the Kitsch” has nominated me for the “Mystery Blogger” award.  Thank you so much for this wonderful surprise!  This means a lot to me and really bolsters me up.  I’ll not be shy in saying I am proud of what I have to offer on my little space on the Internet, and do find that the time and effort to do it is a real pleasure that brings out the best in me.  Yet sometimes I need to hear that what I do is appreciated (don’t we all?) and so this has been such a lovely blessing.

“Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.” Created by: Okoto Enigma

Here are “The Rules” to the “Mystery Blogger Award”:

  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, with one weird or funny one
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

And so to begin…

Three Things About Myself:

  • As much as I love to talk and write, I do not like talking about my personal self at all unless it’s in the context of some point I want to make or reference, or do some good.  I don’t know why.  Yes, I can be shy but also very outgoing…I guess it’s just a matter of being content with myself and enjoying a good conversation with others.  I have done a lot of varied and curious things in my life and know a range of subjects that keep surprising people I know, so I probably am interesting.  Yet, I do not like to lay those things out there generally.  Thus, consider this post as me being very brave and please respect the fact that I am going out of my comfort zone here!

 

  • I do love cars…a small percentage of the reason I am nicknamed “Seam Racer”. In particular, I love 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000 era fast sports cars, especially if they are a stick shift, manual transmission.  Years back, I passed up a reasonably priced vintage Lotus Esprit, and I still kind of wish I had gone for it, but I do love my “baby”, a hot red ’93 Ford Probe (with only 60K original miles mind you!) and taught myself how to drive a stick shift on her.  This led to me figuring out why a stick shift works the way it does, to learning more about cars than I thought I ever would, to knowing how to make the most out of my car’s peppy motor just so I can be the very first among other cars to get up to the speed limit when taking off from a stop light.  My little racing “baby” makes driving so much more fun than most people ever know it can be.  One day I want to find an old empty giant parking lot or a lonely winding road and really see what she can do with me behind the wheel.  Zero to sixty in a handful of seconds?  Yes, please!

 

  • I not only stick to being creative through sewing, but I also love almost all other aspects of the arts and crafts world. I think I have an inbred desire to see something made with my hands.  Ever since I was little, I have made what I wanted with my hands using what was on hand. If I wanted a playhouse, I used a cardboard box to make something way cooler (and cheaper) than anything I saw out there for my parents to buy.  If I get excited about a book or setting, or just want a new picture to hang on the wall, I paint or draw something.  It’s the same with my clothes creating too, I suppose.  If I see it, or if I visualize it, or come up with an idea, I make it happen.  I can make jewelry, do calligraphy, make plastic models, cut hair, make rubber stamps, I can do flower arranging (I had been a florist for a year), mix and master music, or just plain make a killer meal.  I love it all and do it in spurts, although with a family and a household to take care of, I’m am mostly focused on sewing and writing at the moment.

Now – Questions for me to answer:

If you had a time machine, where in time would you take it to first and why?

I love history.  Pick a time, any time or place.  This is too hard to narrow down…really.

If you could be a character in any book, film or TV show, who would you like to be?

This is also tough!  I would have to say I would love to be a companion to some of the heroes in the half-fictional classic stories that I love, ones that seemed so real to me when I read that that I’ve almost been half-there.  There is “King Solomon’s Mines” in which the intrepid but wise Allen Quartermain would take me through the most dangerous yet picturesque regions of Africa to meddle in the action arising from the Zulu and Boer Wars.  Or I could visit “Prisoner of Zenda”, where I could see the handsome Rudolf (or Rupert) in the imaginary territory of Ruritania and get to know the Princess Flavia better.  Or there is Narnia, of which I still half-hope to find a portal to one day, and I would love to go there with Jill Pole or Lucy Pevensie.  So I suppose this is not really the clearest answer to the question, but the most honest one.

Who would you say inspires you the most?

My Grandmother (on my dad’s side), who died early in 2017, is my greatest inspiration on so many levels, I can’t even explain it right now.  I miss her so much.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would have to be a rounded out meal, because I love a good amount of meat, with veggies and a starch or carb at every supper, with a healthy dessert.  I can certainly live without sugar, I don’t have much now the way it is.  I really don’t know though.  There is hardly any food that I don’t like so this would be a very hard punishment for me.  I like variety in my meals, and I cannot live without the occasional strong drink or rich morsel of chocolate.  Whatever, I could chose here would be something I would regret.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Bi-location, definitely.  (I guess this would count as a super power!)  I have so much to do, remember, and take care of, that I am often sorely aware at how much I wish I could use that time to spend instead on other things I would rather enjoy.  If I could bi-locate, part of me could do the soccer and t-ball game drop-off for my son, house cleaning, wash the laundry, make meals (not all meals mind you, I enjoy cooking but do need breaks), pay bills, and other boring adult/mom things so that I could actually find leisure time to enjoy blogging and sewing better, write my dream stories, read more books, practice my other artistic outlets, or just sit in the sun with my dog for just a handful of examples.

So – enough about me!  (Yes, please!) To return the “Mystery Blogger Award” favor to others, now, here is my list of 15, in no particular order:

Now for my 5 questions to those bloggers I have nominated to answer!

  • What everyday tool could you not live without?
  • Do you have a preferred heel height for your shoes?
  • What is next on your “bucket list”?
  • Who makes you laugh the most?
  • Is there a pet that you wish you could have?…no limit!

That should sum things up here!  Thank you again, Emily, for nominating me for this!  Go visit her blog and show her some extra love, too. I want to end this post with something very important – that every one of you dear readers also gives me a little award for every comment and viewing.  Thank you as well!  I wish I could have a mile long list to include all of you for a nomination.

Simple Luxury: a Vintage Hair Curling Tutorial

Yay!  I’ve reached 200 posts here on my blog!

To celebrate I will offer you something that is definitely different.  Here’s my very first hair tutorial to show you one of my very favorite way of achieving a curly hair style.  This method of pinning or setting my hair for curls was shown to me through my good friend, 'Pickwick Papers' curl-paper illustration-compwho is a hair stylist, by her salon’s owner, Cecil.  Apparently, it is the real-deal old-fashioned way that they used to do it before we women had metal, foam, plastic, wire, and electric devices to resort to for a hairstyle we wanted…ladies resorted to paper and fabric!  I have no idea when “rag rolls” and “curl-papers” originated in history, but my first introduction to this type of pinning up one’s hair was in high school when I read Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”.  There are several references to “curl-papers” in both Nancy’s and other ladies’ hair throughout the book, with the most prominent citations in Chapter 13 (find it yourself here).  Just think – this book was from circa 1840!

It might be the best looking way to set curls (hubby thinks I look rather funny in it), but it is natural, easy on the hair and head, and requires only very simple and readily available supplies.  Little or no money is needed to try it out…only a little time.

This is the final part, number 3, to my post series on easy and simple ways to stay comfy, cozy, and effortless but authentically vintage when it’s time to unwind.  Post number 1 is a 3 hour, bias-cut nightgown and post number two is a fleece, very coat-like housecoat.  The pictures below show my finished style after using my hair curling method. Enjoy the following tutorial!

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This might sound weird to start off with, but I will demonstrate how to make your own “curlers” using something menial but soft and readily available – toilet tissue paper.  This is how Cecil first showed me.  In “Oliver Twist” and Jane Austen times, women used paper – and you still can try this with strips cut from a lunch bag or such if you’d like.  In addition to toilet paper, you can even use paper towels.  I also have “curlers” made from real rag portions or scrap fabrics, the reason this kind of set is often known as “rag rolls”.  However, learning to use toilet tissue paper means wherever you go, you’ll never lack the necessary tools for lovely curls…just sayin’!  Later on you’ll see my curlers made from velvet leftover from this blouse, but just basic cotton is actually the best material, in my opinion, for rag rolls.  You don’t want to use any material silky or slippery in feel.  You want a fabric that will somewhat “stick” to itself.  Here’s your fabric scrap pile’s big opportunity to become useful!

Best perk ever – this set is the most comfortable to sleep through the night in that I have found yet!  This is due to the fact my method of rag rolls is not just wrapping hair around a strip of fabric and tying a knot.  Who wants to sleep on that?!  My rag roll method is all about making the perfect “curler” that eliminates any knotting, tying, or any little bird’s-nest of hair to sleep on overnight.

First off, you need to start with a rectangle that is about 4 inches by 12 inches (or 3 squares of toilet tissue paper to be exact).  You can make your rag rolls longer (maybe 15 inches) if you want them to be a bit easier to work with and you can also make them wider (maybe 5 or 6 inches) if you want thicker “curlers”, but I would not recommend going smaller with the proportions.

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You are going to take this rectangle and fold it first in half towards you, long wise (step #1 & #2), and then in half again (step #3).  In other words, the rectangle is being folded into fourths along the length.

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This done, you hold both ends and twist only 3 times.  A semi-twisted rectangle piece, not a tightly wound ‘rope’, is the ideal.  A few twists of the wrist while holding each end is all it takes.  Now, put your finger into the middle and fold the whole piece in half, keeping it twisted.  Voila!  You have your curler!  You can do this as you go to see how many you’ll need or you can do about a dozen and work with that.

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Now, I usually only do my rag rolls when my hair is completely dry or partially dry.  Starting off with wet hair would only soak the rag scrap and prevent your hair from ever drying (unless you sit under a hood hair dryer for a long, long time).  Wet hair with toilet paper “curlers” seems like the formula for a gunky mess, so make sure your hair is dry for this option.  My hair is naturally curly so maybe starting off with hair completely dry will not work for everyone without adding on some sort of setting lotion or the like…I don’t know, I’m not you!  You’ll just have to try and experiment to see what works best for you.

The same thing goes for the portions of hair you want to use – you’ll have to experiment.  I usually grab a portion about 2 inches square from the scalp and always curl under (unless I want a 60’s ‘flipped end’ style).  Now’s the time for some rapid fire quick tips.  Smaller portions make tighter curls, larger portions make looser curls. You can also twist your portions of hair like you did for the rag “curlers” – this helps the hair stay in place but also makes for a loose, wavy sort of curl.  Rolling in with the hair at a 90 angle or more from the scalp creates volume, versus rolling in at a 45 degree angle which creates a curly style that lays closer to the head.  Rolling in all the way to the scalp creates more, tighter curls while rolling only half way up to you scalp leaves a flat crown with curly ends.  There are so many possibilities for changing it up for a different look!DSC_0348-comp,w

I like to make the front side portion as tighter, smaller portion curls rolled in a vertical angle.  The same goes for the bottom back hair along the nape of my neck.  These two spots come un-curled easily over the course of a day and I like tighter curls falling down one side of my face. My hair is cut in long layers, with the front angled down so curling this way pairs up well with my haircut.

Once you have a hair portion, hold the end of your hair because you’ll start curling there.  Find the middle of the rag “curler” (still keeping it twisted and looped in half) and put your other finger over it.  Roll the end tips of your hair twice over both the “curler” and your finger. Then pull your finger out and keep rolling in from there.  Having your finger over the rag roll at the beginning of the curl keeps the tips of your hair from being kinked or rolled way too tight.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a finished curl that has an end which is very frizzy and terribly ugly (called “cow licked”).  Believe me, I tried a set without my finger there at the end just to see what it would do and won’t do it again!

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Once you’ve rolled up as far as you want to go, take your two “pinchy fingers”, thumb and index finger, and peek them out through the loop at one end of the rag “curler”.  Grab the two “tails” at the other end of the rag “curler” and either stuff or pull them through the loop.

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It takes practice to get the loops just right because if they are too big they won’t hold the curl or tails.  If the loop is too small, well…it won’t work at all either, especially if you’re using toilet paper (it breaks and you have to start over).  Again, this step takes a bit of practice.100_6439-comp,w

With all curls looped closed and hair pinned up, I’m ready for bed!

After a night of sleeping sometimes a few curls do come undone.  However, they almost always survive intact well enough to do their job.  All taken out, below at left is what my rag rolls look like un-combed.  After a thorough brushing with a bristle brush, this (below right) is my finished hairstyle.  The curls do relax a bit over the course of the day, more so with extra brushings, but generally last me for two days.  Of course, as my hair is naturally curly, it probably takes to the set better than others might find.

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This hair set works for many decades depending on how you use it.  A loose set is something I can use for the 40’s and especially 50’s, while a tight set I use for both the 30’s and the 80’s.  Look what fabric can do for your hair!

Please do let me know if you try this and how it works for you.  It took me several times of experimental sets before I felt like I had it down and was doing it decently enough.  Please do ask me if you have a question – whether it’s something you need clarified or whatever!

P.S. I will have a “short and sweet” version of this hair curling tutorial on my Instagram, just done with velvet rag “curlers” rather than the toilet paper used in this post.  Also, in case you were wondering, the printed tee I am wearing in some of my pictures is my newest Agent Carter acquisition…to see the whole thing, go on my Instagram post here and figure out the meaning to it!

What I’m Watching Tonight…

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I might not have Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 3 to watch, but I am sort of pumped about the CMT (Country Music Television) series special “Sun Records” premiering tonight.  The actor Chad Michael Murray, better known as “Agent Jack Thompson” from Agent Carter, dons some spiffy vintage duds and snazzy ties again to be in the 1950s telling the story of Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records…the iconic Memphis label that introduced Elvis, Johnny Cash, and those who began rock n’ roll.  Some of the previews I have seen seem steamier than the other previews that focus on the music, and I have no idea how decent or authentic it might be.  I have low expectations, if nothing else I am excited to see Chad Michael Murray again on the screen, especially in vintage.  Will you watch this at all?

Extending a Thank You…

A big thank you goes to Linda of “Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!” for sharing her own award and nominating me for the “Blogger Recognition Award”.  I have the best friends over the internet, as well as the best readers ever!  Thank you also, for reading and enjoying my postings, as well as every comment – they always make my day!

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So to follow the guidelines, I will first *try* to make a short summary of why I started blogging.  There is so much more I’d like to say!  I began back in September 2012, originally blogging along for about 5 months to follow along the then popular and amazing “Sew Weekly”.  My new found “discovery” of vintage patterns a year before also started something big in my life.  However, as what was begun by “Sew Weekly” unfortunately was not continued, and the community platform there was becoming a ghost town, I was encouraged by both my hubby and computer-tech brother-in-law to start my own space for creativity.  “Seam Racer” is the nickname appropriated to be by my hubby – I wiz fast (but still precisely) through the seams of my sewing as fast as I’d like to drive my hot red vintage 80’s car.  My title’s related to the dated kids cartoon “Speed Racer” (so fun, btw) taken from a stitcher’s point of view – let me sit down at a sewing machine or a 6-speed, two door race car and I’m happy and ready to be off!

Soon, my blogging became more than just a place to share what I had made and produced, it became my outlet for so much as well as a place to find others, keep in touch with the world, and learn so much.  Also, this is my way to continually polish and exercise my love for writing and expressing myself, and (hopefully) convey to readers things I am passionate about and share the knowledge I have and the way I see things.  My blog is a satisfying commitment that has become one of the best parts to my life.

By way of advice to new bloggers, my first word is to not be overwhelmed by the immensity of what is out there.  The complexity of the internet with the decision of what blogging platform and such to choose was too much for me at first, and rather stressful.  Take your time to learn, don’t get frustrated by mistakes – stressing out over it isn’t worth it.  Find forums to help you learn how the site works and enjoy what you are sharing on the internet just as much as you enjoy it off of the internet.

Second, pictures are an important part of sharing and explaining on a blog, so another way to avoid frustration and add enjoyment is to invest in a good camera or at least one that you feel works well for you.  About a year ago, we acquired a very nice camera with many bells and whistles on it and now photo shoots take less time and we are no longer limited to where and when, night and day as much.  Interestingly enough, I feel that the very fact of the motivation of styling myself for a picture and posing for them adds so much more to my own happiness in my project and gets me seeing how the outfit works.

Now, for my 15 nominees:

Please go and visit these nominees of mine.  If those I’ve named choose to participate, the rules for receiving this award are as follows:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.

Keep up all the awesome blogging everyone, and I hope to continue to offer a little something for everyone here on my spot on the internet.