Gold Bella – adding crystals

I’ve been busy lately with upgrading an old Bella costume. I bought it in 2004 from my teacher, who had also worn it a lot. I’d classify it as a vintage bedlah, in the typical Turkish style of costuming from 1990-2000. You might think I was lucky that my first professional costume was a Bella but at the time I had no idea. I had never seen a Bella costume in real life or been to the Bella store. All I know is that I liked it because it was pretty. I adjusted the hooks, eyes and straps, removed some of the fringe and added a couple of yellow acrylic stones. I wore this costume for my very first dance photoshoot in 2006. This picture was taken in the livingroom of the photographer, thus all the close ups. If I stood or put my arms out, you would have seen her couch :-).

The original costume had no crystals.

Let me repeat that.

The original costumes had no crystals.

Hard to believe, as Bella costumes are know for using many crystals nowadays! I removed some of the gold sequins in the center of the raised beading and added huge teardrop shaped crystals. As you can see in the picture below, I also removed the yellow acrylic gemstones and replaced them with smaller sized teardrop crystals.

IMG_2103[1]This was the first time that I bought crystals from a Chinese supplier. I was a bit suspicious as there is a huge price difference between swarovski crystals and the Chinese ones.

Crystals compared

The backing on the swarovski crystals is solid and fairly thick. The backing on the Chinese crystals is rather flimsy: it came of easily (even taking them out of the wrapping damaged them) and the backing felt slightly sticky. I can imagine that the backing wears of faster on the Chinese crystals. Some of the crystals had a bit of damage to the glass, something that I never experienced with Swarovski crystals. Overall, the amount of bling that comes from a Chinese crystal is excellent. I bought AB crystals and they are very shiny, perfect for what I had in mind.

I bought a big bag of round crystals in a gold setting when I was in Istanbul last year and I added those to the inside of the raised beaded scrollwork on the bra straps and the upper edge of the belt. Here’s a shot of the belt before I added the teardrop crystals to give you an idea of what it looked like before.IMG_1999[1]

Tips for sewing crystals: sew from the outside edge of the crystal towards the hole closer to the center. This makes it easier to ‘aim’ for the right place with your needle, from the other side of the fabric.

The metal wire along the edges of the bra straps have broken in several places and I need to fix and replace it. I am also considering replacing the lining, to freshen it up a bit. Through the years, I have worn it with various skirt and performances. For example with our troupe Sense of Bellydance:

I hope to have many more happy dance years ahead of me and various occassions to wear this set.

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