As I examined the original vintage costume it soon was clear to me that I needed a new bra and belt base. Sometimes a costume can be rebuild on the original base but the fabric was already falling apart. A good piece of advice; if you are repairing or fixing a vintage costume, always make sure that the original material is in good shape. No use in rebeading fringe on a bra that is already disintegrating. However, I didn’t have the time to create a bra and belt base completely by hand. Instead I opted for using my sewing machine for most of the work.
Only attempt such a feat after going through this checklist. Do you…
- have a lot of experience with manouvring and sewing thick layers with your machine;
- don’t mind breaking a couple of needles during the process (some sewing machines can’t handle breaking needles and need to be recallibrated, and then you’ll have no choice but hand sew everything by hand for the next week or so);
- have the right material to work with (if your layers are inpenetrable, don’t even try. You will kill your sewing machine).
I made sure that I checked all three of the requirements and off I went. I bought fairly thick felt on the fabric market and used it to make a new belt base and two arm bands. Simply draw your design on top of the felt (this is why I used white felt) and cut. To even the design, I folded the base with the sides together and adjusted the shape by cutting away excess. I added a couple of scallops to the upper edge of the belt and imitated the scallops in the armbands. I kept an extra bit on one side of the front belt part to leave room for overlap with the closure.
I covered the belt base with black lycra that I had lying around. Why lycra? Because I can stretch it so it smoothly covers the scalloped edges without wrinkles in the fabric. I put my belt base on top of the lycra with the good side of the fabric facing down. I pinned a couple of pins smack in the middle to make sure that the fabric is not shifting when I am sewing the edges. Then, cutting around the belt base with roughly 1″/2,5 cm seam allowance, I cut the lycra. This is an easy step, always to remember to err on the cautious side and cut of more fabric when you have complicated shapes or angles to cover. The extra fabric might come in handy.
Once cut, I started tucking and pinning the lycra over the scallops. For the middle front pointed edge of the belt, I first folded the fabric upwards in a horizontal line, then folded the fabric from the sides inwards. I made small cuts when needed so the fabric was easier to smoothen over the edges.
The end result:
Stay tuned for part 2!