Gold metal mesh costume is done!

Behind the scenes I’ve been working on the gold metal mesh costume. I just didn’t have the time to take pictures or write about it, on account of being to busy with end of the year recitals, family time, having camp fires in our back yard and playing real life scrabble with my husband as a Dutch version of date night. The scrabble thing is really confusing as the rules are completely different compared to Wordfeud. Now that I confessed that I am one of the three people in the world that still play Wordfeud, this post can’t possible get more embarrassing. Or, if you play Wordfeud too, want to prove that there are more than three people that still play this game and want to play with me, send an invite to Mekyria.

Back to the gold mesh costume! The last time I blogged, I had about one third of the belt covered with small gold mesh pieces. It took a bit of times as I have an impressive hip size, which comes in handy being a belly dancer. After I covered the whole belt with gold mesh, I added the closures and sewed a bit of elastic to the upper edge of the belt. It gives it a bit of extra body and prevents the belt from slipping down during shimmies.

The good news is that the costume is now wearable as it is, with the belt, bra and skirt fully finished. To celebrate, I decided to go out to a local park and take some pictures. They look good combined with wings. For the future, I’d like to add some upper arm bands in the same fabric and maybe add the left over mesh pieces to the slit of the skirt, to give it some weight. Edging the whole skirt with the mesh pieces might be a bit too much, as the mesh tends to get wrapped up in itself or get stuck on another piece of mesh. To keep it safe, I am storing the bra and belt in a separate bag with a zipper, where I can put both belt and bra in and keep them flat.

I was going through old pictures and I noticed how I had a habit of finishing a costume and then getting out of the door to get some nice pictures. And it occurred to me that I hadn’t done that in…. three to five year? I decided to dress up, head to the local park and get some really quick pictures with the tripod and the remote control. If you look closely, you’ll see how I’m still holding the remote in my hand in some of the pictures 🙂

gold mesh 01

I got lucky with the light. It was cloudy, creating nice, even lighting. After playing around with the wings, I decided to take a couple of shots to show just the costume. I prefer wearing the belt asymmetrical, which can be seen well in this shot:

gold mesh 3

And the costume is not too shabby looking from the front either:

gold mesh 04

In all, I am very pleased with how this costume rehab turned out. All I need is an occasion to perform in it and see how it holds up to a fifteen minute routine. My initial plan was to shoot some video material as well, but the wind disagreed and kept blowing my hair in my face, and trying to get my wings. Maybe some other time.

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. If you enjoyed this post and like to be kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook.

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Gold mesh costume part 5- the belt

I once read a blog about persistance versus perfection. The gist of the blog was that striving for perfection is setting yourself up for failure, while striving for persistance means focusing on continuing your effort in the lobg run.

So that’s what I am doing with the gold mesh costume: persistance! I decided to go with a hip wrap type of belt, as it makes the costume wearae with different skirt and sleeve variations. The second reason is that a hip wrap type belt is very accomodating when my measurements change which means less time spent on moving hooks and eyes the days before a performance.


I divided the belt in three and started adding the gold mesh in the middle. The general idea is that finishing a section is motivating me to continue with the next section. 

Note that my hips are quite wide so this might take a while! Having a focus helps, I try to add five pieces of mesh every day. Once I sit down to sew, I usually get more work done so that is good. At this rate, the belt will be done somewehere at the end of May.


It is exciting to look forward to the moment I can wear the costume for a performance!

Moon Goddess part 3: First outing of the costume

Bellydance Moon goddess performance

Completing the Moon Goddess costume was on my list, I had everything planned, but somehow the time space continuum warped and I ended up finishing the costume the night before the scheduled performance. Pressed for time, I took a couple of short cuts. I didn’t make the intended arm decoration, wearing crystal bracelets instead. I knew that the backdrop was black and with my dark hair and no crown I clipped a white flower in my hair. The matching white half circle veil was also made the day before the performance.

In total, I used the following materials for this costume:

  • 10 meters of white chiffon – 20 euro
  • one Dina bra form – 15 euro
  • 2 yards of crystal rhinestone trim – 32 euro
  • 1 yard of 20 cm/8″ long beaded fringe – 25 euro
  • 5 teardrop crystal flatback rhinestones – 5 euro
  • 0.5 yard of white felt – 3 euro
  • white thread – 2 euro
  • hook and eye closure – from stash (I bought a gross a couple of years ago)

All this for the grand total of 102 euro/ 110 usd.

I worked app. 35 hours on the costume, if I paid myself 10 bucks per hour the total cost for this costume is 400 euro/460 USD.

My friend Roos rented a small stage in a cultural center for her recital, with extra lights and sound equipment hired for the day. It was a warm day, but so much fun to meet up with her students and all my dance friends. The moon goddess performance is part of a story about mermaids living under the sea. Though they enjoy their tales, the moonlight draws them out of the water where they discover what it’s like to have legs. The moon in the background was placed there to support the story.

Bellydance Moon goddess performance
Bellydance Moon goddess performance
Bellydance Moon Goddess performance, back view
Bellydance Moon Goddess performance, back view

I’ll have to do some more work on this costume to finish it. For starters the arm decoration, lining the bra and belt with satin in a different color (white smudges too easily). The drape that is intended to fall over the shoulder is flapping forward. Not the effect I intended, but it works. During this performance I am four months pregnant (18 weeks).

I am  a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I enjoy blogging and am expecting my first baby in November 2015. If you enjoyed this post and like to kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook and I might write a blog post to answer your costuming question.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Moon Goddess part 1: the skirt and belt

Moongoddess belt with fringe

The Moon Goddess costume is finished and had it’s first on stage outing! I’ve been busy with teaching the last class before the Summer holiday, the student recital of my own students (who did an awesome job) and the student recital of my dance friend roos Belinfante. So much to do, so little time!

The skirt

You might have seen the Moon Goddess skirt  in passing when I posted about circle skirts. I used close-ups of the side seams for my post about finishing straight seams. And I ended up edging the hem with fishing wire, so it’s very  swooshy. But I didn’t post a picture of the finished skirt yet, so here you go.

Circle skirt with finished hem
Moon Goddess skirt! Swoosh!

While working on this skirt it occured to me that if you never worked with chiffon before, it might be handy to know:

  1. Chiffon is semi-transparant. Either make a two layer skirt to decrease the amount of exposure, layer the skirt on top of another skirt/pants or wear leggings underneath;
  2. It is a slippery fabric. Make sure to pin well with sharp pins;
  3. Because blunt pins might cause a thread to be pulled, creating pulls in your skirt. And that would be a shame after all the hard work you’re putting in.

The skirt took up a couple of hours but I always wanted a white circle skirt. It’s so dreamy, I can imagine so many different combinations I could make with my dance wardrobe.

The belt

I think I left off with the sketch in my post outlining the project. After the black and multi-color costume I still had some felt left over and I used it to create the belt base. I made the belt base into two pieces and I choose to add a bit of extra length on both pieces. During pregnancy it is considered normal and a woman is expected to gain 24-36 pounds. Since I am halfway there, being slightly over four months, I am already seeing the changes in my body. Making this costume bigger seemed like a smart plan, as I have performances planned up until half September when I’m seven months along.

The belt base was covered by scraps of chiffon. I first pinned the folds down, then stitched it into place with small stitches. I am not completley satisfied with the effect but it’s not bad for the first time of me trying this technique. Wedding dress makers have to practice a long time to get ruching and pleating down to an art (and it shows). I like to look at weddingdresses for inspiration on pleating and ruching as it is very inspiring to see the beautiful things the weddingdress industry makes.

This is the first time that I used pre-beaded rhinestone trim and I am positive about the experience. Easy to cut and stitch to the fabric, though I spend some extra time on finishing the edges of the trim.

moon goddess belt with rhinestones
Moon goddess belt with rhinestones

To make sure that the belt would fit, I pinned the two parts together and try it on. It fit! WIth a bit of extra overlap to spare, phew. I took out the prebeaded fringe and cut a couple of larger pieces for the lower part of the belt (8 cm wide/ 3″wide). There was some loss of strands but since it was such great quality, it held up well. I then continued cutting smaller pieces to add as accents inbetween the bigger pieces. I ended up with this arrangement.

Moongoddess belt with fringe
Moongoddess belt with fringe

To hide the attachement of the fringe to the belt, I sewed a big teardropped rhinestone on top. They were left over from adding rhinestones to my vintage gold Bella. I felt pretty good about the progress I was making and to my suprise, the one piece of fringe was enough for the whole costume. I’ll keep the other pieces for new projects, I have a c ouple of things in mind that would work. Next time, more about the bra 🙂

I am  a bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I enjoy blogging and I have big plans for the future with regards to writing and publishing books and such. I am currently four and a half months pregnant with my first child, which is very exciting. I plan on dancing through most of my pregnancy, we’ll see how that works out.  If you enjoyed this post and like to kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook and I might write a blog post to answer your costuming question.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Black multi color costume part 7: Closures

Dunya

A project isn’t finished until the last hook is sewn on and it has been through it’s first performance. This is the final post (yay!) of the black multi color costume, as I am getting it ready for it’s maiden voyage/performance this month. My standard preference for bra band closures is having a wide skirt hook and bar on the ribcage strap, and a bit of velcro sewn to the overlapping ends to keep them on place. It makes it easier to get the overlap band secure in place and it is flexible when I need a little bit more room in the bra band: I only need to move the bar.

For the belt, since it is so heavy, I also use a skirt hook/bar for the top closure. For the bottom I chose the smaller black hook and eye. These are incredible strong and the hook can meet the eye on an angle, making it the perfect solution for a closure that needs to be at a slight angle to make the belt fit my curves. Sewing the closures on the costume is a relative small chore compared to the hours and hours spend on beading, but it is one of the most essential and important steps. Without a proper closure, the costume wouldn’t fit me right, which was the goal of remaking the costume in the first place.

I had the perfect opportunity to break in my new costume during the hafla on April 2th. I teach weekly calsses at the Cultural Center of Utrecht University, and we wanted to try having a small hafla with a workshop and some performances. I prepared a choreographed improvisation to Leylet Hob in a tribute to the dancer who gifted me the costume.My sole conundrum was what skirt to wear. Since it is multi-color, any color would go. I could even go for black (boring), didn’t want to use red or pink (background is red) and was a bit meh about green.

I ended up picking a purple Pharaonix Arabesque skirt layered over the original skirt that came with the costume.  This combination isn’t something that would come to me naturally, but it felt suitable for the occassion. Soon, this costume will be added to the costume gallery and I will add all the blog posts to that page so you can always find the posts.

The hafla was a great event, with happy, enthousiastic people, performances by me friends and fellow teachers from our area and a rendition of Leylet Hob that would have done Dunya proud. She was a warm kind, funny and loudly opiniated woman who made the world a better place. I miss her and I am glad that I have known her. Today I won’t post pictures of myself wearing the multi-color costume. Today is not about me: it is about love for oriental dance, for all the people around the world who dedicate their time and energy to dancing their heart out and training a new generation of bellydancers. For all the dancers who rehearse their choreographies, learn how to improvise, find new friends and create amazing experiences through oriental dance. Thank you.

Dunya
Dunya

Black multi color costume part 6: beading the belt

Pinning the fringe to the belt

The belt is in this case the most intensive part of the costume project. Due to the size and the amount of decoration, hours needed to compete this part of the project will probably be over 15 hours. Not time to waste, so let’s get started! The previous belt was unlined, worn down and had damage to the pearls, acrylic jewels and the beaded fringe. Since there was so much damage to the original material, I needed to replace some of the materials and remake the costume. In this blogpost I wrote about the belt base so I am not starting from scratch 🙂  I started with rope beading the edges in gold seed beads. The original nelt didn’t have beading on the lower edge, but I quite like to see the shape of the belt and the rope beading brings a bit of attention to taht area of the costume. To make sure that the fringe was transfered to the right place, I put the base next to the vintage belt and marked the fringe placement with pins. After marking I removed the original acrylic jewels and placed them on the new belt.

Here;s a shot to give you an idea of what my workspace looks like.  It is kind of chaotic because I like to have everything within an arms reach. The folded white tablecloth underneath the project is added so I could take pictures with a neat background during the proces. The belt however, is too big to be photographed against the white cloth so I resorted to taking pictures by laying it down on the floor. I can recommend working on a space with a background that contrasts with your costume to help you focus and concentrate on the project. Also, eye fatigue is a real thing and a good background that calms the eyes is helping to stay fresh.

 

Vintage belt and the new belt form side by side
Vintage belt and the new belt form side by side

I did both front and back of the belt in this manner. On the new belt I added more stones because I wanted more bling. At this point I was waiting for the mailman for the plastic 6mm pearls I ordered online a couple of nights ago.

 

New belts with acrylic jewels
New belts with acrylic jewels

While I was finishing up the belts, my husband came in with the mail and it included the pearls. Huzzah!  I ordered from the Dutch website ‘Kralen.com’ and I recommend them, speady delivery and nice pricing. I ordered two packages of 250 pearls each and I was wondering if this would be enough. They didn’t have more of this type in the webshop so I decided to use this frst before ordering more.

White pearls from kralen.com
White pearls from kralen.com

With the pearls, I edged the jewels one by one. The hardest part was to even out the pearls to create a neat frame for the jewel. I succeeded at most places and have a bit of an issue with a couple jewels where the pearls are not cooperating. You can see what I mean in the picture below. After edging all the jewels I started harvesting the beaded fringe from the vintage belt and pinning it to the new belt.

Pinning the fringe to the belt
Pinning the fringe to the belt

This type of fringe is made in Egypt and consists of beaded frigne ties to a cord. the cord is easy to sew down, cut or rearrange on costumes. Working with this type of fringes is a huge advantage over handbeaded fringe, as handbeading fringe takes a lot of time. The fringe is not cheap (about 25 euro or 30 usd for a meter/yard) but totally worth it. Stitch the fringe to the costume by hand by going through the cord with needle and thread.

Sewing beaded fringe to the belt
Sewing beaded fringe to the belt

Make sure to securely attatch the ends of the cord to the belt, as the fringe on the end might fall of when the cord starts to unravel. With a couple of extra stitches this is easily prevented. The good news was that all the short fringe from the belt as in excellent shape. The bad news was that the long fringe sewn to the bottom of the belt was in terrible condition in the back. I didn’t see it in it’s complete glory until I started to remove it from the vintage belt. The damage includes strands that have vanished, remnants of threads, half tied of strands and a bit of a jagged look where the fringe has thinned out. I had to double the fringe in a couple of places to create a fuller, healthy look.

Damaged beaded fringe
Damaged beaded fringe

I came up short on the long fringes and decided to remove some of the fringe from the bra and put it on th ebelt instead. Yes, the bra that I completely beaded and lined a couple of weeks ago. Needless to say I wasn’t to happy about the prospect of demolishing my own work but it had to be done. With the extra fringe from the bra, I completed the belt. I’ll deal with the fringe shortage on the bra some other day. The belt turned out well, the black sequined base really helps to make the pearls and colored gems pop out.

 

New multi color belt front and back
New multi color belt front and back

Next week in part 7: lining the belt (I am so close to finishing this set, I can almost taste it!)

Black multi-color costume part 1: new belt base

Covering the belt base with fabric

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…

  1. have a lot of experience with manouvring and sewing thick layers with your machine;
  2. 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);
  3. 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.

Belt base made from felt
Belt base made from felt

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.

Belt base pinned to fabric
Belt base pinned to fabric

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.

Covering the belt base with fabric
Covering the belt base with fabric

The end result:

Finished belt base
Finished belt base

Stay tuned for part 2!

Project: Black multi-color costume

This costume was gifted to me by a dancer close to my heart. She made this costume roughly twenty years ago and wore it during many performances. She started dancing in the time that there were a lot of performance opportunities for bellydancers in The Netherlands and wore this costume a lot. She gave this costume to me, saying:’You might have to put another bra in to make it fit and it is really worn down.’.

This is all true.

In this post, I’ll show you the original costume inside and out and in the next posts I’ll discuss the techniques that I used to get it ready for another twenty years of bellydance. Let’s start with the bra. The bra is build on a regular light blue underwire bra, reinforced with buckram and with different reinforced shoulder straps. the side straps are from the original bra, covered in black glitterdot.

The color scheme is stunning, with bright acrylic jewels lined with white pearls. Backed by black sequins and beads, and with 8″/20 cm black fringe, this costume looks good from a distance and up close. Well, it would look good up close if the pearls were replaced by new ones. I also have another problem: I am a 70C and I estimate the bra to be a 85E. There is not enough stuffing to make this fit me so I have to rework the bra.

Outside of vintage multicolor bra
Outside of vintage multicolor bra
Inside of vintage multicolor bra
Inside of vintage multicolor bra

The belt is a two piece belt in a V-shape, with fringe placed on the diagonal. The upper edge is accented with gold tone seed beads and is slightly wavy. I think I’ll exagerrate this by adding more of a sculpted edge to the new belt. The belt is made of several layers of fabric sewn together and covered in black glitterdot fabric. The spaces that are not hidden from view by the fringe have black cupped sequins with seed beads sewn in place.

Inside of vintage multicolor belt
Inside of vintage multicolor belt

The plan

The fringe is really good quality and is in good shape, considering it’s age. I might have to do some reknotting and rebeading here and there. I will reuse most of the acrylic jewels and seed beads, but I have to replace all the pearls. I am also thinking of covering the whole costume with black sequins instead of glitterdot material. Some ambitious plans, and I also have a couple of dance projects lined up so it will probably take a c ouple of weeks. In the mean time, if you have questions, drop me a line on facebook and I’ll see if I can give you a useful answer. To finish this post, here are some close-ups of the beading to show you that it is really neccesary to redo the beading with different beads.

Original damaged beading on vintage bra
Original damaged beading on vintage bra

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.