How to add a gathered fabric effect with elastic

Creating clothes is all about working with shapes and effects. A slight gathered effect can make the difference between a rather plain looking top, or a top that has a nice visual effect. This effect can be made by sewing a tunnel, threading the tunnel with cord or elastic and pulling it tighter.

But why would I spend so much time on a complicated tunnel construction if I can create the same effect in just a couple of minutes? In this post I’ll show you how. Let’s start out with a plain top. I made this one from lycra, but all stretch fabrics and knitted fabrics would work for this technique.

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I finish the edges, then take a piece of elastic and pin the top to the fabric. I then use the pins to create a guide for the elastic. The elastic is free to move in between the pins, yet remains in place. I prefer starting on the top so that’s where I’ll start sewing.

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Taking the top with my I use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch the top 3 mm/ 1/5th” of the elastic into place.

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I then pull the elastic towards me and continue sewing. Make sure that the underlying fabric stays smooth. Feeding the fabric and the elastic through the machine, it will look like this from the inside.

 

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When turned inside out, the effect is clearly visible.

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This top is part of a skirt and top combination that I made for the student recital in June. The pattern of the skirt can be found here.

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I love to hear from you if you used this technique and liked it! Let me know in the comments below or on facebook. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! 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.

Beading at 112 kmph

When people see me working on costumes the most heard comment is: ‘Doesn’t it take forever to finish a costume?’. My common answer is: ‘It does take quite some time’.  I always wonder what the rationale is behind this question. Should I not start a project that requires a great deal of my time? Are they amazed that I am not getting bored by sewing thousands and thousands of sequins and beads to a costume? Or do they wonder how I have time to make costumes?

My secret to costume making is my daily commute. For my day job I travel roughly sixty five km by train. Living on the outskirts of a city means taking the local train, and the local train uses app. 50 minutes to get to my destination. That’s fifty minutes of sleep, listening to music, staring out of the window, checking facebook updates on my phone….  or fifty minutes of costuming. This is my regular view: the screen on the top tells me we are travelling at 112 kmph. The seats are color coordinated with the project I am currently working on.

IMG_5093At the end of the day when I am done with work, I have to take the same train back home. That’s another fifty minutes of costuming. The tricky bit is preparing workthat can be done in the train. For example, bringing a lot of supplies with me is out of the question. Bringing something with me that needs a lot of workspace is also a big no no. The tables are narrow and small and often I can’t get a seat at the window during rush hour.

I learned to pack light, bring only the bare essentials for what I’m working on and to divide my work into chunks. For example, I am working on filling triangles with a random bead pattern. This is what I can get done in fifty minutes. For the record, this was the biggest triangle.IMG_4959

I am not putting pressure on myself to finish something in the limited time that I have. Instead, I focus on motivating myself to get started. If I don’t feel like beading, I simply don’t. But I know how happy I am when I finish a costume and get to wear it. Working on a costume is essential to getting closer of the shiny prize at the end of the proverbial tunnel. And there’s another pay off! Beading works like meditation for me. It’s totally zen to not stare at a screen, to limit my vision to the fabric before me and not do anything else. Sewing can be kind of therapeutic for the very same reasons. When others see a box of beads and a seemingly endless project, they get stressed out. When I see a box of beads, I think of how lovely it will be when it is done.

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Another option is beading while watching the TV, something I used to do when I had more time on my hands. Something that requires little attention to follow the plotline is perfect. Nowadays I don’t watch much TV as it is. Too busy being home and running around after the little one, cooking dinner or being too tired to pick up a needle.

What are your time saving tricks to get some sewing or costuming done?

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! 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.

 

Overlapping row of sequins

This is a basic beading technique I use often and I’ve seen it referred to with different names. Basically it is sewing sequins down in a row with the sequins partly overlapping, like roof tiles. The non stretch sequin trim looks quite similar to this technique and is much faster. I wouldn’t recommend edging the edge of a veil or skirt by hand as it would take up a lot of time. Machine stitching pre made sequin trim would be much faster and easier!

This technique is perfect for parts on a costume that need a bit extra, or where I want to hide something. Beaded fringe can be bought premade and it is attached to a cord on the top. The cord needs to be hidden after sewing it on, and an overlapping row of sequins is perfect for the job.

Getting started

I wanted to add some more fringe to the black multicolor bra and I had some old pieces of black fringe lying around. I hand stitched it on top of the cups. As you can see, without covering up the cord on top of the fringe is kind of ugly. I didn’t have enough to create a full row so I left a small gap in between the pieces. Due to the fringe swinging it is almost not noticeable.

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The technique

Start by anchoring your thread to the fabric in whatever way you prefer. I like to work with a double thread and anchor by pulling the needle through the two threads in the back. I then take one sequin and sew it down by sewing through the fabric to the back.

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Let the needle re emerge on the outside of the costume, right next to the first sequin. Add the next sequin and repeat.

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Continue adding sequins until you reach the end of the rope, then add a couple more just to make sure the rope is well hidden. When finished, it looks like this:

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One more thing to cross of my costuming  to-do list! If you want to read more about this technique, I recommend Naima’s blog on fish scale beading. It shows some interesting ways of using this technique to create different textures in a costume.

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! 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.

 

Lengthening a skirt

Living in the country of some of the tallest people in the world means that I am used to being fairly average in length. I am 176 cm tall, which is three inches short of being six feet tall. Or, as google informed me:

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After buying several second hand costumes through the internet, I noticed that I am roughly 10 cm/4 inches taller compared to most dancers. How do I notice? Because most of the time, the skirt is too short. I hate short skirts, because it breaks the body line and it looks like I’ve outgrown my costume lengthwise. One of the reasons for me to start making my own clothes was because it was nearly impossible to find pants that were long enough.

A while back I bought a gorgeous second hand costume that I suspect is a Hannan. No label though, so I can’t be sure. The beadwork is superb, very pretty with holographic sequins and seed beads. And it also happens to be too short. Hm. I’ve worn this costume before but it never quite felt right. This summer I am overhauling my costume stash and fixing all the things that need to be fixed and this costume was high on my list.

As an extra challenge, I try to use the materials I already own, as my stash is overflowing. In May I turned two blue chiffon veils into a circle skirt. I needed a blue circle skirt for my student recital and the fabric was a bit too heavy for intensive veil work anyway. The left over scraps were turned into one long piece of fabric, app. 12,5 cm/5 inches wide. I didn’t measure the length but it was slightly longer than the edge of the skirt.

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I finished all edges of the fabric strip, then used a long, loose stitch along the top edge of the strip. Pinning the beginning and the end, I started gathering the ruffle and pinning it onto the hem of the skirt. It took a while to get the fabric evenly distributed but it worked. I used my sewing machine to secure the strip to the skirt and I need to hand baste the edge to finish the seam neatly.

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I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! 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.

White and red cherry dress

This post is not about belly dance costumes. It is about other nice stuff I made and that I want to show you. This white and red cherry dress is the perfect example of how a nice basic pattern paired with a cute cotton print fabric can create stunning results. It also gave me an excuse to wear these gorgeous red heels that have been sitting on the shelf for a while. In my daily life I mostly wear comfortable sneakers and flats.

I made this dress in 2008, from a McCalls pattern. Whenever I buy fabric, I usually take a picture of the fabric plus the pattern. If I don’t have time I can always find what I was planning in my photostream. In this case I was so excited that I didn’t wait and started working on it right away.

DSC_0087I love this McCalls pattern as it is fairly easy and has a fantastic shape to it. The dress can be worn with a petticoat but it looks very nice without petticoat as well. The skirt is not a complete circle: I had some trouble in the past with full circle skirts that kept being blown upward by the wind. Marylin Monroe made it look cute but on me, I look more like a crazy lady trying to keep her skirt down. The length of the skirt is also perfect for me. I am tall and the skirt hits slightly over the knee. That’s a perfect length for me as it flatters me and it stays decent when I sit down. Most dress and skirt patterns that hit mid thigh don’t work for me because the skirt shortens another four inches when I sit down, making it rather uncomfortable for daily wear.

 

Once I finished the dress in 2008, I wore it on several occasions but I never got pictures of it. Last year I couldn’t wear it because I was pregnant, so this year I had my heart set on wearing some cute summer dresses. It was a bit tight but it still fits.

I went to a local playground and took some pictures with a tripod and remote control. In case you’re wondering, the black square thing in my right hand is the remote. I put my hair up for the occasion and added a couple of hair flowers. It made me feel all princess like:

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And to give you a good view of the back:

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As it was a playground, I also tried a couple of pictures on the swing. This is the one that came out best:

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I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! 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.

Fantasy/historic costume: the black and gold jacquard dress

In a previous post I mentioned how unforgiving synthetic fabric is during the summer, when a pretty dress turns into a torture device within a couple of hours in the sun. This didn’t stop me from making more dresses from synthetic fabrics. The historic costumes might want to look away at this point, as this dress is made with a commercial pattern and is in no way historical accurate. I didn’t know what to do with my hair, the hair and make-up are also not historical accurate, landing this dress squarely in the ‘pretty fantasy dress’ category. But hey, it worked! I made this dress around 2004 if I recall correctly, so it’s been a while.

I found this fabric at a one euro per meter sale at the local fabric market in Utrecht. The gold satin was a perfect match and I had been eying this pattern for a while. It was my first try at this type of costume and some things didn’t quite work out. The bodice is fully lined and contains bones to keep it’s shape. The front panel of the bodice came out a bit frumpy and I always thought I might add some beading to the front to cover it up. As I doubt that I will fit into this dress, I’ll probably sell it as is.

The poufy shoulders are a bit heavy with filling so they tend to droop to the side. Not helped by the part on top of the shoulder that is supposed to keep the sleeve up, but stands away from my shoulders despite several attempts to adjust this.

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The back of the dress has visible lace up closure in the  back with a modesty panel behind the eyelets, so it would go up a couple of centimeters. I don’t dare to try it on though, as my size has changed so much through the years. The gold underskirt was pretty easy to add and this costume has a bum roll to create the correct silhouette. Or wear a fanny pack underneath to keep your keys and wallet safe!

As you can see I did pattern matching in the back, something I was rather proud of. These pictures were taking at the boulevard/water in the center of Utrecht.

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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.

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 🙂

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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:

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

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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.

Historic/fantasy costuming: the purple dress

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Besides belly dance costumes I made my fair share of every day clothes, gothic clothes, historic and fantasy costumes. As I am not off on a holiday this summer I decided to rummage through my old pictures and relive the glory days. This is not a belly dance costume but I figured anything costume related might pique your interest.

This purple taffeta dress was made with McCalls 4144. It’s now out of print. The white eyelet lace fabric has lilac and gold thread in it and looks really pretty and delicate up close. The bodice closes with lacing in the back and is fully lined with white cotton. One of the lessons I learned is that synthetic fabric looks pretty but is very sweaty when worn. It didn’t stop me from making more costumes in synthetic fabric, but I always packed a hand fan and water when I was wearing a dress shaped personal sauna.

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The bodice has plastic boning in the lining and this is the rare dress where the off the shoulder style stays in place and looks nice all the time. The downside was that raising my arms was nearly impossible! I made this costume somewhere around 2002 and I wore it at the Wave Gothic Treffen Festival in Leipzig, plus during some Dutch events around the same time. The costume jewelry round brooch in the center of the neckline was purchased at a flea market in Leipzig and is set with AB rhinestones that reflect purples and whites. The last lesson I learned was that a velcro closure on a shoulder bag paired with delicate fabric didn’t work: the underskirt ended up with some nasty pulls from the Velcro.

I ended up selling this dress around 2008 to make room for new costumes. The picture below was taken at the Catherijne Convent in Utrecht, a medieval almshouse that is available to the public. Image 002

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.

Summer reading

One of my favorite pastimes is reading and the summer is the perfect time to catch up on books, magazines and articles. Since I got a tablet I’ve been reading more and more online articles. They are free, there are available for various topics that I am interested in and it only takes about ten to fifteen minutes tops to read. Gold-Bella-Reading

If you love costuming, you’re probably familiar with Sparkly Belly’s website. If you haven’t heard of her before, go to the website and read her articles and tutorials! It includes various projects, like no-sew practice tops, but also directions to create a baladi dress or fully beaded bra and belt set. For the summer, Mao teamed up with Mahin from Daily Bellydance Quickies. They are doing a series on costuming this summer!

Part 1 by Mahin: Belly Dance Costume Inventory

Part 2 by Mao: 3 ways to spice up your old costume

I look forward to the rest of the series 🙂

One of the oldest and biggest resource on the internet is constantly being updated and added to. I am referring to Shira’s website! On every topic you could possibly imagine related to bellydance, from performance tips to how to structure your practice sessions, it includes background information on music, costumes, dance styles and business advice. If you haven’t visited the website for a while, check in and see what’s new.

Remember the time when printed magazines were the best source for what was happening in the belly dance world? One of the biggest and longest running magazines in the US was Habibi. Unfortunately it went out of print in 2002, but Shareen el Safy has put many of the old articles online at The Best of Habibi. Check out the early days of bellydance in the US, in depth articles and interviews with famous dancers.

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! 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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