A random collection of free belly dance stuff

blog-free-stuffI’ve been browsing around the internet, searching for interesting stuff to work with and I thought I’d share the result of my treasure hunt with you. In this blog, I present to you a random collection of free stuff. Some of it is belly dance related, some of it isn’t. Enjoy!

Free customized printable wrapping paper

How awesome is this? Customize your paper, download, print, wrap and gift. Can also be used for origami, creating cards, labels, etc.

Free wrapping paper ready to use

Bright patterned wrapping paper for immediate use. Cheerful and pretty.

Free choli pattern

Black Swan Tribe offers a free choli pattern for personal use. Great for practice wear.

Free belly dance coloring book

The amazing Dawn Devine made a free belly dance coloring book. All you have to do is sign up for her newsletter that is filled with cool stuff about belly dance.

Free printable affirmation

I found these cards pretty, beautiful affirmations and easy to print out and use. Well put together and I love the effect that having an affirmation every now and then has on me.

Free Bellyfit video class

I ccertified as a Bellyfit instructor a couple of years ago and I admire Alice Bracegirdle and the work she puts into the program. Bellyfit is aimed at all women and offers a work-out that nourishes the body and the mind. Plus it incorporates elements of belly dance, Bollywood and African dance.

Free belly dance practice prompts

Mahin is an inspiring teacher. Sign up for her daily bellydance quickies and receive free practice prompts and ideas.

Free podcasts on various bellydance subjects

Nadira Jamal geeks out with guest speakers in this monthly podcasts. Sign up and join the podcast live, or listen to the recording afterwards. There’s a wealth of information over here.

 

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Exciting news

I haven’t written about a rather exciting project that my husband and I are undertaking. When we bought our family home in 2013 we dreamed about remodeling the property to our hearts content. My husband, who is reading this (Hi honey!), happens to be a musician. He likes to play and create music with his friends. Iteach dance classes and I have claimed one of the upstairs bedrooms as my practice and dance-storage space.  But with our family growing, the bedroom needs to be used as a bedroom and we don’t like spending so much time on travelling to our practice space as we have far less free time. We’d rather be playing/dancing!

We talked extensively about our dreams and ideas and we decided to go through an extensive remodeling of our property. Our garage has been torn down and will be replaced by a fully functional albeit small sized dance studio. The official opening of the studio will be in June, as the contractor will also build an addition to the side of the house. We will live in utter chaos for roughly six months and even have to relocate our family including our baby and dog for a couple of weeks to make it happen.

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November 1th: the garage is gone

I have never had so many meetings with official sounding people but the plans are finished, the finances are taken care of and 5his week the contractor started by tearing down the garage. What does this mean?

  • We will have a freestanding studio space in the back yard, that will function as a small dance studio starting in June 2017.
  • The studio is located in our backyard and we will limit the use of the studio in lieu of the privacy of our family. It is mostly for personal use and we will not program activities in it every day/night.

The studio allows me to focus more on teaching workshops to small groups. I’ve developed a prenatal belly dance workshop and course that I’ll schedule on a regular base, plus I love to do workshops for belly dancers on subjects that are rarely taught. Examples of what I have in mind:

  1. Rare folkloric themes like Nubian, Tunesian, etc;
  2. The business side of belly dance like maintaining your own website, creating flyers, taxes;
  3. Creative workshops on making costume items.

This summer I have been using the evenings to work on the programming, developing marketing material and improving my lesson plans. I am focusing on the Dutch market but some of my dance material will also be published in English. Stay tuned for ideas and materials to spice up your belly dance practice. The next six months will be exciting, busy, scary and filled with the sound of men at work.

Halloween Hafla

Summer is finally leaving over here in The Netherlands and the chill of autumn is in the air. Falling leaves, hot chocolate… for the Dutch, it’s time to enjoy pepernoten, tidy up the garden and look forward to fall break. Or is it just me?

Halloween is gaining in popularity over here and I always wanted to do a Halloween themed bellydance party. When our last bellydance party was scheduled on October 5th, I figured it was close enough to Halloween to turn it into a Halloween Hafla! Just a few minor hiccups, including me being short on time and having to prepare the program, playlist, workshop and performance schedule. In the end it all worked out as I decided to make it a bit minimalistic.

Sara brought in black backdrops with white creepy animals. I did a bit of last minute Halloween DIY by cutting white paper in the shape of ghosts, orange paper in the shape of pumpkins and using a black marker to give them eyes and a mouth. As a good luck charm for the performers I drew pumpkin faces on mandarins.


For my own costume I reused whatever I had in my closet. A tiered skirt with shisha mirrors and sari border on the bottom, I quickly attached a coin and mirror bra cover to a black bra and added a black velvet wrap top for more coverage. The bra took me more time than I anticipated: about three hours. That’s because I sport a larger bra size these days and I needed to take the cover apart to fit it properly over the bra. The belt was even more work as it turned out to be a bit lopsided. This was to be expected as I bought it as a ‘flawed item’ and I got a really good price because of it’s flaws.


My solo was to ‘Black Magic Woman’ from Santana. Couldn’t find a decent witch hat so I had to do without. I am really pleased with the overall look of our group performance. Keep in mind that this is a student troupe that is not solely dedicated to ATS.

The workshop was well attended followed by four performances that all had a bit of a spooky accent. I say it was a success! I’m hoping to have a similar hafla next year, slightly bigger maybe.

 

 

 

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.