Black multi color costume part 5: the armbands

Finished arm bands

The black multicolor costume is well on it’s way. I made a new belt base, a bra base, I decorated the bra and lined it. Before continuing with the belt I needed a short project with a quick result. The key to keeping yourself motivated for complicated sewing projects is by cutting it into smaller chunks. Every time I finish a chunk, I remind myself how I am getting closer to the ultimate goal of creating a completely new costume.

So, I decided to work on the matching armbands. The original costume had arm bands made of stretchy sequin ribbon. For the remake I wanted something that mirrored the scallops on the belt and that showcased the bright jewels. I didn’t feel like taking the high road by carefully creating a paper pattern, instead I took a marker and drew the shape of the armbands on white felt and cut out two of the same shapes.

The outline of the armbands on white felt
The outline of the armbands on white felt

I covered both shapes with black lycra by pinning the lycra into place and using the sewing machine to stitch it together.

The armbands covered in lycra
The armbands covered in lycra

I then continued with ading the sequined fabric on top. Using a zig zag stitch to attach the fabric to the armbands, I then cut off the remaining sequined fabric. Watch me go crazy by taking this picture on the diagonal instead of horizontal.

Armbands covered in sequinned fabric
Armbands covered in sequinned fabric

The beading is similar to the bra: I added rope beading along the edges and stitched jewels edged in pearl in the center of the bands. I left the ends of the armbands unbeaded on purpose, to make it easier to attach black elastic. I cut out two pieces of lining big enough to line the arm bands.

Armband on a piece of lining material
Armband on a piece of lining material

In order for the fabric to follow the scallops, I needed to make a couple of cuts to create ease in the lining fabric. I made cuts at the places where the fabric might be tense, where the design dents inward.

Small cuts to allow for ease
Small cuts to allow for ease

I pinned the lining to the armband with a couple of pins in the center, then started pinning and folding the lining to make it follow the scalloped edges of the design. I started out in the center and worked outwards. As you can see, I am still pinning constently from the outside inward. Consistency in the work proces helps to create consitent quality in the finished product. In other words: once you find out what works for you to create a high quality costume, make sure to stick with it every step of the way.

Manipulating the lining to follow the scallops
Manipulating the lining to follow the scallops

 

Once pinned, you can already see what the end result will look like.

Lining completely pinned to the arm band
Lining completely pinned to the arm band

With sewing the lining down, I left the side parts open, leaving a gap for the black elastic. In essence this is not neccesary, the elastic could just as easily be sewn on top of the lining and the arm band would have been fine. I made this choice because I like the look where the edges of the elastic are hidden behind the lining. Here I am poking the hole with a pen to show you what it looks like, as black on black was hard to photograph :-).

The gap left open for elastic
The gap left open for elastic

All I needed to do was find a piece of black elastic, shove it between the lining on both side and pin it. I tried it on for size and adjusted the elastic accordingly before stitching it into place.

Elastic pinned to the arm band
Elastic pinned to the arm band

 

Finished arm bands
Finished arm bands

 

Weehee! I am happy with finishing these and I am continuing with the belt.

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How to add elastic to non-stretch arm bands

Arm band without and with elastic

Most bellydance costumes come with accesoires, like arm bands, gauntlets or sleeves. The past couple of years I was short on time so instead of making my costumes, I bought a couple and those costumes came with arm bands. Arm bands that, despite the addition of a bit of elastic, wouldn’t stay on my arms.

As this is a common problem, I’ll show you how I add elastic to non-stretch arm bands hoping that it will save you time and frustration with your own costuming endeavours.

What do you need?

The arm band(s)

Matching thread

Elastic, width should fit within your arm band

A couple of pins

A (wine) bottle

You could use any bottle, but it happens that the wine bottle was the first one available.

Red thread and pins
Red thread and pins

Take the wine bottle and place it in front of you. Take the arm band, flip it inside out and put it on top of the wine bottle. Pull it down until it is fully stretched, like so.

Arm band on wine bottle, notice the start of the 'thread casing' of the elastic on the left.
Arm band on wine bottle, notice the start of the ‘thread casing’ of the elastic on the left.

Pin the elastic in place, thread your needle and create a ‘thread casing’ for the elastic by taking the needle across, pushing it through the fabric and emerging a couple of mm to the left of where you entered te fabric. Rinse, repeat. Here’s a drawing in an attempt to better explain what to do, but from a left hand perspective.

Creating a 'thread casing' for elastic
Creating a ‘thread casing’ for elastic

Continue sewing all around the arm band. In the end, pull the elastic taut and sew into place. Put the arm band on your arm before cutting the exces elastic off to make sure it is the right fit. On the outside the armband will look identical, but on the inside it now contains elastic that will keep it secure on your arm.

Arm band without and with elastic
Arm band without and with elastic

That’s it for today, keep on dancing and see you next time!