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.

 

Gold mesh costume – part 2

This is where I get to take everything apart! In order to reuse the mesh, I am deconstructing the bra and removing the beads and pieces of mesh. If the hook and eye closures are in good shape, I will reuse those too. The bra base doesn’t work for me so that one will be thrown out. The bra is edges in gold seed beads that are in good shape so I’ll reuse those too.

This is what I got to work with for the bra.

gold mesh bra 01

I’ve covered the Dina bra base with fabric. For the construction I chose to add side straps that are non-stretch so I can add mesh to the sides too. In addition to the non-stretch part, I’m adding elastic covered in fabric to the ends of the straps so the finished bra will be a bit more comfortable to wear and easy to resize while I get back into shape. I used the gold beads to edge the bra with a bit of beading, adding an extra bit of sparkle.

gold mesh bra 04

I am  a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I’ve been sewing and crafting stuff for over twenty years, for theaters, dance costumes, historic costumes and regular clothes.. If you enjoyed this post and like to kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydanceon 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 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 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.

Black multi color costume part 3: beading the bra

Beading the multi-color bra

With a shiny new bra base ready to be decorated, it was time to salvage what I could from the original bra. As I suspected, all pearls had to be thrown out because the paint was peeling off the beads. The beaded fringe was in okay shape, here and there a couple of strands had given up and the fringe was a bit loose on the thread with a bit of  wiggle room between beads.

The gold seed beads were used to bead the shoulder straps and the top edge of the bra but I wanted to bead the whole edge. When I ran out I ordered 3mm gold seed beads from a Dutch website. She was quick with her response and shipping. The beads came in the next day and I was ready to continue. I used a regular rope beading technique, with five beads per stitch. This went insanely fast with 3mm seed beads: I rope beaded the whole edge in two hours. Another reason for using the bigger type of seed beads is that the holes are bigger, making it easier to get your needle through. If given a choice, always go for the bigger seed beads!

After finishing the rope beading I transfered the acrylic jewels and lined them with new pearls I had lying around. It was already looking rather fetching, if I say so myself. In order to get the pearls neatly around the gems, I stitched them on working from the outside to the inside of the gem, allowing the pearls a bit of room to ‘settle’.

The new bra with the beadwork
The new bra with the beadwork

 

I stitched the beaded fringe into place and covered the seam with smaller acrylic jewels and pearls. I am not sure if I want to keep the fringe at this length, or create more of a V-shape by shortening the outside strands on the cup. I will decide later, for now I wanted to finish the bra so I can wear the costume.

The new bra on top, the vintage bra below
The new bra on top, the vintage bra below

 

Close-up of the beadwork
Close-up of the beadwork

To make sure that it fitted, I added the hook and eye closure to the sidestraps and pinned the halterstraps together. I have a bit of room for padding, otherwise it fits perfectly. Remember when I wrote about the sequinned fabric not covering the edges? It works, no itching sequins on my skin!

Beading the multi-color bra
Beading the multi-color bra

Stay tuned for part 4, where I am adding the lining to the bra 🙂

Gold applique redo

I am continuing to go through my ‘small sewing chores’ pile. I bought a white costume in 2008 on bhuz which had two straps going across the belly. To keep everything in place, the previous owner added a gold beaded applique in the center. The applique was in bad shape when I bought the costume because it had no backing.

Removing the applique from the costume was easy as it was practically falling apart. I added white felt to the back and stitched the beads and sequins to the felt, then reattached to the costume. One more chore is done!

I am contemplating my next sewing chore and I feel like doing a full costume. Fromt he top of my head, my options are:

1. I have some lovely blue lycra that Bea send to me two years ago and a contrast lycra that looks fresh and vibrant together. It would be a modern Egyptian style assymetrical design

2.I have a black velvet and purple/lilac mesh pants costume that has been lying in my closet since 2004. It is close to completion but I wouldn’t have an occassion to wear it. It doesn’t have enough bling for performances and is too showy for regular classes. However, the design is nice and sleek, assymetrical lines and drapes, strass buckles and nice beading.

3. I bought a worn down gold Eman costume with gold metal mesh. I need to make a new skirt/bra base and transfer the metal mesh parts. I am not very excited about this one, as it is a refurbish instead of an original creation. But I can’t sell it as is, have worn it twice with a veil to cover up the part where the holographic print is worn away. Sell as is, or refurbish.

4.I bought a whole bunch of small round mirrors with the idea of making a mirror costume, probably on a teal holographic lycra background. You can guess how long the mirrors have been in my possession. This would be a great costume, a bit heavy and prone to damage, but the gluing of the mirrors shouldn’t be as time consuming as doing a full blown out beading.

What project would you love to see me do next?

Pink Turkish costume part 13: Beading and fringe on the bra

Several anxious dancers asked me on april the third if I had finished the costume on time. I did finish it on time, I put the lining in on Friday. What I might not have mentioned yet is that I was the event organizer for the show, together with the lovely Arya. In addition to organizing the event I was also performing three song in the show: a solo, a duet and a group performance.

The last days before the show were spent on emailing people who bought tickets in the pre-sale, practicing the choreographies, and last minute problem solving. This update is late, but hopefully still fun to read 🙂

In the last post, I showed how I covered the bra and itwas ready for beading. The beading and the fringe on the bra are the icing on the cake and it ook me close to 20 hours to complete both. Let”s start with the beading. Andalee asked me why I only made cut-outs on one bra cup. I designed the bra to be asymmetrical,and I beaded two curls on one cup and added two paisley appliqués to the other cup. I also made the shoulder straps and went with the crossed in the back strap configuration. The choreography has several hair tosses and flips and I needed this bra to be as secure as possible.
After the beading I decided to add short fringe instead of long fringe. I made a silver bra with several layers of long fringe in the past and it didn’ork for me. The short fringe would add extra emphasis on the v-shape of the design, and add extra movement without shortening my upper body. Though beading shorter fringe takes slightly less time then beading long fringe, it still took me a couple of hours to get it done. I watched several episodes of Andromeda which I find aweful, though strangely fascinating. I prefer scifi series with more science and better fiction. Also, Kevin Sorbo should not be allowed to command a spaceship.
and a sort of side view:
The bra is very comfortable to wear, once you got the whole cross-back straps thing figured out. And it stayed on well during the hair tosses 🙂 I also made an upper arm thingie and a hand thingie, hopefully the pictures of the event will arrive soon and I can show you the live pictures. I went with the pink lycra skirt for the show, as my partner was wearing a teal Bella wth a lighter toned lycra skirt.

Green velvet costume part 5: back of the skirt

Warning: this post contains images of extreme amounts of rhinestones and may cause temporary blindness due to all the glitter.

In part 4 you could see the progress on the front of the skirt, replacing the old beading with new beading. I’m not extremely pleased with the beading on the front, as I think the middle curl is too small. It would look better if it was bigger, but then again I vowed to myself to finish as many projects as I can in 2011. On January 1th 2012 everything that is left from my fabric stash, sequins, rhinestones, etc, will be given away to people who will make good use of them. My standards of what a finished costume should be have been lowered so I can get away with making more costumes this year.

Let’s travel back through time and look at the beading on the back of the skirt that I did in January:

I added gold cluster fringe too but didn’t take a picture. I removed the gold sequins and laid out a new pattern with rhinestone chain. I left yellow threads in the fabric because I used it as a general guide to where I wanted to place the curls.

I went with the ‘looks symmetrical but is asymmetrical’ trick as I like costumes to contain little surprise elements. The human eye is drawn towards symmetry, yet lingers longer when it discovers a conundrum. Like a costume that looks symmetrical at first glance, but turns out to be asymmetrical at second glance. Good to know that my degree in psychology is put to good use:

While I was finishing the skirt, it bugged me that the upper edge of the bra weren’t completely smooth and showed a tiny extension where I had cut off the original straps. So opened up the lining on the bra, removed the beading on the edge and fixed it. ANd this is what the costume looks like when worn together:.Front:

Back:

The only thing left to do is making gloves/armbands and a headband, edged with gold seed beads. I also wanted to add a waist strap to the skirt, starting at the indentation in the waistband on the left hip, traveling around the waist and back to the waistband. For now I’m going to let the costume rest, as I have a student recital next weekend and my students might need to borrow skirts from me. I have two huge pieces of chiffon like fabric that I want to turn into skirts. To be specific, I’ve had those two chunks of fabric for over three years now, with the intention of making skirts. It’s a good thing I’m making an extra effort to use the stuff in my stash this year!