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.

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 2: the bra base

I did mention that I have little time on my hands, right? The last couple of weeks I made it a habit to bring a costuming item to the couch when I watch  tv and this really helps me to get stuff done.After the last post I promised to post pictures of the bra base seperately because I assembled it by using my sewing machine.

When I started costuming, I read all the available tutorials and decided early on that I would use my sewing machine. My arguments are that all the straps can be made, covered and added with a sewing machine. Why would I spent hours on sewing them by hand if it only takes 45 minutes with a sewing machine? Machine stitching is just as secure as hand stitching, I have never had a bra strap give out on me. The thrid reason might be because hand stitching delivers a neater result. However, I usually cover my bra completely with beading and sequins. If you have never tried using a sewing machine to assemble a bra base, I urge you to give it a try. After all, normal bra’s are also made with a sewing machine. Just be careful with the underwire and the many layers of fabric, causing your needle to break.

The reason why I wanted to blog about the bra seperately is because I also covered the straps in sequined netting before attaching them to the bra thus saving even more time! You’d think with all this time saving I’d have more time to spend lounging around watching bellydance clips on youtube but that didn’t happen yet.

I started by cutting of the side straps and shoulder straps of a regular black push-up bra.

Bra witout the straps
Bra witout the straps

I put the bra cups on a bit of white cotton and drew the shape of the side straps. My side straps are straight at the bottom and slightly curved on top and I draw them on sight. It has always worked for me. I made the straps significantly longer (roughly 3″/7.5 cm each) to create a bigger overlap in the back. I like to add hook and eye closure and velcro to my ribcage straps, I need the overlap to add both types of closures.

I decided to cover the whole thing with sequined netting instead of beading by hand. For the straps, I needed to cover it in sequined netting before attaching the straps to the bra. I cut out two layers of whte cotton for both sides, then covered both straps in black lycra just like the belt. Usually when I cover a set in fabric, I fold it over the edges and hand stitch into place on the inside of the costume. With sequined fabric, this is not a good idea. Sequins in close and constant contact with your skin itches more than an ant colony with a grudge.

Side straps for the bra base
Side straps for the bra base

My grand master plan was stitch the sequined fabric to the top of the straps, cutting it off a couple of mm from the edge. The resulting slightly frayed edge would be held in place by a zig zag stitch, ensuring the sequins would stay on the fabric and hidden by beading along the edges with gold seed beads. The side straps were thus covered with this method, and attached to the bra by machine. Pin them into place, then slowely double stitch along the egdes of the wire in the bra. I broke two needles in the proces, other then that it was smooth sailing.

Cut off surplus fabric of the side straps
Cut off surplus fabric of the side straps
Bra cups with new side straps
Bra cups with new side straps

The shoulder straps were wraught in a similar way and attached to the inside of the bra cups. I kept the rest of the bra cup in it’s original shape. The devious thing about my plan is that I didn’t cover the bra cups in lycra because they are made of black fabric. I covered the connector with a scrap of sequinend fabric and stitched it down by hand. Then I took a rectangular piece of sequined fabric and covered the bra cup.

Cut out lycra to cover shoulder straps
Cut out lycra to cover shoulder straps

I like to cover my bra cups by starting on the straight edge of the bra and folding the fabric so it neatly covers the joint with the cup connector. From that point, I pin the fabric to the bra moving outwards. First I pin the straight top (in this case I used the sequined fabric to cover up the original bra shape) and down to the top of the side strap. Returning to the starting point, I pin the fabric along the lower edge of the bra, making sure to keep the sequined fabric on the outside. I end up with a sort of flap of fabric.

Covering bra cups with fabric: pin down the sides
Covering bra cups with fabric: pin down the sides

In this case, I cut off the flap, folded the edges to the inside, pinned and hand stitched into place. This creates a neat seam from the side strap to the apex of the cup. If you are going to over the bra with beading, don’t worry about creating even seams. If you plan on not using much decorating, pay extra attention to make this seam as neat and even as possible.

Cut off the remaining flap
Cut off the remaining flap
Fold raw edges to the inside and hand stitch into place
Fold raw edges to the inside and hand stitch into place

Still lazy, I sewed the fabric to the edges of the bra cup with my machine.

Sewing fabric to a bra cup with my sewing machine
Sewing fabric to a bra cup with my sewing machine

Ta-daa, the complete bra base covered in sequined fabric! The total time to create this bra from scratch was two hours. Here is a gratatious shot of the bra, belt and armbands all covered in sequined fabric.

Complete set of bra, belt and armbands
Complete set of bra, belt and armbands

In the next post, I’ll tell you all about decorating the bra.

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

Asymetrical Egyptian costume- update I

Since I screwed up on the dress I might as well do something fun with the leftovers. I designed a modern caïro costume from the leftovers and I think I can make it if I scrape everything together. This is the belt sofar:

I wanted an assymetrical beltshape, preferably seperate from the skirt because it’s more versatile. So I started of with a basic egyptian belt pattern, made it asymmetrical, covered it in black burned out velvet:

Then cut strips of the right size, gathered them at regular intervals, pinned top and sides to belt base and worked from there evening out the gathers. Pinned then hand baste into place:

Stitched rhinestone chain on the draped area’s for some bling. I’m considering adding chunky bella style draped fringe to black area’s, maybe some swags hanging from the bottom, and that’s it. After all, modern Caïro style is all about being minimalistic, isn’t it? I’ll scan the design sketch when I’m back from Barcelona next weekend.

Black velvet costume picture update

The idea of this costume came to me when I was digging through the piles of fabric that I have in my fabric stash. About 6 years ago I bought heavy, luxurious black stretch velvet and started making a catsuit out of it, but never finished it. The catsuit is still almost done, so I’m going to use the bottom part as pants for this costume. I also bought purple/pink/black iridiscent fabric two years ago, because it’s so shiny and I wanted it. the rhinestone chain came into view when I vistited a local craft store who sells expensive sewing stuff. I decided to go for the minimalistic look, mainly because the fabric is so lush. The rhinestones really stand out (there is a strand in the draped part too, but it don’t show well in the picture). The bra is almost finished by now.

This is the bra laid out on the floor. It’s a hard cup bra, reinforced with wire and sturdy enough to wear as a n almost strapless bra.

this is me, wearing the bra. I’m adding an assymetrical strap with a rhinestone chain on it from the middle of the bra over one shoulder. ALways loved the one strap look, Jillina’s costume on one of her instructional dvd’s made me think serious about it, because it worked for her, why couldn’t it work for me? I want to hang some rhinestone loops from the bottom of one half to the back for some added sparkle and move.

You can see how it site on me. It needs a little padding, but it stays put when I move around and I have no major gap/spill so the basic shape is good. I’m not sure about the acrylic jewels, I think I’m going to remove them because they are too shiny and gaudy for this costume. Whaddaya think?

Working on this one got me some more ideas in my head. The bra is progressing faster then I expected, when I made the drawing I expected that it would take much longer. This cossie needs a sleek choreo with a lot of fast, snakelike move, leaning towards modern dance, or something with arabic pop.

No, no pictures of the rest. I haven’t scanned the drawing, but to give you a general idea: black velvet bellbottom pants with build in zipper. The purple iridiscent fabric will be draped from one hip on the front towards the other hip on the back. I intend to stitch it and leave the zipper open, then use a clasp construction to hide the zipper iunderneath the drape. The drape will end in a loose end of hanging fabric (midcalf length). I want one upperarmband with a piece of iridescent fabric attatched to fly around when I dance, a wristband for the other arm and I want to incorporate silver beaded fringe in the pants. Don’t know wether it will be a row or clumps, loops or hanging, we’ll see.