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:

cherry 2

And to give you a good view of the back:

cherry 01

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

cherry 3

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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Bunting DIY tips

I’m in the middle of getting things done for the nursery and with the warning in the back of my head that babies can be born a couple of weeks before the due date, I’m trying to get it all done in the next couple of weeks. Not that the stuff that I’m making is essential for the survival of our offspring or for my own physical wellbeing. It’s because sewing and crafting one of those activities that help me deal with the completely normal anxiety that is part of the whole ‘creating a person’ process. As long as my hands are busy, my mind is calm.

All the nursery and baby stuff gives me a good excuse to buy all the cute printed fabric that I love, but didn’t have a use for before. Kuddo’s to all the costumers and crafters out there who use printed cotton fabric to line their bellydance costumes, like Ozma and Andalee. It looks so cute to have pretty printed fabric lining a sparkly bellydance costume! I prefer lining my costumes in neutral colors so I kept on looking at all the pretty fabrics and thinking about all the wonderful stuff I could make one day. That day has come!!

I am making a festive line of flags as decoration once our little one is born, plus I can put it up in the nursery as decoration. In Dutch, we call ‘m ‘vlaggetjes’, roughly translated to ‘ small flags’. Searching for a tutorial online I found out that the English word is bunting, after the fabric used. Here’s an overview of some extensive bunting tutorials on bunting:

Sew What!  – love the colorscheme

The sewing directory

Joyful abode– this one got bells on

Glorious Treats

The Goodness – minimal sewing

The frugal homemaker – no sew bunting. For those of you who don’t sew but still want in on the fun

For the record, this blog is not a tutorial, but a talk through the process that I used and some tips.

Why make your own?

Buying fabric bunting in stores is very easy: they have a lot of variations at low prices. I prefer to make my own because and because I don’t want to support a system where people in sweatshops work in bad circumstances. I strongly feel that a fun item for a festive occasion like the birth of my child should not be made by child labor. Plus, even if it doesn’t involve child labor, the quality of the material and workmanship of store bought items is different from my home made projects.

I enjoy making my own because I can make bunting in the color, length and quality that I want. Did I mention the fabric shopping? Anyone who sews or crafts know that buying supplies is absolutely necessary and that at least two to three times the amount of materials sh0uld be bought of what is actually needed for the project. I have a craft room that’s stuffed to the brim because of this.

Supplies

At the local fabric market I bought a couple of small fabric coupons (0.5 x 1.4 m) of the Stenzo printed fabric selection. I picked colors that match the pink, turquoise and purple of the wall decal in the nursery. I used eight different fabrics, matching thread and 3 m of white bias tape, 1 cm/ 2/5″wide. Most of the matching thread came from my stash.

Colorful cotton fabric
Colorful cotton fabric

Proces

I created a template by cutting a triangle out of a blank piece of paper and cut two flags of each fabric. My bias tape is 3 m so that should be enough to get one line of bunting done. I cut sixteen flags but ended up using fourteen because I left a piece of bias tape empty at the ends so it can be tied or pinned.

Paper pattern plus fabric pieces
Paper pattern plus fabric pieces

I sewed the flags together with the right sides facing inward, then turned the flags inside out. My kitchen drawer held a sate skewer that was perfect for pushing the point of the flag completely outward. I like to do this type of craft project on intuition, since measuring takes a lot of time compared to laying stuff out by eye. For the record, for garments and other items that require a good fit, I’m always going crazy with the measuring, cutting and seam allowances because in those cases every mm counts to get a good fit.

One of the most important steps for a neat end result is pressing. I use an old iron to press fabric while I sew, because sometimes icky stuff get’s stuck to the iron when using Vlieseline. Besides pressing the flags, I also folded the bias tape so it was already creating a neat line. This really helped with the pinning and sewing of the bunting and I highly recommend it. While buying supplies at the fabric market I was adviced me to buy extra wide bias tape because  1cm/ 2/5″is quite narrow to work with. If you are inexperienced at sewing, use wider tape as it will be easier. I’d use 2 cm/ 4/5″ maximum, otherwise the tape would look rather clunky compared to the flags.

Pressing cotton
Pressing cotton with my vintage Philips iron.

It took me an evening to complete the bunting and I am rather pleased with the result. Before I show you the end result, here are my top tips for making a bunting.

My top tips for making your own bunting

  • Leave the bias tape at the end empty so you’ll have room to tie the bunting to an anchor point if needed
  • Use a thin stick or a knitting needle to help turn the flag inside out completely, down to the smallest point
  • Press!! Keep an iron and ironing board ready to create clean folds and seams
  • Press the bias tape so it is easier to pin and sew the flags into place
  • If you want to make your life easier, use wide bias tape

 

This little things go a long way in creating a bunting that is colorful, pretty and well made. Huzzah!!

Finished bunting

I am  a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I’ve been sewing and crafting stuff for over twenty years and have no intention of stopping
. If you enjoyed this post and like to 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 and I might write a blog post to answer your costuming question.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!