Super quick belly dance bra

Our little one is almost five months old and we’re getting into a daily routine that works with both our day jobs, the kids day care, the dog day care, my weekly bellydance classes, my husbands weekly classes and rehearsals, bellydance events and keeping the household running. No wonder I feel a bit worn out!

Working on a costuming project or with my sewing machine is my way to unwind after a busy day. When the baby is asleep, the dog is dreaming underneath the coffee table and the laundry and dishes are done, I hop on the couch and chat with my husband or we watch a bit tv together while I sew. 

For a recent hafla I needed a purple dance bra but I didn’t have time to completely rework a badic bra, or buy supplies. Instead I bought a basic purple bra from an outlet I could visit duringg my lunch break. I kept all the straps and decided to add beads to make it more glamorous. I found a bit of leftover gold trim in my stash from one of the first costumes I made and stitched it to the top of the bra.

 
I unearthed a bag of gaudy plastic beads, left over from when I completely remade a Neckelman’s bra. I started adding beaded drapes to the bra, starting on the outside and slowly working towards the center of the bra. The whole thing took me about two hours, which meant it took me about three days to finish, right on time for the hafla.

  
It worked well on stage and it is very comfortable to wear. I wouldn’t recommend it for professional performances and such, but as a quick bra for a student troupe performance it worked like a charm. What are your favorite quick diy projects?

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 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!  

Moon Goddess part 1: the skirt and belt

Moongoddess belt with fringe

The Moon Goddess costume is finished and had it’s first on stage outing! I’ve been busy with teaching the last class before the Summer holiday, the student recital of my own students (who did an awesome job) and the student recital of my dance friend roos Belinfante. So much to do, so little time!

The skirt

You might have seen the Moon Goddess skirt  in passing when I posted about circle skirts. I used close-ups of the side seams for my post about finishing straight seams. And I ended up edging the hem with fishing wire, so it’s very  swooshy. But I didn’t post a picture of the finished skirt yet, so here you go.

Circle skirt with finished hem
Moon Goddess skirt! Swoosh!

While working on this skirt it occured to me that if you never worked with chiffon before, it might be handy to know:

  1. Chiffon is semi-transparant. Either make a two layer skirt to decrease the amount of exposure, layer the skirt on top of another skirt/pants or wear leggings underneath;
  2. It is a slippery fabric. Make sure to pin well with sharp pins;
  3. Because blunt pins might cause a thread to be pulled, creating pulls in your skirt. And that would be a shame after all the hard work you’re putting in.

The skirt took up a couple of hours but I always wanted a white circle skirt. It’s so dreamy, I can imagine so many different combinations I could make with my dance wardrobe.

The belt

I think I left off with the sketch in my post outlining the project. After the black and multi-color costume I still had some felt left over and I used it to create the belt base. I made the belt base into two pieces and I choose to add a bit of extra length on both pieces. During pregnancy it is considered normal and a woman is expected to gain 24-36 pounds. Since I am halfway there, being slightly over four months, I am already seeing the changes in my body. Making this costume bigger seemed like a smart plan, as I have performances planned up until half September when I’m seven months along.

The belt base was covered by scraps of chiffon. I first pinned the folds down, then stitched it into place with small stitches. I am not completley satisfied with the effect but it’s not bad for the first time of me trying this technique. Wedding dress makers have to practice a long time to get ruching and pleating down to an art (and it shows). I like to look at weddingdresses for inspiration on pleating and ruching as it is very inspiring to see the beautiful things the weddingdress industry makes.

This is the first time that I used pre-beaded rhinestone trim and I am positive about the experience. Easy to cut and stitch to the fabric, though I spend some extra time on finishing the edges of the trim.

moon goddess belt with rhinestones
Moon goddess belt with rhinestones

To make sure that the belt would fit, I pinned the two parts together and try it on. It fit! WIth a bit of extra overlap to spare, phew. I took out the prebeaded fringe and cut a couple of larger pieces for the lower part of the belt (8 cm wide/ 3″wide). There was some loss of strands but since it was such great quality, it held up well. I then continued cutting smaller pieces to add as accents inbetween the bigger pieces. I ended up with this arrangement.

Moongoddess belt with fringe
Moongoddess belt with fringe

To hide the attachement of the fringe to the belt, I sewed a big teardropped rhinestone on top. They were left over from adding rhinestones to my vintage gold Bella. I felt pretty good about the progress I was making and to my suprise, the one piece of fringe was enough for the whole costume. I’ll keep the other pieces for new projects, I have a c ouple of things in mind that would work. Next time, more about the bra 🙂

I am  a bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I enjoy blogging and I have big plans for the future with regards to writing and publishing books and such. I am currently four and a half months pregnant with my first child, which is very exciting. I plan on dancing through most of my pregnancy, we’ll see how that works out.  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!

Project: Moon goddess

Sketch for Moon goddess bellydance costume

Yup, I finished the black multi color costume and I decided to continue with stash busting. I always wanted to make a goddess type costume with flowing white chiffon and a lot of AB crystals. Through the years, I made several drawings and sketches, playing around with the design. This is my most recent sketch, I drew it by hand and did a bit of coloring with photoshop.

Sketch for Moon goddess bellydance costume
Sketch for Moon goddess bellydance costume

The bra ad belt will be covered with chiffon that has been pleated and sewn into place. The beaded trim is accenting the upper edge of the belt and lower edge of the bra. Some draped fabric hanging off the shoulder creates an interesting line and some movement from the shoulder strap. The general idea is Golden Era meets goddess. Since I am preparing a performance where I am symbolizing the moon, I’ll call this one the Moon Goddess costume.

The good news is that I have most of the materials already in my stash, probably because I collect fabric and beads like a squirrel collects nuts.

  • White felt that I can use for the belt base
  • White tricot fabric to cover the bra and belt base
  • Some scraps of white chiffon left over from student veils I made about a year ago
  • About two yards of rhinestone AB trim, bought from a Chinese store on eBay
  • Left over fringe pieces in bright silver, patent silver and white silver (yes, three different types of silver)

What do you think, should I use one type of fringe? two types? three types? and if I have to choose, which one would work best? I have a yard of each. Leave a comment below or on my facebook post.

Fringe for the moon goddess costume
Fringe for the moon goddess costume

Where to buy high quality beaded fringe

White silver rounded beads fringe

I get a lot of questions about where I buy my beaded fringe because it is hard to determine the quality of the fringe from a picture on a screen. In this post I gathered a couple of reliable vendors and websites that sell beaded fringe.

For American buyers

Pepper Alexandria on Facebook. Several of my friends bought fringe from her and they like the quality and service.

Horus and isis – Excellent quality beaded fringe. They have a minimum order of 150 usd but they are the genuine deal. Just look at that fringe.I have two pieces of fire fringe from Horus and Isis in my stash that I have big plans for. They also carry swagged fringe and various color combinations.

Turquoise International -Carries superb quality fringe with, unfortunatly, very high prices. I like browsing through their catalogue for inspiration.

Scheherezade Imports – They sell beaded fringe, and show on their website what’s in stock.

For European buyers

Since I am on the European side of the ocean, I’ve noticed that it is often cheaper and faster to buy directly from Egypt. Be careful through, the quality might vary. In my experience, the fringe I got through eBay is lower quality compared to the more expensive fringe I got from Sakkara.de. Sakkara seams to no longer carry costuming supplies.

Tabou.de – Limited colors, but good quality and they are fast with shipping within the EU.

B3ad3d on eBay – A friend bought fringe here and was suprised by the nice quality. Don’t expect excellence for this  pricem he is trustworthy and ships from Egypt

Nadya’s Bazar – This is a German costumer who is selling her surplus stash. I have never bought from her but her website is fabulous, a great costuming resource. And someone who shows such meticulous attention and patience in her costuming is likely to use the same competence in selling her extra stash 🙂

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 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 🙂

How to recognize good quality beaded fringe

Though there are no rules set in stone when it comes to costuming, I strongly believe that using good quality materials and supplies for your costume is the best decision you can make. I can’t make a long lasting high quality costume with low quality materials. What happens to costumes when they are made with low quality materials? The paint from the beads will soon start to flake, the glass beads will break, crystals get scratched and loose their shine, fabric will fray, tear or start to pill and your fringe will break and fall apart.

Breaded fringe is one of the most effective material to use in a bellydance costume and also the one that causes the most trouble when it breaks down. Stepping into tiny beads during a performance is painful and covering the stage with beads coming from your fringe can cause harm to other performers.

Wearing a costume will influence how quickly a costume is in need of repair, but choosing materials carefully before starting a project will keep the regular upkeep to a minimum.  I like to spend less time on costume upkeep and more time on dancing :-). When beaded fringe gets damaged, it looses fringe creating a bit of a jagged and sparse look. The little bit of wiggle room created by jagged edges on beads is allowing the beads to move around on the thread during movement, causing even more wear. Jagged edges also act like a mini knife (if you ever cut yourself on broken glass, you know what I am talking about) and slowely saw through the threads holding the fringe together. In the example below, you can see an example of what damaged fringe looks like.

Damaged beaded fringe
Damaged beaded fringe

The fringe in this image happens to be twenty year old high quality Egyptian fringe. Given the age and the amount of use and abuse, I’d say this fringe is holding up great. In fact, most of the fringe is in such a good state that I can reuse it into a new costume I am making.

What is beaded fringe?

One of the best time saving materials for costumers is (pre) beaded fringe. Beaded fringe is hand made and thus on the expensive side. If you compare the amount of beads that go into making the fringe and the amount of labor to make your own, beaded fringe is a steal. Not having to slave away hours and hours on beading your own is a big plus in my book!

The fringe is sewn to a heavy cord, allowing you to cut and sew the fringe on your costume as you see fit. The most common type of beaded fringe is straight fringe, in 4″ / 10 cm and 8 / 20cm length. Beaded fringe is usually knotted to a cord of approximately “1 yard/ 1 meter. For a belt, I use approximately one piece and a bit for a size 12 /EU size 42 hips.

Beaded fringe is also available though less common as beaded swags, or in ‘triangle sets’. These triangle sets consist of two pieces for the belt and one for the bra, beaded small at the ends and long in the center, thus creating a triangle shape.

Triangle fringe sewn to the bra and belt
Triangle fringe sewn to the bra and belt

More rare but also available is pre beaded swagged fringe. Falling down in loops, these swags can be sewn to any costume in no time. The fringe is made of seed beads, which is a term used for all types and shapes of smaller sized beads. The beads can be rounded or tubular shaped. The beads used for Egyptian pre beaded fringe are usually glass beads lined with a reflective layer to increase the shiny effect of the fringe.

What fringe is best suited for a bellydance costume?

Different types of beaded fringe are available online. Personally, I stay away from the decorative beaded fringe that is sold in sewing shops. This type is meant to be decorative and won’t stand up to heavy use. I also stay away from plastic beaded fringe. Plastic beaded fringe is cheap and the luster will soon disappear from the beads. It is ofcourse totally up to you what type of beaded fringe you’d like to use in your costume and these types can certainly create stunning effects.

I prefer using Egyptian pre beaded fringe, as the quality is superb. Handpicking beaded fringe in Mahmoud’s store in Cairo is one of my favorite parts of a trip to Egypt. Since I can’t afford to go to Egypt twice a year, I resort to buying fringe from online stores and eBay. The subject of buying beaded fringe online deserves a post all by itself, so I’ll post more about it later.

How to recognize good quality beaded fringe

Buying online is always tricky, it is easier to determine quality when you can see the fringe up close and personal. However, with detailed pictures I can make a pretty close guess on how long the fringe will last. These are the things to look for:

– Beads. Check if the beads are straight cut on the edges. Sharp edged beads will slowly saw through the thread, causing the fringe to break. The beads should have straight edges, and there should be little to no broken beads in the fringe.

Difference between two strands of beaded fringe
Difference between two strands of beaded fringe

– Thread. The thread is heavy cotton thread, securely knotted on the bottom and the top. Do not trust fringe made with regular sewing thread and don’t make your own fringe with regular sewing thread.

– Knots. The knots are important, as they keep the fringe tied to the cord on one side, and it ties of the fringe on the other side. The knots should be tied, double knots. To make the fringe longer lasting, use cear nail polish to seal the knots by dabbing a bit on each and every one.

– Material. There is a use for every type of fringe, but glass fringe works best for the low light environment . The durability of glass is also much longer, which is why I prefer using fringe made from glass beads instead of plastic.

– Amount of fringes per inch / cm. Good quality beaded fringe has fringes that are set closely together, thus creating a curtain of fringe. An easy way to reduce the labor on beaded fringe is by creating bigger gaps between the individual fringes. This changes the look and feel of the costume completely: sparse fringe makes a costume look unfinished unless it is a well thought out design element.

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

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!