Minty fresh costume part 2: the skirt

Costume sketch for blue/green costume

A couple of months ago I started working on a blue/green costume. I covered a Dina bra base, rope beaded the edges and covered the strap. Then life happened: I was the producer/teacher/stage manager/sound engineer for the ‘Arabian Nights’ shows in December, that certainly was a lot of fun. During Christmas I had a personal matter that asked for all of my attention and after New Year I needed to work on promotimg and teaching my weekly classes.

All very valid reasons why I didn’t continue working on the minty fresh costume. What also didn’t help is that I cut into one of the backpanels of the skirt by accident and I don’t have more of the blue fabric. The skirt design needed to be completely redone to make up for that mistake.

Below is the drawing of my original design plu

Costume sketch for blue/green costume
Costume sketch for the minty fresh costume. A close up of the bra is in the upper left corner

s the updated design. As you can see, there’s a bit of an hourglass line going on in the skirt that should work wonders.

I find it hard to continue and finish costume projects that are put on hold for some time. A good example is the green velvet costume that I started in 2007 and finished in 2011. An even better example is my to-do box that contains costumes that I will probably never finish. But! Finishing a project is very important for my state of mind. Unfinished projects are like skelletons in my closet, they are in the back of my head taking up space that I rather use for new projects.

with that in mind, I cut the new patter pieces and made the matching skirt. Sure, it isn’t a complete costume yet, but all it needs is some chunky beading and a bit of fringe to take it to the next level. And with that in mind, I am putting it back into the to-do box.

I dare you to post about one of your unfinnished products on your blog or facebook. Tag me and we can act as an ‘unfinished project support team’ for each other.

 

Minty fresh costume part 1: the bra

I posted a couple of pictures on buz and facebook but I felt nostalgic and want to write more about the proces on LJ. Hi, my name is Kyria and I’m a costuming addict. It’s been almost a year since my last costuming project. And the last projects didn’t count, as they were small repairs like lining a coin bra and fixing a beaded applique. I made a red satin dress for a bellydance-burlesque performance  in december 2013 but that wasn’t really bellydance.

Time for a new costume! I did a fabric swap with Bea a while back. She sent me the remnants of turquoize lycra that she used for beledi dresses. I sent her red lycra I think, can’t remember exactly. Bea included the leftover beads and I neatly put all of this away in my fabric stash. That must have been two years ago. about a year ago I bought two Dina style bra bases through facebook (can’t remember the seller) and once again, put it neatly in my stash. Now that I am rekindling my activity in the dance community I want to wear something new and I am starting with this.

First time working with this type of bra base. Observations: it holds it shape very well yet is easy to penetrate with a needle (something I worried about). I give it a thumbs up and intend to buy more bra bases. I took the bra straps off to cover the base. The straps are very basic. I’ll keep the neck straps but I’m not sure about the ribcage straps. They are made of covered elastic and after two years, they are probably losing elasticity. It would be a shame if the straps would not give sufficient support once I am finished.

The second epiphany was that Bea sent me large seed beads with large holes. This is awesome. I’ve worked with Gutermann seed beads before and even the larger beads have TINY holes, causing needles to get stuck and such. Big seed beads means that rope beading the edge takes less time, one more reason to break out a bottle of red wine and celebrate. The contrast fabric is printed lycra from my local fabric market. I got a lot of this with the idea that it could be used for troupe costuming which I totally should not do. For my december production, I bought 60 meters of a lighter turquoize chiffon with a subtle paillette and a lurex thread in the fabric. It is gorgeous and doesn’t match the lycra. Go figure.

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!

Green velvet costume part 4: finished the bra and redoing the skirt


It’s been a while since I’ve updated on the green velvet costume, but I assure you that there have been tons of things going on. I finished the bra about one or two eweks ago and posted a close-up on bhuz, but I didn’t post it here because I wanted to give you a full update.

Here’s a rather blurry picture of the bra:

I beaded the skirt with sequins and bugle beads in January, but I needed to redo all the beading. So….. here’s a before picture:

Creating the new pattern with the rhinestone chain:

And filling the design out by edging all the curls in gold seedbeads:


Every curl takes about 30-50 minutes to complete.

More on the back of the skirt tomorrow.

Green velvet costume part 2: the bra

I’ve blogged about the green velvet costume and how it started out with a skirt in 2006. I beaded the skirt in January 2011 and let it rest, as I needed to finish the pink/gold Bella like costume before the start of April. In the back of my head, the green costume was still haunting my dreams. I was halfway already: so close to actually finishing the costume! I prepared a bra base last week and started working on the bra in the past couple of days. The good news: it looks amazing. The bad news: it looks amazing because I used a different beading technique, and I need to redo the skirt.

I started out by cutting all straps off a basic 75C bra. I’m a hoarder and I have a couple of those lying around. I solemnly vowed to clear up clutter this year and finishing belly dance projects with whatever I have lying around is high on my priority list. Since the bra base is pretty similar to all the other bra bases, I skipped taking pictures of the whole covering the bra in velvet’process. The only thing I might add is that I’m using a lycra fabric, and I managed to cover the cup without using folds or darts, by shaping the fabric smoothly over the cup. I found some gold seed beads and decided to bead the whole edge of the bra with those

I then set out the swirly decorations by using a billion pins:

This might look a bit confusing, so I took a picture when I finished adding a rhinestone curl before taking the pins out:

And once I did all the curls, I removed all the pins and it looked something like this:

You might have noticed, the beading on the skirt was made with bugle beads and sequins. I tried adding sequins to the swirls, but it didn’t work out. I decided to add gold seed beads to the swirls too. This is a technique often used by the late madame Abla, or Noussa, both costume designers in Cairo. I had another type of gold seed beads in my stash to add: they are slightly larger and darker then the seed beads on the edge.To show the difference, this is a picture of the whole bra. Left side is done with seed beads, right side isn’t:A picture of the cups to show more detail:
And the ultimate close-up picture:

The rhinestone chain was left over from the Bella project. I need more gold beads as I finished my stash: they are Güttermann beads, high quality and expensive, but worth it. My plan is to finish the bra this week, then let it rest so I can build courage to tackle the skirt.

Green velvet costume part I: The beginning

I recently have time to work on personal projects, and one of those projects is costuming. One of the other projects is trying to reduce the amount of clutter in the house, so instead of starting on a new costume project, I decided to dig deep into the fabric vault and finally get some unfinished stuff done.

For the green velvet costume, we have to go back in time to about 10 years ago. Look through the window of my tiny student room and you’ll see me, practicing with the only bellydance dvd I could find at the time: Veena & Neena’s. In the performance and on the front of the dvd, the twins proudly stood there, wearing a velvet bra and belt set decorated with gold beading. I later learned that the costumes were made by the Cairo designer Madame Abla. It was similar to these costumes:

That image burned itself into my brain: this was what pro dancers looked like!

Another jump in time, now to the year 2006. That was the year I decided I wanted to be a professional dancer. I was still living in a student room, albeit a slightly larger one then the one before. I made a couple of costumes before, but wanted to try something new. The image of the velvet bedlah (Egyptian Arabic term for a bra and belt set) was still haunting me in the back of my head. At the local fabric market I found green stretch velvet, the perfect base for my costume. On a local hafla I’d seen my teacher wear a lycra costume and some online searching helped me find more images of costumes without a belt, but with a beaded skirt instead. Remember that Dutch dancers at te time were not wearing the newest costumes from Cairo. To be honest, very few are wearing the latest fashion now, though the numbers are growing. I had never seen a lycra costume up close, or how the beading was done from the inside. Embarking on the quest to making a costume from stretch velvet was a real challenge!

In the summer of 2006, I made a mermaid skirt from the fabric and marked the beading pattern with white thread. I made the waist sightly assymetrical, but ran into trouble when I wanted to add the zipper and/or elastic to the top. Should I made a casing? It was not the best option for an assymetrical waistline. Should I sew elastic onto the velvet? But I didn’t know how. The skirt ended up in my unfinished projects pile and I moved on to other endeavors. While I soon afterwards mastered sewing elastic into lycra skirts, I also discovered the joy of online purchases and lurking on the Bhuz swapmeet. In the meantime, the skirt was sitting there, alone but not forgotten.

Back to 2011, a new year and a fresh start. In the past five years I’ve become a professional dancer (yay!), finished a Master’s degree and worked full-time in a completely unrelated day job. It’s time to get the old ghosts out of the closet. I started digging in my unfinished business and found this skirt. I have a strong emotional attachment to this project, because it reminds me of who I was not so long ago. Throwing away was not an option, I had to finish it.

Honestly, I don’t know how often I will wear this costume once it’s finished. And truthfully, my taste in costumes has changed since then, so this costume is not typically me either. I’d classify this costume as an intermediate costume, not a pro costume, looking at today’s market. Despite all that, it’s still a fun project to work on and one I want to finish.

In the first week of january, I finished the skirt an started the beading on the back. In the second week I did the front beading and added clusters of fringe. The skirt before (but finally with zipper and elastic):

With beading, but no fringe yet. The back:

And an action shot to show the shape of the skirt when moving:

I’m happy that I’ve finished the skirt. Next I’ll focus on making the bra and gloves.

Episodes of series watched during beading: Legend of the Seeker, X-men: Evolution
And in addition: 2 hours of learning Egyptian Arabic (Pimsleurs set)

Tropical costume update

I got home aroun 23.30 on Saturday and decided it was the perfect time to start working on the tropical costume. I sat down with tea, decent light and a movie (Casino was on) and started working. I added the beaded strands to the skirt/bra, have to tack them into place. This is a safety pin fix so I can easily change the strands if I want to. Then added sew on acrylic jewels and hotfix stones.

I know it was time to stop working when at 3 a.m. I give to you: the tropical costume plus more bling.

Green velvet skirt – beading pattern

Remember the green velvet skirt that I was working on several weeks ago? I finally uploaded the pictures of what the beading is going to look like. Not completely symmetrical (yet) but for a general impression:

back of skirt

Today I’m sewing a lot of tops, pants and skirts from crushed velvet and other scraps that I have lying around. The new teaching job demands pants instead of skirts so my students can watch my footwork. I never knew I did so much floorpatterns and feetwork, but it’s neccesary to keep people moving around. Must be all the jazz-ballet training I did between age 9 and 16 that makes a grapevine seem like a logic set of steps.

The new Neckelmans bra

Pictures of the altered neckelmanns bra

detail of the beading. I replaced the flesh tone bra with a sturdy underwire bra and covered it in matching green fabric. The sidestraps were stretchy, so I replaced them with sturdy fabric, covered them in the same fashion as the original straps.Because of the constructionwork with wire and boning, this bra COULD be worn strapless. I’ll safe that challenge for another day, I’ve added the shoulder straps by now 🙂