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.

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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.

How to cover straps with no visible seam

I am still working on the minty fresh costume, albeit slowely. I recently covered the shoulder straps for the bra. As I don’t want to add beading to the bra straps, I wanted no visible stitches on the outside of the straps. Usually I cover straps by wrapping them in the desired fabric, then stitching along the sides of the strap.

This time I used lycra, which made it easier. I first created a tube that fits perfectly around the original bra strap. Turn the tube inside out by using a big safetypin, push the pin through the center to flip it inside out.

IMG_2046[1]I then used the safetypin to pull the white strap through the blue casing. It took a bit of wiggling aorund to get this right but it worked.

IMG_2048[1]I then smoothed the outer casing until the seam was neatly on the inside of the strap and there were no more wrinkles. I then used a straight stitch to keep the casing in place: one time straight acros the bottom (with a piece of white still visible). On the top, I folded the top edge of the casing over the edge and stitched it in place. Left is an exmaple of the bottom that will be attached to the bra and hidden by the lining of the bra. On the right is the example of what the top of the strap looks like.

IMG_2050[1]

Haven’t had tme to actually attach these to the bra, but I will get there soon! A bit of a bummer was that I cut up one of my skirt pieces by accident to make the casing for the straps and I now have to rethink my skirt design. More about that later.