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!

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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.

Muwashahat girls: a quick update

The dress rehearsal on Thursday as great, it’s looking great! Here are two pictures taken earlier this week. Keep in mind that the jackets have flowing half-circle sleeves and we are holding chiffon handkerchiefs in the finished version. This is Roos, showing her jacket and the pants + skirt:

And this is Shaia, trying to find eough fabric to make the last pairs of chiffon sleeves. This is what my livingroom looked like on Wednesday, I’m grateful to the person who invented the vacuum cleaner.

Costuming marathon: Muwashahat

A couple of my friends and I took a workshop Muwashahat with Farida Fahmy last year. Roos Belinfante is having her annual student show on May 15th and we wanted to do a new group choreography, since practicing for the RonDom Buikdans show worked really well

In the past five weeks, we’ve made the choregraphy and learned the steps. We still need to refine and adjust stff to ge better synchronisation, but it is looking good! Second project was our costumes: this is the first time that we are making matching troupe costumes. 6 people, different body shapes and various color preferences. We took a long, hard look at the video material from Farida Fhamy and decided that we wanted jackets, chiffon skirts/sleeves/handkerchiefs and matching pants. Here is a snapshot of Farida:

April 23th: Roos, Hadyr and I met up at the fabric market in Utrecht. After searching for two hours, we choose our fabric:

1. chiffon in blue/turquoise print with roses
2.matching satin in the same print
3.Dark blue nicky velours for the jackets
Here are some snapshots of the fabric:

Satin:
May 1th: First sewing marathon
Hadyr and Isandria come over to my place (we solemnly decided to make my house Costume Head Quarters). We work for five hours andmake the pattern for the pants, pattern for the skirt and we pin/cut/sew two pairs of pants and three skirts. I’m appointed team manager, delegatingand coordinatng cosutming taksks between the sewing team (me and Isandria) and the pining/cutting team (Hadyr/Isandria)
May 4th: second sewing marathon
Roos and her daughter come over. We cut the remaining fabric, add waistbands to the skirts and make two pairs of pants and manage to cut all of the skirts. This took another five hours. We learn that we don’t have enough fabric to make the last two pairs of pants, and Ros and I decide to go to the fabric market that Saturday for the remaining satin + extra fabric for the jackets. The jacket are made by Kandila, a friend of Roos. We are all very happy that she agreed to do this for us: we are of course paying her fher work.
May 7th: second visit to the fabric market
The man who sold us the fabric tells us that he is all sold out. Argh! We find another fabric in similar colors but a different pattern for the pants but are bummed that we couldn’t get the original fabric. Buying the additional fabric for the jackets is easy.
May 11th: Third sewing marathon
It’s busy at Costuming HQ: Shaia, Roos and Gunesh arrive around 11.00. Gunesh brought her sewing machine, as we will need to do a lot of hemming today. We hem and finish our own pants/skirts and we all mark our own skirts/pants by sewing a scrap of fabric to the inside. Roos a leftover from the pink lycra costume from 2010, Gunesh a scrap from the green velvet costume 2011, and Shaia a piece of fabric from the pink/wite polkadot dress from 2009. We manage to cut six sets of sleeves from chiffon scraps. This sewing marathon lasts seven hours.
What we need to do to finish the costumes before our performance on May 15th:
Thursday 12th: dress rehearsal, we all have our jackets by then. Everyone will receive a pair of chiffon sleeves, to be added at home
Saturday14th: go to fabric market and buy matching chiffon for the handkerchiefs. Cut out 12 handkerchiefs
unday 15th, 12.00: arrive in Bussum or the show, on time for the run-trough of the show. Hadyr ad I will perform our Turkish duet, and the troupe will perform the Muwashahat.
Will we finish our costumes in time? Will the man at the fabric market have matching chiffon or do we have to make do without? And how about the jackets, will they be ready tomorrow? Stay tuned for the next episode of Costuming marathon: Muwashahat!

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)

Red beledi dress

Just finished the red beledi dress I was working on. Very fast project, you might recognize the belt and bra set as the cheap egyptian costume that I got from ebay.de

Jeoffrey took the pictures and he really thinks that cane dancing looks silly. So he only took three pictures while giggling about me dancing with a cane.


The dress is made of red velours de panne with sparkles printed/glued on them. I believe L.Rose carries the same fabric as ‘sparkle velvet’ or something like that. Dress is bases on a basic princess seam pattern (Burda) adjusted with keyhole neckline and halfcircle sleeves falling open from the elbow.

One down, some more to go. I’m getting on the ghawazee coat project now, hope that it’s finished by tomorrow afternoon. After that, all I need to do is jazz-up the black velvet pants/strapless bra construction that I made, and I’m done. Yay!

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.

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.