Beaded Silk Belly Dance costume

It has been a busy old month!  A horrible dental surgery experiance; snow; a wonderful Majma Dance festival experience; a week’s holiday, then home and MORE snow!  In between all this I have been working on creating a dance costume to wear for our troupe performances this season.  The brief was ‘harem pants, any top, in flame colours’.

My first attempt at making a costume last year turned out… hmmm, wearable…  This year I wanted something much more professional looking and far more glamorous!  Having mended the silk harem pants I knew how great they look and feel to dance in, so it had to be silk!  Now as regular readers are aware, my average budget for any creative project seldom hits double figures (although this time it did!) and I do love to re-purpose fabric, so where better place to start than eBay and a pre-loved saree?  All the way from India wrapped in muslin for £7.99 including postage!  Fab.  The saree was stiff as a board and needed two soakings in cold water to get the starch out, but at least I didn’t have to resort to the Vinegar Treatment, which leaves everything smelling like a chip shop. Th pants began with Simplicity costume pattern 5359, given to me by a friend.  I’ve made three cholis using this pattern and not one of them has fitted me properly.  Luckily there’s not much to go wrong with harem pants!  Ignoring the pattern instructions I cut the legs so that the saree border made a ‘cuff’ around the ankle, then cut the other border off to make an elaticated waistband.  (Elastic from Rose Tinted Rags for £1).

No cholis this time.  I wanted a proper belly dance bra!  There are so many excellent blogs and tutorials out there on how to make your own out of a regular bra, but I found Sparkly Belly’s How-To series  and Naima’s Bellydance blog  the most helpful.  I dived in and cut up a cheapie bra that I never wear to make a ‘prototype’ with some left-over stretch velvet (from this dress; no, I never throw anything away!).  This turned out so well that I’m actually going to use it as part of another costume!Now, everyone says that you should a) buy a padded bra so that it will be sturdy enough to take the weight of all the embellishments, and b) go up an extra cup size because they will shrink once you’ve sewn all that bling on.  People, I have NEVER had a padded bra in my life!  Much less one that’s too big for me!  Blimey…. Back to eBay again and I managed to find a red one that ticked all the boxes for £5.75.

Covering it with the silk was actually fairly easy, and my new non-stretchy straps were made using layers of quilting cotton and interfacing, with some grossgrain ribbon sewn in to re-enforce them (all from my stash).  Also taking a tip from various costume tutorials, I bought some extra-durable trouser hooks & eyes for my back closure and the halter strap (£1.50).

I kept trying it on and making adjustments, but it wasn’t until I saw a friend’s self-made costume last week, with wide halter-straps, that I figured that part out and finally got it fitting properly.  Then came the fun part.  Beads!  Sequins!  Crystals!  Beads AND sequins together!  I have been in my absolute element embellishing this costume and I only stopped where I did ‘cos I needed to wear it for ‘dress rehearsal’ last night!  This is where I spent the most money, and OK I do have a lot left over of course but I reckon I’ve used £7 – £8’s worth of materials here.

But hey, enough words, right? –  Here it is!Oh I am SO very pleased with this!  And best of all, I have now done a full 90 mins dancing in it with no ‘Barbara Windsor’ moments!  It does feel quite large but I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do all that beading on a non-padded number.  I’m not sure about ‘cup shrinkage’ though; this didn’t appear to be an issue, perhaps because I mainly stitched into the padding rather than right through the bra – as you can see from this ‘insides’ pic there’s very little stitching showing (yes I will need to line it at some point!).  I ended up having to put some tucks in the cups to get the fit right, luckily with this fabric it doesn’t notice to much.  I think next time I’ll stick to my usual size.All in all I’m rather thrilled to have such a fine looking costume that fits and feels good to dance in.  A professional costume costs £100s after all, so at under £25 this one’s a winner, plus I’ve got enough silk left over to make myself a headband and some accessories.  Result!

Me on the left with the Monday night gang.  Don’t we look FAB?!Wishing you all a shimmying sparkling week 🙂

Felt Flower Frenzy!

It all began when I decided I wanted a tribal-belly-dance-style headdress to wear to the Barefoot Dance… on the day of the Barefoot dance!  So of course being me, I made one for myself with what I had to hand, which was some bits of felt, funky buttons and beads and some leftover ‘dreadlocky’ felting yarn!  All this got stitched and tied together with thread and attached to a (now re-purposed) alice band.  Whoo-Hoo: tribal headdress, funky felt style!And THEN, me and my Phoenix Crafts pal Cy went on a needle felting workshop with the brilliant Emma from Ffolky Felt, and we were hooked! (Or should that be ‘barbed’??). So I’d had this idea to make a mermaid headdress for my dance pal M., and this was my first go at a flower for it, made at the workshopHow cool is that?? – BUT, a bit on the big side and a tad heavy for the alice band.  So I came up with this insteadand THEN, I bought a hot glue gun, and life has never been the same!  Here’s the finished Mermaid HeaddressI’ve been on a roll ever since!  I made one for another friend who asked for lime green and turquoise.  I had some beautiful wool felt I got at last year’s Quilt Festival in those EXACT colours, plus some sparkly turquoise beads found in a charity shop for 50pI absolutely LOVE making these!  They are so much fun to do and to wear!  I made myself a MoonFlower headdress next (modelled here by Cuddles the Tiger), to go with my Velvet Party fRock.  The flowers are a combination of shapes cut from home-made wet felt & wool felt sheets and needle felted pieces all worked together with the felting needles.  The band is covered with some scrap dress fabric, and I finally got to use the sequins I bought that never made it onto the actual dress! Another friend had a Significant Birthday a few weeks back, so I made her something to match her party outfit.  She liked the flowers but didn’t want an alice band, so out came the hot glue gun and some crocodile hair clips.  These are her flowers, again a wet felt/wool felt sheet/needle felting combinationThese are the finished clips, embellished with beads and dreadlocks.  Pleased to say they stayed in her hair all evening, despite some vigorous dance-floor action.  Groovy!

And since I was going to said S.B. party I thought I’d better make myself something too.  This is my first go at doing wet-felt spikes.  I like the way they look BUT: sooo fiddley.  I finished up adding some needle felted ones as well, much easier to make.

(and quite tricky to photograph in all their dreadlocky glory, too)I’m totally addicted to this felting malarky, I’ve been making all sorts of funky things lately.  More soon, but for now – Wishing you all a bright sunny weekend 🙂