I didn’t make it as big as the 70 squares I was intending to but I think it turned out well. I could probably add a border around sometime later but I’m happy with it being a foot blanket for the time being.
My last post covered applying the trims to the bra. In this post I’ll take you through how I put together the belt.
We’ve already made the pattern for the belt and cut out the fabric ready. A sturdy base for the belt was made using interfacing, and the outer fabric was then stitched to it, this ensured that the belt doesn’t twist and sag under the weight of the kuchi coins.
I worked layer by layer using the same techniques as for the bra trims after which I began work on the metal coins and gathered silk flowers.
The last thing to apply before the lining was the velvet scoops around the hips. The pattern was made by draping the fabric and pinning in pleats to create the scoop. This was a process of trial and error until I had a shape I was happy with. Then the fabric was carefully unpinned marking all pleats and curves onto pattern paper.
I cut and lined each scoop stitching curved lines across each section to ensure it didn’t stretch too much. The pleats were added to the belt. At the front the belt needed a way of closing it securely to the body. It was decided that ‘D’ rings and ribbon were the best option for this as it allowed for a give in size as apposed to hook and eyes which are fixed.
The rings are positioned under the gathered flowers and are only just visible. The lining is cut using the same pattern as for the belt and stitched to the back. The belt and bra are now all finished.
No matter how well sequins are stitched on they do have a tendency of falling off or working loose, I usually tie off the thread every three to four sequins to reduce the risk of this. This will also keep any repairs that are needed in the future to a minimum.
Most importantly when stitching sequins and especially the heavy coins and metal work use a good quality strong thread (I use gutterman or moon threads). To strengthen the thread again with out adding more strands run the thread across a block of beeswax this will help stop the thread from knotting and reduce friction so trims don’t wear though so easily.
While stitching the overlapping sequins I found they moved around a lot making it look messy, so I thought it was best to stitch an additional line invisible thread over the top of the sequins making them much more secure- invisible thread being transparent looks much nicer for this type of top stitching, as you can’t see it. Transparent thread does tend to knot easily while stitching an become loose while stitching as it has a certain amount of stretch. My only advice would be to use it in short sections and persevere, because the finished look will be worth it.
In the center of the bra there needed to be a hanging heart and chain loops.The heart just needed to be stitched securely, and the chains after deciding how long to drape them it is helpful to measure each point they are going to be attached to and how much chain will be in each loop.
The last trims to apply were the Kuchi triangles and gathered flowers. The triangles needed to again be pinned in place and adjusted until they were even, I stitched these down securely but left the chains at the bottom to hang freely.
Although these steps are the most rewarding, as you can finally see the costume coming together, they are the most time consuming. I have now finished all the bra trims and will in the next few posts take you though a few of belt trims as many are the same as the bra before we finish with the linings and finishing touches.
The bra and belt have a base cover and are strengthened ready for the trims and metal work. Adornments can really make a tribal belly dance costume stand out from the crowd. Here’s how I went about applying them for Lyza’s costume.
The side ties for the bra need to be added before any trims. In my pattern drafting post I described the necessity for strong stitching on the side ties as they will be taking most of the weight of the bra, you’ll want to get these out of the way before adding any of the trims.
Once you’ve cut out the straps, they can be lined – leaving an opening where they are to be attached to the bra. First the strap needs to be pinned in place and checked it is at the correct angle. Next stitch the strap to the bra, as this needs to be a strong join it is best to stitch it to the underwire casing of the bra. The casing is made of a strong woven fabric and shouldn’t rip or stretch over time. I usually use two strands of thread when stitching and stitch backwards and forwards a few times.
Taking some time to think about how the layers of trim will build up will help to ensure that nothing is missed out, overlap in the correct order. One of the worst things is attempting to slot something in or worst of all undoing work that has taken hours to complete!
For my trim layers I started with adding rivets to the bottom edge of the bra. These were a new adornment to me and took some time to get used to. They looked simple enough but ended up being a little more fiddly than I anticipated. They tend to pull and distort the fabric if you aren’t careful. In the end this was remedied with delicate placement of the rivet pins, so that the fabric is stretched sightly into the four pins before they are bent inwards.
The velvet trim edging the bra needed to be stitched in place next. Starting from the outside I pinned the velvet around the neckline ensuring it didn’t pull. At this stage it is important to do a lot of pinning to ensure the shape is correct as layer will be one of the most visible when the costume is complete.
To create the shaping around the neck I first turned under and pinned the velvet starting with the center front continuing all the way round and then secured it with small invisible slip stitches. The last step with the velvet was to fold the fabric up and over the edge of the bra and stitch it to the inside with a quick tacking stitch, there will be many other layers of stitching on top of this, so it wasn’t necessary to spend a great deal of time securing this part.
Next the heavy antique gold trim needed to be applied, again pinning was key to making sure that everything was smoothly attached.
After this was completed I could see the design starting to come through, and next to come was one of my favorite bits – sequins!