Tag Archives: design

Zia Bastion Costume Part 1

Zia Bastion
For the Summer Sapphire Bellydance Charity show coming up in the new few weeks I have decided on my song and in the process of working out a choreography. This is my new costume which will go with it.

The track is an mix of Build that Wall and Terminal March from the soundtrack of Bastion by Darren Korb. To go with this I’ve chosen to make a belly dance costume based on the character of Zia.

Zia Bastion Costume Design

Purple Batik Costume Week 3 Part 2

Gold Bugle Beads
The belt base is now finished but needs a little more glitz so that when on stage the light will reflect and give little sparkles here and there.

I decided a nice way of doing this would be to outline a few of the paisleys with twisted bugle beads.

Below is the layout of the paisleys I decided to outline, I didn’t want to do too many as I thought it would detract from the already lovely fabric.
Belt Beading

Tribal Fusion Costume Week 7 – Finished

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Here is the costume which I have been taking you through over the last few posts.

This is after a performance at the Llanfairfechan Summer Sapphire Hafla. Click here to see Lyza Chthonia dancing in her tribal fusion costume.

Tribal Fusion Costume Week 4 – Applying Fabric to Belt and Bra

Lyza Costume

Last week we covered the production of a pattern for both the bra and belt. This week that pattern will be used for covering the bra and producing the belt.

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The main fabric I have decide to use has quite a loose lightweight weave so I have found it necessary to interface it with light interfacing, which will give it some extra strength.

After cutting the pattern out of the fabric the first step is to stitch both fronts together and stitch the darts in place. This is one of the few stages that can be completed using the sewing machine.

Now to attach the fabric to the bra, start by pinning the center-front working all the way around the cup. Finish by neatly folding the seam allowance inside and stitching in place.

Bra & Belt Pattern Pieces Bra Pieces

The belt will need extra stiffening as it is going to have a lot of coins and heavy chains attached to it – to do this a layer of interfaced scrap fabric is used on top of the existing fabric. The scrap fabric will also give a weave to securely tie off any adornments. To encase all the edges inside, I stitched these two layers together leaving a gap at each end and turned through.

This leaves us with a fabric covered bra and a belt base to start applying adornments.

Tribal Fusion Costume Week 3 – Developing the Belt Pattern – Part 3

Following the last post covering the development of a bra base pattern, I’ll now discuss pattern drafting for the belt.

The best and most reliable way to make a pattern for a belt is to cut a strip of paper the width of the finished belt and long enough to go all the way around the dancer, overlapping a little. This is then taped around the dancer’s hips, it will stick out slightly in places (which we will correct in a minute).

Belly dance belts are usually worn just above the hips which is where most of the curving occurs. This means that for a belt to fit snuggly it needs to contour to the individual’s shape.

Belt Pattern

To make the belt lie flat against the body, darts and slits need to be added at points on the paper, usually you’ll need to add them to:

  • Center back
  • Back sides (between center back and side)
  • Sides
  • Side fronts (between center front and side)
Some body types may need more, some less.
Belt Pattern
At these points, cut slits at the top with scissors, taping them open so that the shape is not lost, and pinch the bottom edge, pinning as you go.

When complete cut the paper pattern off the body at center front.

This pattern can then be transfered to a new sheet, marking the size and position of the darts on the new sheet, smooth out any harsh curves and add a 1.5cm seam allowance all the way around. For this belt, I removed 3cm from either end so that the lacing would be more visible. The belt should now be curved to fit the figure of the dancer.

Tribal Fusion Costume Week 3 – Developing the Bra Pattern – Part 2

Last week we covered the importance of stabilising the bra and how to go about it.
This week I began developing the pattern for the halter top that would be attached over the top of the bra. This is a great way of adding base pattern before adding trims and embellishments which can really add to the finished look.

To begin pattern drafting you will need some scrap fabric – begin by pinning this to the bra in the same way as the interfacing layer starting in the center and working your way around each upper edge of the bra and darting where necessary. As I was creating a halter style bra I found the next step much easier to complete with a mannequin, but using the client would be just as beneficial if not more so. It is important that the halter straps lie at the correct angle to fit comfortably around the neck.

Once the scrap fabric is pinned flatly to the bra you need to begin marking out the shape of the halter as there are many different angles and curves that could be used. With the halter section it was necessary to shape the beginning of the straps so that they would taper down from the neck strap in one smooth curve. After you have decided on the shape the fabric can be cut along these lines and around the cup shape giving you a feel for the final design.

Next it is time to consider the back straps. There are a few ways of approaching these but for this design we have chosen to go with straps that tie at the centre back. This style is easily put together and allows the costume to fit regardless of weight fluctuations. From the edge of the cup the strap can be either straight or shaped depending on the style you want.

Template

Make sure not to make the back straps too thin especially if the costume is going to be weighty as much of the weight will be carried by these as opposed to those around the neck.

This completes the drafting of the pattern, so all that is left to do now is to remove the fabric from the bra marking all the darts so that they can be easily transferred to the paper pattern for cutting.

Pattern

Lay out the scrap fabric template on to the paper and pin it in place to stop it moving around. Transfer all the darts and trace the outer shape on to the pattern paper, this will give you a nice easy to understand pattern to work from. Once all this is done you will need to add seam allowance all the way around both the main bra and back strap pattern.

Side Strap

It is important that the back straps are separate from the main body of the bra as they will take a lot of weight in some cases and therefore will need a lot of securing. The best way of doing that is to stitch it on to the casing that holds the underwire. These are designed to take the force of the back straps supporting the bust, but I’ll cover this more thoroughly next week.

If you have any questions about bra pattern drafting get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Tribal Fusion Costume Week 2 – Final Design

Lat week I covered the initial draft process – I came up with three designs that met Lyza’s criteria and gave a brief summary of them. This week I will be discussing how we came to the final design and where we go from here.

We arranged a meeting in a lovely cafe in Aberystwyth where I took along my designs, some fabric, and metal embellishment samples. We discussed her favourite elements of each design, the fabrics she liked and any other comments.

At this point make sure that your client knows that they are free to be harsh with their comments about the designs. This can teach you just as much about the design they want.

It turned out that we both liked design 2 the best but there was a few elements from the other designs that we mixed in to it to create the final design. In particular she loved the base fabrics, trims and chains from design 3.

The base fabric from the third design combined with the red velvet really jazzed up the bra and the tarnished sequins from the same design turned out to work really well lining the inner edge of the halter straps. Two changes that really made the design feel a lot more coherent.

To accentuate certain movements such as shimmies and flutters the chain configuration was just copied over from the third design. Chains are a great way to add movement to a costume – they are also great for a little bit of extra jingling.

It’s sometimes tempting to keep adding embellishments to a design, sure it’s nice to have a shiny full costume, but always try to keep a good balance between weight, cost and considered design. Too many bits can spoil the broth… or the costume.

Final Design Detail Final Design

The design really came in to its own this week – I feel like I have a clear grasp of where the costume is going and how it meets Lyza’s needs.

Next week I will be starting the costume! First step is to create patterns, buy materials and stabilize the bra.

If you have any questions about Week 2 get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Tribal Fusion Costume Week 1 – Initial Designs

I’ve been a big fan of belly dance, particularly tribal-style since I was young – it’s inspired a lot of my costume creations including a few full belly dance costumes for myself, so I was really excited to be asked to create a bespoke costume for the dancer Lyza of Chthonia Bellydance.

I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to document the whole process from idea to creation here on my blog, sharing my process and hopefully some helpful hints and tips for making your own costumes. I’m hoping this will be a weekly thing as I work on the costume – this week I’ll start with the planning and design.

It’s really important that the costume you are creating is what the customer wants. Having a meeting with them is usually the best way to find out what they’re hoping to get out of it – whether they have any design preferences, a style of dance which the costume needs to work with, and most importantly, their personality and character as a dancer so the final design is something that represents and is unique to them - this is a custom costume after all.

One of the first things I did when designing the costume was to come up with a few initial drafts based on my chats with Lyza and from my impressions of her style. Her main criteria was to have something with an earthy look including reds, browns, and golds so my initial designs were largely based around these colours.

Its always a good idea to make sure that there is a good variety in your designs. Forcing yourself to think outside of that one image you have in your head will open up possibilities that you may not have thought about. you might even find that the client ends up liking this different direction too. There is also no harm in mixing and matching elements from each design so the more variety you have in the designs, the more options you and the client will have to decide from.

Design 1 

This design had a very flamenco styling to it – drawing from the frilly saloon girl designs used a few years ago by the Belly Dance Superstars tribal group. Layering harem pants over skirts gives a full look and an immense amount of movement during dancing.

Design

Design 2 

By far my favourite design of the three. This uses the halter neck straps that are similar to other tribal fusion costumes and includes Kuchi Brasstone coins as opposed to the tarnished silver ones which seem to more widely available. I find these give a lovely rich feeling to the costume and are a great way to fulfill the need for gold.

Design

Design 3

I love the loose ruffled lacy fabric over the shoulder straps on this one, when you are creating a decorated bra, you don’t want it too look like a boring bra that came from a high street store, this is a great way to do that.

The hanging layered yarn threads and hip scarves create a more cutesy design than I was hoping for this costume.

Design

The next step of the process is to work with Lyza on a final design that she is happy with. I’ll cove more about that in next weeks blog.

If you have any questions or comments on week 1 I’d love to hear them.