Saturday, April 3, 2010

Making a Bedlah vii

Now I'm well on the way to making the belt.  It's quite a fiddly design with the silver ruching drape, so it's taken quite a bit of pinning and pressing to get it to this point.

The back of the belt is still 'under development'. I'm redesigning it a little, trying to get a deeper dip and raising the sides up a bit higher, so that at the front I can create more of a dip. Initially I'd thought I'd only dip at the back and come around up higher in the front, but I liked the lines across the hips better this way.
This is before I started to pin the pleating down - I'd originally just stitched the pleats every 10 cm or so, but had to unpick several of them so I could drape the back.  I have pressed them, which in retrospect I don't think I should have.  So I'll have to wet them a little and steam them into ruching rather than pleating.

This shows you how I pinned the ruching so that it fits  - stretching it out for the dip, then bringing them in tight over the hip.  I've now stitched underneath and along each fold (so you can't see the stitching) to hold the ruching in place.  It's not usual to do this with ruching, but given that they're really more like soft pleats, it holds them in place better.
Detail of the pinning.  Don't do this unless you're feeling particularly picky!  If I was doing this again I'd probably revert to the old gathering stitching and forget about the pleating - but hey, what's a little time spent doing something you enjoy?!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Making a Bedlah vi

The bra is 90% finished now, so before I completely finish it I'm moving onto the skirt and belt.  The reason I'm not quite finishing the bra is that I may want to change something after I've designed the belt, so it's in my best interests to leave some unfinished ends.  But how I'd change it I do not know!

Anyway, the skirt is a straight skirt with a slightly dipped and flared back hem and slightly raised and definitely split front.  It's white velvet (a teeny bit see-thru much to Manly Jack's disgust!) so I'll need to wear skintone knickers underneath or maybe line it.  I haven't completed the stitching because I'm not entirely sure whether I'll attach the belt to it or have the belt separate. It's a bit more versatile to have a skirt that can be worn alone, but given that I'm putting silver on it, I doubt I'll wear it with much else.  I'm not really a silver girl - gimme gold!!

The belt is shaped, and is constructed fairly lightly because I'm not adding a lot of heavy beading to it.  You'll see the shape below, but what I've done is used a darker grey fabric and layered the sequinned mesh on top.  This is to match the bra, and yes, I'll be adding more silver drape to it!

This shot illustrates the bra front and the skirt and belt - my infamous duct tape dummy! Made with much hilarity by my ever-patient Manly Jack.  He did enjoy the process of layering duct tape and smoothing it across my torso...perhaps a little too much?

Anyway, although it's a bit larger than I am, it works really well when I'm designing 'in the round'.  It means I can adjust fit easily and accommodate my rather sway back and generous hips!

I'm really pleased with the bra, especially now that I've added the front sparkle drape to it.  The belt will have a similar amount of sparklies too, although I'm not yet sure how I'm going to do the drape.  I'd thought the front would be a little wider but when I actually draped it on, if it had been wider I would have looked shorter - and I need no help with that!

You can see the back of the skirt and belt here. 
To construct the belt, I simply draped the fabric around the dummy and pinned it.  Then I drew a line on the fabric to form the shape I wanted, then cut it.  I did pin the fabric to the skirt at side seams, centre back and where the split is slightly to the left in the front. 

Then I unpinned the belt fabric and folded it to make sure it was symmetrical (and by golly it was, I do not know how!), so I cut the first layer out, then a further one to act as the lining, and finally another out of the sequinned fabric to form the top.  Do not cut out sequinned fabric with your GOOD sewing shears - they will be blunted in an instant!  And you'll need to vacuum up all the bits after you've cut that fabric because each time you cut across a sequin the half that's been cut falls off, littering the floor with sparklies.

I then pinned and stitched the belt, leaving one end unstitched and a gap along the bottom big enough to pull the thing through.  In these pictures I haven't yet got around to ironing it, which is my next step - then it will be time to position the silver draping!  Don't hold your breath - it could be a wee while before the silver gets done, but eventually I'll post it on here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Making a Bedlah v

After a break of a bit longer than I intended, I've started back on this bedlah.
I've now attached the ruched front which will extend into a halter-style strap.  Actually it's not truly ruched, it's more pleated, and this was a bit unintentional - I did originally intend to ruch, but once I started to pleat it I really liked the effect, so it's here to stay. This is one of the joys of sewing - while I might start with an idea, it rarely ends up the way I first envisage! 

To recap, this is a long piece of fabric, attached at the top by turning under a small hem and blind stitching so the stitches don't show.  Then I pleated the fabric into several pleats by pinning it, then ran running stitches through the folded layers working from the back (underside) of the bra and making sure the stitches didn't show through on the front.  I made about four sets of stitching to anchor the pleats in place, making sure the whole piece draped around the shape of the bra.  If you just pin it on without following the curve it will look strange as you bring the gathered/pleated straps up into a halter style.


This photo shows the stitching at the bottom of the ruching.  I haven't completed the straps, so this is just held together with a pin.
A better shot of the under-cup part - if you look closely to the left of the shot, and then again in the middle, you can just spot the rows of stitching that hold the pleats in place.

Completed ruching - I ran about four rows quite close together in the middle, underneath the bling.  BTW the bling thing started life as a ring from one of those costume jewellery stores.  Manly Jack was kind enough to hacksaw the ring part off (and off two other pieces that will end up in a similar way!) so I then stitched it on.  To make it more secure I could put some fabric glue or gem glue on it, but it seems to be OK with two rounds of very tiny stitches looped around the diamante anchors.

I'm now going to add in some more beading and sequins along both the top and the bottom of the ruched area.  This will just define it a bit more and save me from doing too much to the sequinned fabric of the top half of the bra.  I'm not yet sure about adding any dangly bits to the bottom of the bra.  I originally wanted to, but now I'm not so sure.  It always looks great when you shimmy, but I'm just not sure what I want to do.  I have another couple of bling earrings I can hang in the centre which would look quite cool - so stay tuned and see what I end up doing!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Making a Bedlah iv

Well...being slightly adventurous, I decided to bead the neckline to give it more vavoom (if that's the word!) - definitely more sparkle. I knew it would take a while, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how quickly it has taken to get it done. That's what happens when TV is boring!
Only two shots of it so far, but more will get done today.

The beading is one sequin, one 4mm bead, and five seed beads, on a diagonal across the top of the neckline.  Spacing each one has taken a little trial and error, and I even started to mark in little dots as an aid, until I found I was able to judge it by eye.  It's not so much the distance from each other, more how far to go through on the other side.  You can see some detail in this shot.

And in this shot you get a bit of an idea of how the whole neckline will look.

I'm really pleased with the way the sequins sparkle with the small bead on top.  Tell you what though, picking those tiny seed beads up is a task fraught with fear - I am sure I'll upend my wee tray (a child's paint mixing tray) and lose the lot down between the arms of my chair!  You also need fingernails and handcream.  I find the sequins get a lot of static on them, and it's difficult to separate them so you only pick up one, while the nails are good for selecting just one seed bead!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Making a Bedlah iii

Several shots of how I covered the bottom half of the bra and strap, and a detail of the beading.
Stitching the covering on the front was a real fiddle, and I know I said it wasn't going to be too tidy, but in fact I lied and ended up stitching it almost invisibly. It was tricky to get the sides the same because I'd stretched and pulled on it to get a nice curve - but it's done now after several needle-stabs to the fingers.

I've tidied up the ends as shown above, but not finished them because I'm going to have to try the whole thing on to ensure the straps are adjusted and when I add the shoulder straps on.
Here's the front, to show you how the stitching on the curve went.

It's not critical to have this stitched so neatly, because I'm covering it with ruching anyway, but it's always nice to have it neat so that if I change my mind I don't have to re-do that area. I may yet put a line of beads along here to give the dividing line more szoosh.

Once again I gave into temptation and did some more beading on the front. I finished (well, maybe...) the sequinned area and added some 6mm and 4mm beads scattered over it, plus some beads that look like rice grains, to try and give some direction to the starburst effect. I'm really pleased with the effect of the silver and iridescent sequins, it's bright and shiny and will glitter well under lights.

This is just a quick shot to show how I've done the sequins - two sequins and a seed bead on top. The thread goes up through all three, then leaves the seed bead and goes back in through the sequins, holding the whole lot tight. It's a good way to hide the thread, and it adds lots of sparkle.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making a Bedlah ii

Yesterday I showed you the start of covering a bra for my new silver bedlah. Today I've progressed just a little further with covering the lower part of the bra and the back, and started the beading on the front.I reinforce, and stabilise the strap with grosgrain ribbon. (NB this is pronounced 'growgrain'!). I'll machine stitch this into place before covering it with the silver fabric (that is underneath the bra in this shot).
Turning the bra over, I pin this to cover the lower half of the bra and the strap. I'll hand-stitch this, but because most of the upper portion of this silver fabric will be covered with ruching, I'm not going to be too fussy with the stitching....and because one of my favourite parts of making a bra and belt is doing the beading, I couldn't wait and started to bead the front. You can't see this very well in this shot below, but I've used two sequins - a silver one on the bottom, and an iridescent one on top, and an iridescent seed bead on top to finish it. I'm aiming for a starburst effect, and don't worry - there will be much more beading than this by the time I'm finished!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making a Bedlah

A bedlah is only one of several costumes used in Middle Eastern Dancing, but it's one of the most recognisable. I'm going to show you the steps I've taken to cover a bra and make a belt and skirt.
I've spent some time reviewing some of the designs, but what I start with and what I end up with is a little unknown!

Firstly, I choose a well-fitting bra that has moulded cups (that is, they support themselves and retain their shape when you lie them down). In this case I've used a strapless bra, but if you do use a bra with straps, mostly you'll need to remove the straps and replace them with straps with no stretch.
I've sketched several designs, but as I mentioned, I'm open to what happens as I start to play with the fabric.

There will be two different skirts for this costume. A white velvet slim-fitting trumpet-shaped one (velvet not shown), and a swirl skirt with alternating mauve and silver stretch-dot fabric (the piece on the far left, and the second from right).

I've used dark silver fabric to act as an underlayer for the top half of the bra. This will be overlaid with the silver sequinned mesh fabric (on the right in the picture above).

I've used a rough square of fabric, pinning it to the bra and taking in two darts to help shape the fabric. I've then stitched along the edge, and over the dart, to flatten and secure this layer.

Next I laid the silver sequin mesh over, and stitched it down. Because the mesh is a little stretchy, I've tortured it a little and pulled it into shape, as well as taking tiny tucks along the bottom edge to help it fit the bra shape.

You can see how I've chosen the selvedged edge to reduce the number of sequins I have to remove to make the inside of the bra just a little more comfortable. I'll be lining it, and using silver satin bias binding to ensure there are no irritating scratchy bits.

Here's a final close-up of the stitching on the front of this layer, where you can see the small tucks I've taken.

I'll post more when I've done the next part of this bra. There will be loads of beading, a central detail, and ruching that will be echoed on the belt as well.