cabaret costume

Bellydance Bra: A How To Tutorial

First post of 2014! One I promised to do nearly 5 months ago… oopsy!

Life got in the way a bit in 2013, but I’ve promised myself that I’ll write blog posts more often. I need to get into it for my photography site as well, so it’ll be a year of blogging!

So this post is a bit of a tutorial on how to make a bellydance bra. I don’t promise that this is perfect or the only way to do it. If you do something differently to the way I do – let me know in the comments below so I can try out your methods! As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (ew.)

First, you need to find a bra to work on. This means doing a bit of shopping. Try on different shaped bras to see what suits you best. I find that this “sweetheart” styled bra fits me quite well and makes me feel very secure, which is really important since you’re going to be (hopefully) flinging yourself around in it.

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Check that the back of the bra isn’t riding up. That is a sure sign that it doesn’t fit properly! A good bra should sit relatively low in the back (as this lifts the girls up in the front), the straps shouldn’t dig into you & you should be able to do the “arm test” (scroll down to see that)

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When I try on bras, I do this silly looking test that I call the “arm test”. I lift my arms in front of me (as illustrated below) and I see if the bra gapes. If the bra gapes, then I usually don’t buy it. Simply because if I am in the middle of a choreography and want to lift my arms in front of me, I won’t be able to do so without flashing the audience. (Not sexy)

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Like I said, silly looking. 🙂

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I encourage you to always buy bras that are “multi way”. This is because if you want to make halter straps, the bra is already designed to be able to move that way. If you buy a bra that doesn’t have the multi-way function, and you make a halter neck, it will distort the bra and make it gape.

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I recently bought bra cups at our fabric shop. I still want to try them, but stuck with what I knew for this tutorial.

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What you will need:

* Fabric of choice

* Scissors

*Thread (in the same colour as the fabric, unlike me. Don’t do as I do…)

*Pins

*Needles

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And optional: A sewing machine.
This was the first bra I have ever sewed using my machine. I just used it for the straps, as other parts of the bra are too thick to sew through and I didn’t have the right needles.

It just means it goes faster and is slightly neater.

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Not optional: Delicious snacks to get you through the process.

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* Interfacing

Below I have a photo of a bunch of different types of interfacing. From top to bottom:

* A reasonably thick vilene. Doesn’t bend when it’s folded & is not the iron-on stuff.

* Buckram. Very hard & difficult to sew through. Best used for reinforcement.

* A thin vilene. Thin like tissue paper. Not ideal for building straps.

* Thin buckram. Flimsy & soft. Not ideal for building straps, but useful for extra reinforcement.

* Denim (not pictured) I used this for AGES for building my bras & belts. Soft, long lasting & easy to work with.

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STEP 1:
I cover my bra. I usually take a corner of the fabric and try pinning it in different ways before cutting it. Cutting is very final. Buy extra fabric if you’re worried about it.

I first pin the top and then the bottom. The top will always be pinned the same way, but at the bottom you can either use a dart (folds sewn into the fabric to give it a 3-dimensional shape) or ruching (gathers of fabric used to form ruffles.)

I spent a good 2 hours pinning my bra. I wanted to show you how a dart would look, as well as ruching (which is what I went with in the end)

Pinned at the top:

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A very messy dart:

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Ruching Pinned: (lots of pins!)

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Ruching sewn.

With ruching, I just sew at the bottom of it. I don’t sew further up the cup because I don’t want stitching on the cup as it will be visible. I don’t know if this is the correct way to do it, but it is the way I do it.

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STEP 2:

Cut out straps. I used the first Vilene mentioned above to make my straps. I had a pattern from straps already lying around that I had cut out of the thin buckram.

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Placed the pattern on the Vilene. I folded it to end sooner because I wouldn’t be making straps that connect in the back. This is up to you. I

I folded my vilene in half and drew one pattern. I then cut through the 2 layers so that they would be perfectly equal. It also saves time.

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I used this handy little pen to draw on my vilene. It fades in 48 hours or so, so it’s perfect for mapping out your pattern on fabric.

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I place my strap onto my bra to see if it fits. I made a mark with the pen to show where I would need to cut it.

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Before making a commitment to making the straps, I check out my stash of loops & rings that I’ll be using for the straps.

With this, you want to make sure that your loops aren’t much bigger that your straps. If they are, they tend to move around and can end up not fitting quite right.

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I added grosgrain ribbon to my straps for extra reinforcement. This is a new thing I am testing out. Seems to work well!

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Now, take a break and eat one of your snacks. Hmmmm. Chocolate.

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This is the bra with the straps covered & one of them pinned onto the bra. Covering the straps is as simple as putting the fabric over it, pinning & sewing. Nothing fancy or difficult there.

Note that the original bra straps are still on.

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The backs of my bras are always insanely messy. I have started lining my bras (you will see why in a bit) but that can only be done once it is totally decorated.

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One half of the bra has a top decoration on it. This is just a silver lace I bought, and folded over the top of this bra.

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The inside again.

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I used my loops on the back straps of the bra, and pin in place. I hand sewed this because my machine can’t get close enough to the loops. (I tried & broke a needle in the process)

At this point, you can cut off your side straps. You can see in the picture above where I cut mine off. Usually where there is a bit of boning in the strap.

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Next, make your top straps. Using vilene (or your base of choice) and grosgrain ribbon, sew them together & cover them in your fabric. Pin to the bra & sew in place. (Again, I did this by hand)

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Ta-da! You now have straps!

NOT PICTURED:

Adding the loops to the top straps & sewing in place.

Then go outside and take some photos in your fabulous new bra!

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Below you can see the reason why lining is so important. the tiny bits of fabric will sneak out of the bottom of your bra and show. (I have no idea how to line stuff – I just make it up as I go along!)

Harem Pants & Necklace: Also by me! 😉

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Back of the bra:

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You can see that it is still very rough, but I am fine with that, as I will be covering all those seams.

I know some of you like to pin my stuff, so I’ve done this picture below that you can use as the pinned picture:

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If you cant seem to pin it, find my pin here (click click) and feel free to share! 🙂

If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know in the comments below! I love to hear from you!

xx

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Miscellaneous Catch up

Welcome back!

I know, I’ve been absent for 2 months, but a lot of dance related drama has been going through my head and I’ve had a bit of stuff to deal with. But it’s all sorted now and I can look forward to 2012, which is already looking better than 2011!

I have been doing a fair bit of costuming, I made a new Tribal Fusion bra from bits and pieces bought at Geka and lovely faux suede fabric in a chocolate brown colour – ooh! I realized how many things I have in browny shades for my bottom half and that I only had 2 black fusion bras, but nothing brown to go with my brown pants or cream coloured wraps. Below is a very bad photo of this new bra – just taken with my phone. I will find and upload a nicer photo at some point.  I still want to do a bit of work to it, without overwhelming it with things. The problem is that it looks full and great up close but when I wear it in the studio it doesn’t look like much from far away. Hmm. Ideas? Also, the dark brown lace on the sides is insanely itchy which is great for keeping my arms up and not letting them drop but it does leave ugly marks on me after I take my bra off. Ah, the joy of sensitive skin!

In other costuming news, I have taken apart my blue cabaret costume. I realize I never posted photos of the finished product, but I have one or two from our show that I will post. After seeing the DVD of the show, I realized that there was too much wrong with it. Firstly, I am a rather short person (1.58m = 5 feet 2 inches) so having a belt on that was so wide just didn’t suit me and made me look shorter, especially with such long fringing! Then the bra had collapsed and gone soft so it didn’t fit properly, the straps were badly designed for my body type… I could go on. I’m sure you understand now why I decided to take apart the old bra and belt and make something new. Also – the shiny fabric was awful to work with and I wouldn’t mind working with just a plain cotton fabric.  So that is a future project… I have ideas of what to do with the long fringe because it’s too long, but I don’t think I’ll say what the plan is until it’s done. Otherwise I might fail miserably and then be the laughing stock of all belly dancers ever.

In other news – Kash from Rhythm Nouveau Dance Company is hosting Heather from Tribal Angels up in Joburg for a few ATS workshops! I am unfortunately dirt poor so I can only attend ONE of the workshops – boo! – however, Maya has also been asked to perform at the hafla which is being hosted on the Saturday night. I will be performing my solo from the BellyRing Hafla last year and Maya will be performing Lunar which we also performed at the Oriental Festival last year. I just need to wait a bit of time and then I can upload our performance of Lunar at the Oriental Festival. It’s an amazing dance and we loved learning and performing it.

In preparation for the hafla and workshops, we are doing ATS  every week until the end of February. We haven’t done ATS in a while, and I had forgotten just how much I love it. I am the first person to admit that it’s not always exciting to watch, but performing it and doing the moves and having great interactions with the other dancers is AMAZING. I might be in love all over again! 😉

Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully I will be posting more and more… if there is a topic you would like me to cover or an argument you feel like having me rant about, then please email me or leave a comment! At the top of the page you will find a “contact” page and you can find my email address there. 🙂