Sunday, 24 June 2012

Inspired by the Golden Era. Part 2 - the skirt and the belt

I've just realized how long it is since I posted part one. How time flies when you're busy sewing!

The skirt was made from the same fabric as the bra covering. While the thinness of the fabric had been a problem when covering the bra, for the skirt it was an advantage, as it draped beautifully.

I wanted to make the skirt in the two colours. I have done this with a circle skirt in the past, splitting the skirt into segments, but this time I chose to make what is essentially a straight black skirt, with six 1/6 circle white godets set in. This is a style of skirt I really like, as it provides the fullness of a circle skirt at the bottom (perfect for those Samia-like arabesques!) without the bulk at the top. The hem and the sides of the godet were trimmed with the silver braid which I had used on the black halter strap, and a sequin motif at the top of each godet finished the whole thing off.

The completed skirt

The hip belt provided the opportunity for some more Golden Era styling. Whereas modern hip belts tend to have a straight top, many of the costumes in the film clips I had studied had belts with a shaped top line, with the back higher than the front. Heavy fringing was not much in evidence on these belts either; a few strands of fringe or a looped decoration was much more common.

Samia Gamal and Tahia Carioca in Golden Era costumes

I had already decided to have the fasten at one side of the belt, with the join covered by the drape from the bra. The fabric used was a black stretch lace with silver decoration, backed with some of the plain black jersey I had used to cover the bra cup. The edges were trimmed with more of the diamante trim which I'd used on the bra.  The final touch was a looped decoration of silver grey pearls and crystal beads.

Side view of the completed belt

On the inside I added a couple of practical details; a loop of elastic through which I could thread the veil to ensure that it didn't come loose, and a single red sequin marking the centre front, to ensure that I could easily put the belt on in the correct position.

Skirt and belt together

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A 'Tarantella' dress

As part of our preparation for This is Deva 2012, Meroe choreographed a new dance which included some ideas inspired by the tarantella. This needed a new costume, and initially we were thinking of having new dresses. Time and budget shortages meant that this didn't quite work out but it did remind me that I have always liked princess line dresses with a full skirt. I need some new summer dresses anyway, and have just the pattern .

Yes, in line with my plan for stash reduction, I am using a pattern which I already have, one which I've never used. In fact, I dread to imagine just how long I've had it; the shop whose name is stamped on the front closed in 2002!

My decade-old (at least) pattern

I want to make a few changes; namely remove the tie at the back, change to a back, zip opening, and alter the back neckline. The length will probably end up somewhere between the two options shown.

As I'm not buying a pattern, the rules allow me to buy some fabric. When I saw this in my local fabric shop I felt that it was just the light, fresh look I was after. 

Striped cotton with a fresh, summery feel

However having looked a the pattern pieces in more detail, I now realize that getting the stripe placement right is going to be tricky, and will take careful planning of the cutting layout. The stripes need to match on each seam, otherwise the whole thing will just look messy. While I have done this before, on the ghawazee coat costume for Ya Raqs, that was with a simpler stripe pattern, and a stiffer fabric.

Ghawazee coats at the British Museum

Before I take scissors to fabric however, I need a pattern which actually fits. And that is a whole other post.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Headdresses and Hades

It's been a busy few weeks. The Chester Roman Festival took place last weekend, and Ya Raqs were heavily involved on both days. As well as our usual rehearsals, I had plenty to do on the costume front.

Last year we added a new Nubian headdress to our costumes. This consisted of a long veil worn over the head, and held in place with red and black scarves twisted together. It  looked very effective, but there was a problem. It was tricky to put on, especially in our usual changing facilities of very little space and no decent mirrors.

Just how tricky became obvious when I saw the photographs of some of the girls at Liverpool Museum in March. To make matters worse, the whole thing was prone to slipping off mid-dance. Clearly something had to be done.

Headdress disaster on the steps of Liverpool Museum

I had already cheated a bit, by sewing the red and black fabric together into a single long scarf. Now I decided to take the same approach as I'd used for our Ghawazee headdresses, and attached the complete headdress onto a rigid hairband. First I sewed the veil onto the band. Then I cut the red and black scarf in half, attached one half on each side, twisted them over the top, and then sewed the twists in place. There was enough of the scarf loose at each end to tie under our hair and this, along with the teeth on the hairband, kept the whole thing secure.

Nubian headdresses fixed, plus two of the Ghawazee headdresses

This year's festival included live performances by Manike, and three of the girls performed the 'Dance of Hades' with the group. As time was short by this stage, the costume was made from a purchased top and skirt. The skirt was left untouched, but for the tops I had to remove the sleeves, remake the neckline, and add ribbon trim. Finally I made yet more headdresses, this time in suitable flame-like colours.
Hades dance costumes