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Designing a Lavender Bedlah Ensemble – Part 1

Hello Gang!  During the month of March, I’m working on three costume projects.  The first project of the month, I’ve given the title Lavender Garden.  It’s a five-piece belly dance performance ensemble that includes a bedlah set composed of a bra and belt which are covered with lavender stretch velvet, purple and pink appliques, and sprinkled with sew-on rhinestones. In addition, there is also a backless halter dress and two coordinating skirts.  The entire project, except for the bra and the fabric for one of the skirts, is being constructed using left-over materials, vintage “from the stash” fabric, and items bought many years ago and stored for the perfect moment. Over the next three or four posts, I will share the development of this costume from concept to finished stage-worthy performance belly dance costume.

Lavender Garden Mood Board

Lavender and Purple floral bouquet mood board made using PicMonkey | Dawn Devine of Studio Davina - www.davina.us

I made this floral mood board digitally using the free software at PicMonkey.com

One of my strategies as a budget conscious designer is to shop creatively and strategically to build and maintain my stash.  I begin with broad, sweeping visual concepts, and then over time, when I see something that will fit with the color scheme and style of the project, I pick it up and add it to the project kit that fits in with my overall idea.  If I get the materials home, and they aren’t quite right, or seem imperfectEmbellished Bras - Front Cover, I still add them to one of the kits.  If they don’t fit, they get added to the Triage box for sorting at a future date when more items come together to create a project kit.

These kits will include all sorts of items.  This kit began in 2004 shortly after finishing the bra for the cover of the Embellished Bras book.  I had purchased far-far too many appliques, but not quite enough to make a second costume.  So they were the first elements added to the new kit.  Over time, I tucked in more appliques, jewelry components, rhinestones, fringe, and fabrics.  This kit was pretty full and ready to be turned into something magnificent!

The Client Pitch + Rough Sketch

When a continuing client comes to me and asks for a costume, and doesn’t particularly know where to begin, I will pull out some of these pre-planned kits to show them what is possible.  I like to share with them a mood board that catches the color story, texture, and vibe that I envision for the costume I intend to create from this kit.  Having all the materials together can help non-sewers imagine what a final costume will look like.

I will also do quick croquis sketch or two to give them an idea of the drape of the cloth, where embellishments will be placed.  This is where I get to share my design vision.  You don’t have to be a great sketch artist to do this.  Find a croquis, or fashion drawing figure, and print one out and draw right over the top of it. This eleimantes the stress of having to create the body proportions and form.  You can dive straight into the drawing of the costume.   For this quick sketch, I started with this line art from the book “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage.”  Available on Amazon or Etsy.

When working with a customer, you can use this rough sketch to start discussions about color, shape, line, motifs, and any other feature of the costume you desire. When working on a costume for yourself, a sketch can help you identify the supplies and materials you might still need to get, and help you create a build list based on the needs of this particular costume.

I showed my client my “Lavender Garden” project kit. We spread out the fabric and all the materials and she chose to give it a go!  If I were working in a more formal atelier or bigger costume shop, I would have put together a presentation board and affixed swatches and examples of the rhinestones and sequins together.  Instead, I spread them out on a table, let my client touch and feel, and then took photos to document the items I have in mind.

Gathering the Materials and Supplies

Image of materials and supplies used in the creation of the Lavender Garden costume ensemble | Dawn Devine of Studio Davina - www.davina.us

Once I had met with my client, and she was onboard with the plan, she purchased a perfect lingerie bra to convert into a costume and I began work on the sewing part of the project.  The least glamorous part of a costume project is gathering all of the inner structure materials and supplies together.  While it’s fun to look at a luscious pile of rhinestones, beads, and appliques, it’s much less fun to gather up the buckram, interfacing, and grosgrain ribbon that we use to build the inner layer of the belt and bra straps.

Materials for the structure of a belly dance bra and belt set. Buckram, Heavy-weight non-woven fusible interfacing, grosgrain ribbon, and industrial strength hooks and eyes. | Dawn Devine of Studio Davina - www.davina.us

Now that I have all the materials at hand it’s time to work on the pattern for the belt, bra straps, and bra band.  We will continue on with the development of this costume in my next blog post.

Happy Costuming – Glorious Dancing,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
March, 10, 2017 

Designing a Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah Series
Step 1 – Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah – You’re Here!
Step 2 – Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah – Bra Bands and Straps
Step 3 – Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah – Belt Base and Bra Covering

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