Designing a Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah Ensemble – Part 3

Making the belt base and covering the bra

Because this belt is a simple 3″ band with the same width all the way around the body, I cut a front and a back the measurement of the hips + 4″.  I like to leave 1″ on the ends of both the front and back for overlap.  Bodies change through time, and 4″ offers a lot of leeway for future fitting adjustments.   I build the inner structure using my 3 ingredient construction technique.  Starting with an inner core of buckram, sandwiched between two layers of heavy-duty fusible interfacing, and then edged with grosgrain ribbon to maintain the shape.  My dancer has a bit of a booty, so I made 1/2″ darts 4″ to either side of the center back. I use clips to hold the darts in place before machine sewing. ((Clips on Amazon))

Building the Belly Dance Belt Base

Although you cannot see the buckram sandwiched between the pellon, in this next photo you can see how I machine sew the grosgrain ribbon into place.  Not only does the grosgrain reduce stretch over time, it also offers an easier layer for hand sewing the fashion fabric. (( Ribbon on Amazon))

Covering the belly dance belt base

I use a coordinating thread color and use a fairly long whipstitch, knotting every 3-4″ to hold the fashion fabric in place.  If I need to move or adjust the fabric, I can pull out this long baste easily.  If I got it right the first time, it’s knotted frequently enough to serve as a permanent stitch.  I know it will be covered, so these threads won’t catch on things or become abraded with wear.

Covering the belly dance bra

Embellished Bras - Front CoverI also take the bra cups to the same level of completion.  Like the belt, the upper cup edge is reinforced with grosgrain ribbon to prevent this edge from stretching and rolling with time and wear.  Then I cover the bra using the techniques that I cover in my book “Embellished Bras: Basic Techniques”  I make sure that the darts are stitched down as invisibly as possible with a slip stitch.

On the inside of the bra, I use a very fast whip stitch that I knot frequently.  It’s important when using stretch fabric like this purple panne velvet to be aware of the amount of tension and pull you have on the project.  If you pull the fabric tightly, your bra cup may distort or buckle.  So use gentle hands when smoothing the fabric into place and when stitching the fashion fabric down.

I like to turn my bra cups over and inspect them carefully to make sure the darts are well sewn, and the fabric lays smoothly across the surface of our lingerie base.  This is the moment to go back and make any subtle changes to improve the quality of the covering.

At this point, I have completed putting the base structure of this belly dance bedlah set together.  The bra consists of a pair of cups, two bands, and two straps.  The belt is made of two pieces, a front, and back.  They are all at the same level of “doneness” so it’s a great time to stop for the day.

In the next installment of this series, I will lay out all the design elements, choosing locations for the yummie surface embellishments including beaded appliques, jewelry components, Egyptian beaded fringe, and sew-on flat-backed rhinestones.

Happy Costuming & Delightful Dance
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
May 4, 2017

Designing a Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah Series
Step 1 – Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah – Planning the Design
Step 2 – Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah – Bra Bands and Straps
Step 3 – Lavender Belly Dance Bedlah – Belt base and Bra covering – You’re Here!

By Davina

Davina ~ Dawn Devine is a belly dance costume designer, dance instructor and author of more than a dozen publications on Middle Eastern dance.