Costuming DIY General

7 Bellydance Costuming Tasks to do During a Down Time

As I write this in March of 2020, virtually the entire world has gone into quarantine as a preventative health measure.  With a bit more free time, you can now do some of those pesky chores that always seem to fall to the bottom of the list. So to help combat the overwhelm of the situation happening throughout the world, I’ve created a list of costuming and wardrobe maintenance tasks that regularly need to be completed.

Five-step plan to tackle these projects:

1 – Grab your favorite beverage
2 – Put on your headset and listen to a playlist of upbeat music, an interesting podcast or an audiobook.
3 – Choose a project from the ideas below
4 – Work on it until it’s done or you need to stop.
5 – Stand back and admire your work!!   If you’re on social media, why not take a set of “Before and After” pictures to share with your dance friends.
Now you might already have a to-do list and schedule for your costume wardrobe maintenance.  If so, I applaud you!   I have quarterly objectives that I have set reminders in my Google calendar.  These “not so fun” tasks can be difficult to make room for in my calendar, but then offer me so much satisfaction when they are done!

Update (or Start) your Costume Inventory

Years ago, I would keep a spreadsheet of all my costume pieces.  But now, in the era of the smartphone, I simply keep an album of me wearing each and every costume I have in rotation. So if you’ve gotten new costume pieces since you’ve done your last inventory, nows the time to add them.  The same goes for things that have been removed from your inventory.  Delete them from your spreadsheet or move the photo from your “Wardrobe” gallery into your “Archives” so that you can save the memory, but keep your wardrobe inventory accurate.  These costumes are embellished with acrylic sew-on stones I picked up from Amazon.

Do the Laundry

If you are like me, you probably have a veil that’s been through the wringer or a skirt that’s been worn one too many times. Now is a great time to wash those pieces and get them clean and fresh for when the gigs start pouring in.  In my world I hand-wash silk veils using baby shampoo, I machine wash assiut pieces in a lingerie bag on the gentlest cycle (which on my machine oddly says “hand wash” and I make sure that all of my spandex wear is washed in cool water and hung dry to preserve the spandex.  What do I use to launder my assiut and tel kirma pieces?   I use Orvus, which I think is the choice for vintage cotton textiles.

Clean and repair Jewelry

In our dance form, jewelry can take a real beating. So it’s time to give your jewelry some TLC.  Give everything a good polish and shine.  Identify and repair any jump rings or missing pieces that you can.  While you have everything out and cleaning it, why not take photos for your inventory while you have everything out and on display.  I use a jewelry cleaning cloth similar to this one to wipe down stones, cones, and chains.

Re-line Bra and Belt Sets

Linings can get pretty gross.  They might get makeup on them, sweat, and oil from contact with our bodies.  Periodically I like to remove the old sweaty lining and replace old padding in the bra. Then I spray with disinfectant – I use 2/1 vodka/water.  Let the bedlah pieces dry thoroughly. Then I install a new lining into the garment.  These Dritz ready-made bust pads are quick and easy to install, but you can always make your own.

Make Repairs

Every wardrobe is completely different and unique, so ya never know what exact tools and materials you will need to make repairs on your garments. But I have a well-stocked sewing kit, and I try to keep a “repair materials” kit for each of my costumes.  That includes a selection of beads, rhinestones, coins, and other surface embellishments to make repairs. For touching up my shoes and other craft projects, I keep a collection of Sharpie markers in various colors in my tool kit.

Clean Storage Boxes & Gig Bags

Since you will be pulling everything out of their storage containers, this is a great time to wipe them down.  While you’re at it, it’s also a good time to clean out and wipe-down your class and gig bags too.  I have owned this canvas tote bag from Lands End for more than 25 years, and it’s still going strong!   But it no longer is completely white – even after cleaning.  I kinda want to get another one, the new styles have an outside pocket, but this one has a lot more life in it!

Makeup Stash Clean and Inventory

Oh you know it’s a chore to go through and clean up the old makeup stash.  First, focus on the tools and toss the dead tissues, clean the brushes and sponges.  Next, go through your products to get rid of anything dried out, outdated, past its prime. If you haven’t used it in the past year, you might want to usher it out of your collection. Be sure to check all of your bags, purses, and pockets for hidden lip products.  And don’t forget to wash the boxes, bags, and cups that you use to store your tools and products.  Most of the brushes in this cup come from BH Cosmetics and Real Techniques.
I hope that your time off is at once quiet and uneventful! 
Stay safe and be well!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
March 20, 2020

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.