Costuming DIY General

April Event: 2-Hour Skirt Workshop

“2-Hour Skirt”

90 Minute Live Multi-Media Zoom Workshop/Demo
Sunday, April 25, Noon Pacific
$25 on the BDBA site
Click to Reserve your Space

Q: Can you make a performance-ready
belly dance skirt in under 2 hours?

A: Yes, You Can! 

Join me for a costuming workshop Using a basic sewing machine, some simple patterning, and sewing skills, you can go from a pile of fabrics and notions to a finished micro-sequin skirt in less than 2-hours!

Workshop/Demo Includes:

  • Three different skirt styles and shapes
  • Cutting without drafting a pattern
  • Tips for working with Micro Sequin Fabric
  • Complete list of tools and materials – save time and money!
  • Includes a printable eBook with complete start-to-finish directions

Save Time

Using the right materials, and having the patterning and sewing techniques will make it fast – and easy. Mostly straight line sewing using an ordinary sewing machine.

Save Money

Depending on where you purchase your fabric, these skirts styles can be made today for less than $50, and I bought all the materials for each of these three skirt demos for less than $30 ea.

Fit Your Body

We’re not using a pattern, but rather, taking your measurements and cutting to fit. Starting with the right materials and tools will give you a beautiful outcome for any size or shaped dancer’s body!

Fit Your Style

We have three very different shapes and hem widths, so you will find a style that works for you. Love your leg out? We’ll talk slits! Love to spin? We’ll talk full circle? Fancy a mermaid Moment? We’ve got one of those for ya too!

2-Hour Skirt eBook

Once the workshop is over, use the eBook as a guide for sourcing materials, taking measurements, making patterns, cutting, sewing, and fitting your creations.  This book includes information and ideas beyond the scope of the 90-minute workshop/demo. The “2-Hour Skirt” eBook includes more than the three styles included in the workshop, variations on each skirt theme, and more advanced fitting techniques. 

Come join me for the fun and learn how to quickly and affordably enhance and refresh your belly dance wardrobe over the coming months with a wardrobe of new skirts!  Reserve your space today.

If you have questions about this costume-making event, I’m available via Instagram, Facebook, and good ‘ole email davina at davina dot US.

New costume pieces for spring?
Let’s do it!

Dawn Devine ~ Davina
April 6, 2021

Assiut/Assuit Costuming DIY General

Assiut Mask Project: Part 4 – Orders & Shipping

Hello gang!

At the time of this writing, this project is in full swing. I’m using scraps and left-over bits and pieces of assiut, I will run out of fabric very soon! This project is really using scraps, so most of the pieces are smaller than the mask pattern I developed back in April.  Click through to this blog post if you would like to download the pattern in .pdf form.

Adapting the Pattern

Because I’m working with smaller pieces and scraps, I found making a few pattern variations has helped me use up some of the smaller pieces.  This purple assiut fabric was purchased to make assiut hair flowers

Read the “Assiut Hair Flower” blog post here

On this portion of an assiut shawl, the embroidered motifs are quite widely placed and sparse. To maximize the amount of silver on the bra, I created a two-piece pattern that would place the larger motif in part A and a diamond on part B.

Managing The List

This started off as a very low-key project that I didn’t advertise. I didn’t want to do a big build of masks to put them up on Etsy.  I simply wanted to use up scraps, bits, and pieces to make a practical, yet lovely, pieces for my friends in dance.

WHEW – did I underestimate demand?!?

I had over 100 requests for masks within a week of the first pictures showing up in my Facebook Group.  I made a simple hand-written list in my Studio Davina Log Book with names and fabric preferences.  This list got pretty darned long!  So, I broke this list into batches and started working down the list in order.  This week, I’ll be working on batch #3 and possibly cutting and organizing batch #4.

Order Processing Workflow

Here’s my order process:

  1. Make a batch of assorted colored masks
  2. Take photos with large numbers
  3. Reach out via messages to people on the list with 2-4 options
  4. Once they have selected their mask, tag it with their name – Old-school with a scrap of paper and pin
  5. Message them with payment instructions
  6. Check PayPal to confirm payment
  7. Ship

Each order includes a thank you card, directions insert, and the mask they chose.  We are shipping using United States Postal Service with classic stamps. I can simply leave them for pickup by my mailman.  For those folks living in town, they are welcome to stop by my place for a porch pick up.

Back to the Sewing Machine

And so I leave you here, my friends, as I need to head back to the sewing machine to make a whole pile of more masks.  If you would like to read the previous posts in the series, check out the list below. If you are making masks, I wish you great luck and good fortune!

Happy Costuming (and mask making!)
Dawn Devin ~ Davina
August 3, 2020

This is the fourth blog post in the series:

Post 1: Assiut Mask Project: Part 1 – Project Planning
Post 2: Assiut Mask Project: Part 2 – Materials Prep
Post 3: Assiut Mask Project: Part 3 – Order of Construction

Assiut/Assuit Costuming DIY General

Assiut Mask Project: Part 3 – Order of Construction

Are you the kind of person who reads directions for a pattern first?   Perhaps you like to dive in and figure it out, only referring to the directions in times of need?   Or are you like me, rarely using commercial patterns so you have to figure out how to sew things together on your own?

Studio Davina - Assiut Masks part 3 - www.davina.usOrder of Construction

When I was in fashion school, back before the turn of the century, I learned to make an Order of Construction list so I could hand off garments for other people to construct.  Later, when I was working in the theater, the skill of creating an order of construction list helped me move up the ladder from simile seamstress to first hand, and up to cutter/draper. As a pattern maker, knowing how to create an effective order of construction list can save lots of time and energy.  Once you have a basic construction order for a particular type of garment or accessory, you could use the same list even if there were changes in dimensions.

There’s more than one way to sew the right way.  This means that the way you put a mask together might be very different from my approach. But that’s just fine because the final result is that you create something beautiful, sturdy, good fitting, and functional.

“Big Picture” list

In my process, I like to start with a generalized overview that includes basic steps that I need to take regardless of my project.  While there are times that I might leave out one of these steps, or even add one in, this list covers most of my bases.

  • Make the Pattern
  • Construct Sample and Fit Test
  • Finalize Pattern
  • Create the Order of Construction list
  • Calculate fabric, notions, and findings
  • Source materials
  • Fabric and Materials Prep
  • Cutting
  • Sewing
  • Finishing

Detailed Oder of Construction

From this overview, I am going to drill down to the “Sewing” portion of the list.  Since I charge by the hour for my design and construction services, knowing how long it takes me for each step of the process will allow me to create accurate estimates for my clients.

However, for this mask project, I’m making quite a few (over 50!) and so I need to know exactly how long it takes.  Having a detailed “Order of Construction” helps me record my time trials and maintain consistent product manufacturing.

  1. Sew center fronts
  2. Turn, trim and press
  3. Put right sides together, sew the top and bottom seams
  4. Turn right side out
  5. Press
  6. Stitch casing line along the top edge for wire
  7. Slip wire into place and crip at center
  8. Press seam allowances in at ends
  9. Pin elastic into place and topstitch
  10. Trim all threads and give a final press

Making Masks

One of the nice things about having a detailed order of construction is that I can then share how I put my patterns together with other folks.  I’ve made some modifications and additions to the construction details I originally published in my Mask Pattern and Guide last April.

Can I Buy a Mask?

Unfortunately, this was a “use it up” project, using scraps and leftover bits and pieces from the build for my book “Cloth of Egypt.”  When the supplies are gone – they are gone, and as of this writing, I have more “wish list” than fabric left.

However, if you love these masks, why not make your own?  My last assiut purchase was from Desirees Treasures on Etsy and you can get some high-quality fabric from her store.  You can look around for some ready-made assiut masks as other designers are making them.  Also, check out the beautiful faux-assiut Festival Masks designed by Melodia.  Photo by my co-author Alisha Westerfeld, visit her Smugmug to see more of her photos.

No matter how you choose to mask – be safe and healthy!
Best of luck on your sewing adventures,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
July 20, 2020

Costuming DIY General

Back to Making Costumes

Hello Gang!

After spending many weeks working on that new most essential part of our wardrobe, the protective face mask, I’m now back to work on a costuming project.  One of my ongoing customers is the San Francisco/Bay Area professional dancer Shalimar.   Over the past decade, I’ve been so pleased and blessed to have opportunities to work with Shalimar on performance costumes, dressy garments to wear to shows, and more.

Aqua Stripes Bedlah

Last winter, I made this three-piece costume ensemble that I’ve dubbed “Aqua Stripes.”  At that time, Shalimar was dancing in some closely-packed restaurants and hookah bars and required a slim skirt that wouldn’t catch on chairs and table edges.  The skirt also needed to be easily washable.  We selected this polyester/spandex blend with a holographic finish in bright aqua.

With the world in flux, Shalimar’s needs have changed.  Instead of dancing in crowded commercial spaces, she’s now performing on-line in a corner of her home. So instead of a utilitarian straight skirt, she craves a skirt with more dramatic shape and fullness at the hem.

Coordinating vs. Matching

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough of our primary fabric to cut gussets. I feel so lucky to have sourced some coordinating fabric in the same color-way but with a plain foil surface treatment.

I bought “The last on a bolt” so I am working with what I have available to convert this skirt into something that will spin beautifully.

While we can’t always predict what will happen in the future, we can always remain flexible and open to costume remodeling, upcycling, restyling, and renovation.  Take a peek in your own wardrobe and see if there’s a garment waiting for transformation into something new and fresh to wear to your next digital hafla.

I’m about to dive into the construction now, I’ll be back in a few days with a followup and “after” photos.

Take care and be well,

Dawn Devine ~ Davina
May 22, 2020

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