Over the past month, I’ve been working on this tangerine bedlah set. I’ve been sharing tons of in-progress photos over in my Studio Davina Facebook Group. If you want to see more details about the construction of that costume, come join the group and do a search on “Tangerine” to see all the posts.
The Design Brief
My client, Shalimar, provided me with a simple design brief, “Professional Quality, Orange, Sparkly, and Expensive-Looking.” When you are making a costume for yourself, a design brief will include a list of features that you want or need. Starting with a design brief helps designers keep on track as they work through each step in the design process.
Design is a Process
In a nutshell, design is a process. Design is the act of making choices that narrow down your options from everything possible to exact details. When I am teaching costume design classes and workshops, I focus on breaking down the process of design into several large phases, and then in each phase, smaller easy to accomplish steps.
In the world of belly dance costuming, the second phase is research. During this phase you will focus on gathering information in these three areas:
- Cultural or historic research to find out what elements are necessary to complete the goals of the design brief.
- Gathering images for the mood or concept board to inspire and inform your costume design.
- Sourcing Materials to locate all the fabrics and embellishments needed to complete the costume.
As a designer, I keep a list of reliable dealers, sources, stores, and shops that I know and trust and can refer to time and again. Back in the day, this was a three-ring binder full of flyers, handwritten notes, swatches, and business cards. In the digital age, this has become a note on my computer where I park all the websites and email addresses of my favorite dealers.
For instance, whenever I need to buy Egyptian Fringe, I go to this Google document and click through to my absolute favorite source for Egyptian Fringe is Scheherezade Imports. Don’t let the vintage vibes of the website fool you. They have a ton of stuff stored in their warehouse so if you know what you need, Lucy the proprietress will check her stock for you. Lucy offers a full-service custom shopping experience.
Other places where I regularly purchase products include the venerable JoAnn Fabrics A local mill-end store called “Fabrics R Us” with no website, and Mood Fabrics in Los Angeles. There are many many more entries in my design book. Professional designers consider their book of sources part of their business assets and keep the entries a secret so they can access elements that are completely unique to their designs.
Use the Power of Search
No matter what website I’m using, I like to harness the power of the search bar to find exactly what I’m looking for. When I first started hunting for affordable acrylic and resin rhinestones and embellishments, I went to the Amazon search bar and simply typed exactly what I wanted. My search was for “Orange sew-on rhinestones” and I found several assortments to choose from. You can see the four sets I selected below.
Get this Look
Like fashion, sewing supplies, fabric colors, and embellishments change with the seasons. The materials that were available in July 2020 might not be available when you are ready to go shopping. Over time, this link list is going to stop functioning as products go out of stock. This is especially true of amazon.com.
If you live in an area that doesn’t have great options for a wide variety of beads, baubles, and stones, the internet will be your best option. Also, if you already have an Amazon Prime account, it’s a good place to stop and check out the options. When I was working on this costume, it was the best choice during a locked-down, and then socially distanced time. As you know, I sell my books on Amazon.com. All the links below are affiliate links. Using these links helps support this blog and my ongoing research. Thank you!
Fabrics and Embellishments on Amazon
This bedlah set was made out of micro sequin tablecloths! These are an affordable option that cuts down on sewing time because they come pre-hemmed and you can work that hem into cutting, especially when using round tablecloths for skirts. For this ensemble, we use gold and orange.
To have the most texture and color in the scattered rhinestones and resin pieces, I bought four assortments. You can see some of these pieces in the close-up images of the belt. In addition, I pulled a handful of pink and gold stones from my already existing back-stock of stones. You can see in the image below the assortments I purchased and how I applied them to the bra in a bilaterally symmetrical scatter pattern
I hope that this insight into the design process I used for this lovely two-toned tangerine bedlah set.
Best of luck in all of your costuming projects,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
September 8, 2020