Golden Goddess Costume – Part 1

Shalimar in pinkAfter taking a month off in December of 2018, I’m now diving back into a project that I began last summer.  I sometimes am asked why I need so much “lead time” to make a costume, and the answer is simple.  Everything takes time.  From designing the initial concept to meetings, fittings, patternmaking, and sewing, there’s simply a lot to do for each garment.  In this blog post, I’m going to map out the steps that I take when working with a client to design a custom costume.

Last year, I completed this lovely ensemble for Bay Area professional dancer, Shalimar. I was thrilled that she was happy with the performance and audience response to this costume.  She commissioned a new costume that we are calling “The Golden Goddess.”

Shalimar’s Idea: A head to toe gold and rhinestone costume suitable for close-up performances in dark restaurants. 

Design Brief

When I’m working on a project with a customer, it’s a good idea to create a design brief and project contract.  This can be a formal negotiation with a contract or an informal goals list.  Every designer is different, but at a bare minimum, you want your contract to include budget, timeline, and costume summary. For more detail about the design brief, check out this blog post.

Initial Sketch

Once you have hammered out the fine points of your contract, it’s time to design. For the Golden Goddess costume, I did these initial design sketches.

I generally have some ideas on the types of materials we are considering for use in this costume.  For the Golden Goddess, we choose a micro-sequin base with individual rhinestones, rhinestone chain, and sequin on string.

This type of sketch is called a flat, and I like to draw in pencil on gridded paper to help maintain the proportions of the costume.  These initial sketches are a point of discussion and development when working with the customer.  Often these designs will be refined and adjusted as the project progresses.


Agreeing on a budget is always an important part of the contract between designer and client. In my business, the budget is broken into two parts.

Cost of Materials

When calculating the total cost of a project, I always begin with materials.  The materials, fabrics, and trims that you choose to use in your costuming project play the biggest role in determining how lush or sparse a costume will appear.  Often, more expensive fabrics are so spectacular, they require less work to craft into a show-stopping costume.  As a designer, I always have estimates of what each element in the costume will cost when budget planning.

Cost of Labour and Time

The second part of the budget is my labor and time. My time falls into three categories.  The first is design services, and that’s the time it takes to sketch the designs, source materials, project planning and set up. The second category of the budget is time. This includes meeting times, fitting, and shopping and sourcing time. The third section is sewing and construction. This is simply the time I spend during the build of the costume.  With experience, I’ve learned how much time it takes to design, source materials, and construction, so my estimates are accurate, barring design changes.

Sourcing Materials

Once my client and I have decided on a design, set a budget, and tentatively chosen the materials and supplies needed for a design, we begin sourcing materials. Sometimes my clients arrive with fabric and all we need to buy are the things we need to complete a garment. Often my customers like to buy their materials on their own.  For this Golden Goddess costume, my client authorized me to make all the purchases necessary to complete the costume.

For the Golden Goddess ensemble, we are using gold micro-sequin cloth, individual rhinestones, and rhinestones on chain.  For speed and convenience, I wound up purchasing most of the materials and supplies from Amazon.  I do not have a great selection of fabric stores in my area so I will frequently resort to internet shopping to get the price and quantities I need to craft my ensembles.  We had to allow time for all the materials and supplies to arrive before beginning the costume.  Sourcing took about three months last summer.

Create a Project Box

As we gather the materials and supplies, I create a project box that will contain all of the design elements in one convenient location.  I will label it with the customer’s name and place it on a shelf in my sewing studio.  When it’s time to work on a costume, I can easily pull down their box and dive into the project with a minimum of hassle and running around.

All of these steps are part of my design flow that helps me move from a rough concept to finished costume.  Every designer, costumer, or seamstress will have a different process.  I hope that this process break down inspires you!

Happy Costuming and Dance,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
January 9, 2019 



January 2019 – 30 Day Makeup Challenge

Amani Maharet promotional photo by The Dancer's Eye

Over the past three years I’ve been having fun participating in an annual 30-day makeup challenge. This year, I’m tackling a 30-day Makeup Challenge during the month of January.  I spotted a fantastic prompt list over on Instagram created by Florida based dancer, Amani Maharet. I love following her Instagram feed and though I wasn’t planning on doing a challenge in January, her inspiring set of prompts convinced me to give it a go.  While I don’t have room in my schedule to tackle every day’s challenge, I’m planning on doing as many as I possibly can over the next few weeks.

Amani Maharet by The Dancer’s Eye
Amani’s feed on Instagram
(Check out that beautiful purple Assiut shawl!)

Why Do a Makeup Challenge?

There are several reasons great reasons why taking a makeup challenge is a great choice for a student of dance at any level.  Here are the 5 reasons why I recommend every student of dance, regardless of level, take on a makeup challenge.

  1. Using challenge prompts inspires creativity.  Having a list of challenges helps fuel new ways of thinking about makeup.  Often completing a prompt requires creating a look you might not have come up with on your own.  Use this as an opportunity to think about your makeup look in new ways.
  2. Encourages exploration of my makeup collection. Often we fall into ruts using the same cosmetics in the same way. In order to meet the prompt challenge, you will find yourself looking at your collection in new ways. Perhaps I’ll put powder products in new places, pair up different eyeshadow palettes, or craft new lip cocktails using my current products.
  3. Gives me the impetus to purge my products and tools.  Makeup goes bad and brushes wear out.  I find that challenges are the perfect time to inventory my collection and get rid of things that are no longer serving my needs. This is also a time when I build my wish-list to purchase replacements for outdated items, to fill holes in my collection, or for things I might want to give me more options for creative looks.
  4. Make the time to really learn new application techniques. Tackling a challenge means taking the time to experiment with your current makeup application methods. During challenges, I always make time for research into new approaches, methods, and techniques. Practicing a method for a couple of weeks in a row will give me time to perfect it.  Alternately, sometimes I give the method a good try but decide it’s not my style.  In either case, a month is a long enough period to really put a method to the test.
  5. Participating with other dancers around the web. One of the most fun aspects of taking a challenge is sharing the experience with friends locally and around the web.  You can share step-by-step, before and after, or just finished photos using the challenge hashtag. I like to make demonstration videos to share the products and techniques I am experimenting with so my friends, students, and customers can check out what I’m up to.

Video:  I made an FB Live GRWM style video.
(And WOW – could FB’s algorithm choose a more flattering cover image?  I think not!)

30-Day Makeup Challenge – Week One Wrap-Up

During the first week of the challenge, I managed to complete four looks.  The first (Lower Right) was the day 1 prompt, “Daily go-to look.”  This is the kind of makeup I put on for meetings and for presentations at non-dance events.  Day 3 was rainbow (Lower Left) and I got to use my latest eyeshadow palette, the BH Cosmetics “Take me Back to Brazil: Rio Edition.”  Each year I treat myself to one new makeup palette for the holidays, and this was the first time I ever used this one.

The top right image is from Day 4, “Recreate a look from a YouTuber,” and I decided to create a look that I did in my own 2016 challenge. This gave me an opportunity to try my new palette putting together a look I have already tried. (check out the video below)  I must say, I am really enjoying this new palette a lot!  The top left image is my Day 5, “A Color I don’t get to Wear” which is Silver.  For many many years, silver and black eyeshadow was my “signature look.”  I’m living a more colorful life these days, but it was nice to have this blast from the past.  I had trouble with my eyelash glue, and though I put lashes on, I had to immediately take them off!  I’m now on the hunt lash glue.

I’m looking forward to tackling week two of this challenge!  If you are inspired to give it try, please be sure to tag me if you share it on Instagram or FaceBook.

Best of luck in all of your makeup experiments,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
January 6, 2019.


QR Code Class at Belly Dance Business Academy

QR Code for the Studio Davina Blog

Happy New Year!  New Class Announcement

It’s January 2019 and it’s my biggest planning month.  Instead of creating a bunch of new goals, I’m rolling through with my unfinished 2018 projects.  One of my goals was to design and make a new belly dance business card with a QR code that will quickly bring people here to my website.

FREE digital demo – Making QR Codes

QR Codes

Some of you might be wondering what is a QR code? In a nutshell, it’s a square-shaped matrix barcode that creates a convenient link to a web address.  Businesses use QR codes on marketing materials, packaging, and signage that direct interested customers to informative web pages.

QR Digital Demo

Since I was working on this project, I thought I would take a moment and share my method for creating a QR code and placing it into my new business card.  For me, this was a four-step process.

  1. Design a business card using Canva.comChoose the Web Address -Select the place that you want to send your readers.  Strategize while making your marketing plans and choose the ideal place.  For my business card, I would like my potential clients, customers, or students to come here to my website.
  2. Go to a QR Code Generator – There are many free QR code generators around the web.  This is a link to the one that I use.  Plug the URL of your destination into the QR code generator and in moments, you have your code.  Save this as an image.
  3. Design your Print Material – Lately, I’ve been using the free web-based design tool Canva to quickly craft my marketing materials.  Since QR Codes are square, it’s easy to make space for them in your design.
  4. Review, Edit, and Send – The last step is to step away from the project and give it time to simmer in your mind.  Business cards are an investment, so I like to come back at a later day to review and edit.  I also like to share it with friends for feedback.  When I’m finished, I will send it to my favorite printer.

Watch the Digital Demo

I’ve put this QR Code digital demo on the Belly Dance Business Academy.  BDBA is a fantastic resource that is home to a broad variety of classes, workshops, and demos.  It’s free to enroll, (code for sign up for their mailing list) and many of the classes are free!  Once you’ve signed up for a class, it stays in your class library and you can refer to them as often as you like.

Happy New Year!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Jan 2, 2019