I am very excited to have purchased one of Sandra's Bellas! Her green velvet one to be exact. I have been wanting a forest green costume for some time, but I never thought I'd get one quite this extravagant. As per my usual MO it is a beater; it has had a couple of owners and hasn't been washed, had the missing beads replaced, or the lining changed ever. It isn't suitable for performance as is, but I am excited to get it ready to dance again. The only pre-made costumes I ever buy are beaters. To me, buying something that is ready to go takes part of the fun out of it. I love giving new life to old costumes. Also, the crust punk in me feels a certain affinity to the rusted, falling apart nature of these costumes. My life is a mixture of glamour (dance) and scumbag (little 'ole me) and so are beaten up costumes. Together we are a perfect fit, they allow me to express myself and I give them a(nother) chance to shine.
The first thing I did was take stock of the damage on each piece of the costume (how many large crystals were missing, noted the portions of fringe that were gone, etc.) and made a list of materials needed and materials I have in my bead and fabric stashes that will match. Then I set to work trying to color match beads for the missing fringe. It is composed of 4 kinds- emerald transparent bugles, a dark steely gold twisted bugle, dark green iris hex cut, and gold hex cut. Luckily I had some gold and Fire Mountain had great matches for the rest. The missing fringe is the biggest component of the restoration since a lot of it is missing on the back of the belt. Other then that it needs new chiffon arm bands (it came with one but it is snagged), beading restored on the headband, new wristlets (one is missing, the other was so badly rusted around the hook that it is unusable), a new lining, loose and missing beads replaced on the bedlah, and new hooks. While waiting for the beads from Fire Mountain I set to work on whatever I could in the meantime.
I seam ripped the area where the 2 pieces of the belt were attached and removed the lining. Now that the belt is two pieces it will be easier to replace the fringe and change the lining and also I will need to take the belt in a little so that it will lay symmetrically on me and not overlap under the cutout on the hip. While taking out the lining I noticed that there was a pin in the costume, it looks like it has been there since the costume was first made. It always amuses me to find pins in costumes since they have usually been there for years unnoticed. I think this one is original to the costume.
The lining of the bra cups was removed by LisaShimmy (who briefly owned the costume before me) so she could wash the bra. Washing costumes scares me so I'm really glad she did this. When I removed the lining from the bra bands one of the bands just fell apart. Years of sweat without changing the lining rots the threads of a costume, if you don't change the lining often enough the threads holding it together will just disintegrate. The lining had never been changed on this costume and the straps are very thin so that is what seems to have happened here. I fixed it and added new hooks and was able to try on the bra. I was a bit worried when I bought it since the size was smaller then what I usually buy but in this case it worked out. However, the cups are still fairly small on me so the cutouts are a bit scandalous. I will probably leave them as is for the photoshoot since the fabric I have to line them with (left over from making a slip for a costume last spring) might looks odd in pictures but I will line them before wearing it for a performance.
I replaced the missing green stones with some AB olive colored ones from the olive costume I made in the fall of 2010. In what might be called blasphemy, I like mine better then the ones Bella used and have been considering switching all of the green ones out. I also re-attached the loose rhinestone chain on both the bra and belt.
The headband is missing a lot of sequins but instead of trying to color match them I gave the headband to my friend Jericha who creates beautiful headpieces and asked her to cover up the damaged area and turn it into a flowered headpiece instead of a plain headband.
I tried removing the rusted hook from the one wristlet but it was so badly rusted on that it had fused to the fabric. The only way to remove it was to cut the rusted area off. I think I will just make 2 new wristlets since one is missing anyways. I plan to take the applique off this one and use it on the new one. This part may not be done for the photoshoot next weekend. The two armbands are in really good shape so those and some bracelets will do just as well.
I have 2 skirts that match this costume- the velvet trumpet that came with it and a green circle skirt I got on the Bhuz swap meet. The trumpet skirt doesn't fit me particularly well since it is a bit loose so I don't think I will wear it for the photoshoot. The green circle skirt matches nicely but is a bit plain for the costume. Ultimately I would love a dark green Pharaonix Arabesque skirt but that isn't in my budget at the moment so I will most likely use the circle skirt for the photoshoot.
The beads arrived in the mail yesterday and they match very well. I have a lot of fringe to restore over the next week. Hooks need to be adjusted, jewelry and accessories will be acquired, and next Saturday I will bring this costume to my photoshoot with Paul Jones of RT2 Photography. Stay tuned for the Bella Restoration Part 2, photoshoot prep and results!
My adventures in dance, music, costume design...