I am overdue for an update on this project. I have been busy co-producing the spring student showcase and starting a new class session and I need to catch up on my costuming. However, since I decided to wear the Bella for the student show there is now further progress to report!
For the photoshoot I had worn the bra safety pinned as a halter since the straps were too short to do anything else with it. A halter just won't work for performance though, it is too uncomfortable. For performance I prefer x-back. The best way to make this into an x-back would be to remove the current straps and make new ones, however with the show deadline approaching and organizing requiring the majority of my attention I ended up doing the quicker solution of making extensions for the current straps so they would be long enough to attach to the back straps. If you recall from the previous posts the back straps also needed work. One of them disintegrated and fell off and while the other one was fine it was too skinny for my taste. I like straps with a little more oomph. The side straps of the Bella are all one piece with the cups and the part right next to the cups is fine on both sides so I decided to take a strip of grosgrain, cover it with green velvet, and then attach it to the inside of the current straps. For both sides to be symmetrical I had to cut off part of the non-disintegrated strap so it would match the one that had fallen apart. It is scary to cut into a Bella but it went well and no beads were lost. I was booked solid before the show (I taught over 60 classes, private lessons, and rehearsals but who is counting?!) so I had my talented boyfriend cover the 4 new strap pieces with green velvet for me and I attached them. There wasn't time to bead them before the show so that still needs to happen but they are comfortable and supportive and I was able to wear the costume.
The cups also needed a bit of work since the cutouts were too scandalous on me and I didn't want to worry about costume malfunctions. I had leftover fabric that matches my skin tone from making a slip for my coral costume last year so I used pieces of that to cover the bra cutouts. I think it worked really well; the fabric is opaque and I am much more comfortable now that I don't need to worry about costume malfunctions. I started lining the cups with the final green lining fabric as well but only managed to finish one before the show.
I didn't succeed in finding a new skirt on Bhuz so I decided to go with the green circle skirt I have. It needed an underskirt so the day before the show I went out and bought gold satin to make a skirt that would brighten up the costume and bring out the gold accent beads in the fringe. I cut the fabric and made the skirt that night, but when I tried it on under the green skirt it just didn't look right (the green skirt is a little short on me so the gold stuck out under it). Luckily reversing the situation and wearing the gold one on top looked perfect. I still feel like the skirts are a little plain in comparison to the epic beadwork on the bedlah so I plan to add gold holographic sequin trim. The chiffon sleeves that came with the costume had gold holo sequin trim and I have cutout the fabric for new sleeves and added this type of sequin trim to them so I think it will tie the costume together better to add trim to the skirt as well.
More Work to be Done
The bra straps need beading, the bra and belt both need new lining, the skirt will get sequin trim, and the chiffon armbands and wristlets still need to be finished.
I managed to finish restoring the fringe in time for yesterday's photoshoot! It looks lovely, I'm really happy with the way it came out. The restoration isn't complete yet, but it was finished enough to get photos done. The bedlah will need to be fitted to me better before dancing in it and the accessories still need to be redone. Here is what I accomplished this week...
After a week of working on the belt fringe I finished it at midnight the night before the photoshoot. Stringing the fringe was time consuming, but not difficult. The fringe has a deep v in the center. The front piece only had a small amount of fringe missing so I was able to just fill in the gaps and match the length to the the surrounding pieces but the back was very bare so to make sure the length was correct I traced the fringe on the front of the belt and used the tracing as a template to make the fringe for the back. I love the somewhat chaotic look of Bella fringe, and it actually makes it easier to string since the strands don't need to be exactly the length as the surrounding pieces, they only need to be a similar length. It has been a while since I have made non-swag fringe so I tried several ways of stringing before deciding on the quickest way. The first thing I tried was looping the thread back through the strand to tie it off, this was the method I used when I restored a gold bedlah a while back, but it is time consuming and not particularly easy. Then I tried tying each strand at the belt, stringing it and tying it off at the bottom. This worked fine but it was hard to get the knot at the bottom to be snug against the last bead so some strands had a little bit of thread showing at the top which looked funny. My boyfriend suggested I do the knot at the bottom first, string the strand and then tie it to the belt. This ended up being the fastest and easiest way. The fringe at the sides of the belt is straight for a portion before it begins lengthening for the v. I restored the straight sections first. Then I added a few strands right at the point of the v so I would be able to more easily follow the slope of the v. I then filled in the v on one side and then on the second side. By some miracle I ended up having enough beads for all the fringe even though I only bought one hank of each type. Thank goodness!
The bra straps are short and can only be worn as a halter. I find halters to be very uncomfortable so this will have to change before I can dance in it. The morning of the photoshoot I whipped together an extender to turn the straps into a Y back instead of a halter. It worked but didn't look as good. Since I didn't have time to mess with it until it was perfect I switched it back to a halter for the shoot. This will need further experimentation. I still like the Y back idea but I may just make new straps that are longer so it can be an x-back like the majority of my costumes.
The photoshoot was tons of fun! Paul is one of my absolute favorite photographers to work with. My friend Chaya and I split the shoot so that one of us could be getting photos done while the other was changing costumes. My student Serenity came with us as well, she is a hair and makeup stylist and always does a fantastic job (check out her facebook page here: ). I will get the photos back soon and post the results along with part 3 of the restoration. I forgot one of the armbands at home and it looked a little weird with just one so there are no armbands in the photos. I received the headpiece from Jericha and it looks amazing. She chose to make it with a yellow flower to bring out the gold highlights in the costume and made a centerpiece out of leftover beads and AB crystals from my stash and additional beads she choose to compliment. I used a golden yellow organza veil that looked great with the flower (the veil was a Bhuz purchase). I also ended up using the trumpet skirt that came with the Bella, it doesn't fit that well and is too short but with creative posing you can't tell.
More Work to be Done
I still need to make new wristlets and chiffon sleeves, reconfigure the bra, reline the belt (and sew back in the Bella tag I saved), try to refit the trumpet skirt, and buy some green jewelry. Photos coming soon!
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...