IMG_7959 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
I started belly dancing over a decade ago from VHS tapes of Nina and Vina, the belly dance twins. Over the years, I've dropped in on workshops and short-term classes but primarily worked from videos. I finally had the time and ability to take formal classes and found a tribal style teacher about 45 minutes from my place.
I'm going to be performing with that troupe for Club Belly Dance (http://www.bellydancesuperstars.com/club/) when it hits my city in a couple weeks and I needed a costume.
The teacher requested that we wear double-sided 25-yard skirts - black on the outside and any bright color we want on the underside - with a black bra decorated with silver accents. I am super under-employed right now and the thought of spending $120+ on a reversible skirt (or even more on two skirts) made me cringe.
After finding out that "tissue" weight cotton and even gauze is unavailable locally and ridiculously expensive, I hopped over to Joann's and bought a bolt of 36" bleached muslin with a coupon. Came to about $22, woohoo! Less than a dollar a yard. I cut the bolt in two 12.5 yard pieces and washed the fabric multiple times to get it as soft as possible and then went to town.
IMG_7949 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
Turns out iron 12.5 yards of fabric takes me about 2 hours. That sucked.
Then I spent too much time scribbling rectangles on scrap paper and doing math trying to figure out optimal yardage for my strips. I'm short, I wanted a 36" finished length. I did 5 tiers. I'm also lazy and didn't want to hem 25 yards so I ended up wasting a little fabric and cutting 4.5" wide strips the length of each selvedge edge for my bottom tier. The next two tiers were about 8" wide and each half as long as the tier before. The fourth tier was 9" wide and the fifth tier was something like 12" to make up for the turned-over waistband. The length, in inches, for each tier turned out to be:
1 - 900"
2 - 450"
3 - 225"
4 - 110"
5 - 54"
Then the ruffling. I decided to ruffle in straight lines and then sew up the back seam afterwards rather than try to fit it in loops - that is my best piece of advice, working on a trapezoid rather than a series of circles is far easier.
I would say thank god for ruffler foots but mine didn't quite work properly. I have a $20 universal foot from Amazon, rather than the $80 one that Viking sells for their machines. I've made less voluminous tiered skirts with it before without issue but this was way more ruffling than I've ever done. I calculated my ruffling factor using this tutorial: http://www.youcanmakethis.com/products/free/free-the-ruffler-unruffled.htm but I don't know if 12" vs. 900" was just too much to get an accurate count but I was way off every time. Thankfully, the ruffle was a little too long rather than too short so I ended up hand pinning each tier after ruffling it. The first two tiers were torturous due to the incredible length. I hated it. The vibrations from my machine and foot were also pulling my sewing machine around in weird ways. In fact, there is now a permanent groove in the part of my machine where the "C" arm of the foot hooks! I had a few temper tantrums during this process, took apart the needle shaft and bent some metal pieces back into place, and ended up wrapping electric tape around the part of the shaft that the arm hooks on to protect it. This was also torturous and hellish - for a while I thought I broke my machine.
I also went online to purchase dye from Dharma Trading and found out it would cost me over $30 to achieve a true black on this amount of fabric!! Forget that. Between the dying costs and the frustrations ruffling, I ended up buying a black skirt from Tribe Nawaar. It's totally gorgeous and I love it. Also gave me something to practice in for a week while I was still working on my initial skirt.
Once the Tribe Nawaar skirt came in, I quickly realized that 1.5 yards for the yoke was not enough fabric and that my upper thighs were actually going to be a bit restricted in movement. I fussed around with measurements and re-did my yoke tier with 3 pieces that ended up 80" at the bottom and 50" at the top. Enough for fullness without having it all end up gathered at my waist.
Using this tutorial: http://mac-aroni-n-cheese.blogspot.com/2009/12/tutorial-drawcord-elastic.html I attempted a drawcord elastic waistband for the first time. It turned out lumpy and messy. Thankfully, no one will ever see the waistband. EVER.
I dumped the skirt into my washer full of hot water and a bottle of liquid RIT dye in "wine" and let it do its thing. After going to check on it, I spent an hour unclogging the sink that my washer empties into and freaking out that purple dye water was going to flood the basement, I had a fully sewn, dyed 25 yd. skirt.
IMG_7958 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
IMG_7957 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
IMG_7956 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
Layered with the black skirt, tucked at hips:
IMG_7951 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
IMG_7950 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
My favorite tuck style - a bustle tuck! I will totally use this for steampunk goodness:
IMG_7952 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
IMG_7954 by parallaxreality, on Flickr
All in all..it was an adventure. I don't intend to do this again, although I'm not sure what I'll do with the other 12.5 yards. Maybe some pantaloons.
I'm still working on the bra and belt, and will probably make a turkish vest to go along. So expect more pictures in a few weeks!