Half-forgotten, long unfinished


Have you ever noticed how we create stories, even about our own lives? There’s a couple of different stories I tell about how I started “really” sewing. Often, I talk about my desire for a winter coat with sleeves that were long enough, and how I decided, after hunting in vain for years, to make my own. And that’s a true story. But there’s another story about how I started “really” sewing, that is equally true. Or equally fictitious.

I got into bellydance when I was sixteen, and it was a hobby-verging-on-obsession for years. In fact, from the age of eighteen to, oh, around when I started blogging, the vast majority of my sewing (such as it was) was for bellydance costuming. The patterns were simple and often improvised; there was a lot of hand-work and not a lot of technique, if you will.

When we first moved away from my hometown, though, all of a sudden I was no longer part of a performing troupe. For a while I carried on, making costumes just because I wanted to, contenting myself with student classes and the occasional year-end recital. But at a certain point I found myself frustrated. I had nowhere to wear the things I was making, and it was hard to motivate myself to finish them as a result. This was a major motivation for wanting to “really learn to sew.”


This costume comes from around that time. It’s half finished, the main pieces mostly together but lacking the fine details that would make it really stunning. I stumbled upon it today in a box that hasn’t really been opened through my last two moves. The vest comes from the Folkwear “Turkish Dancer” pattern, while the bra is a recovered, storebought one. The blue fabric is a slippery poly velvet I bought at the thrift store yonks ago, and is the single most evil fabric I’ve ever sewn with. Everything you see here was hand-basted before being machine stitched, if the machine was involved at all. Most of the trim was applied by hand. I had visions of seed pearls scattered through the folds of the ruching. We’ll see.

For the moment, it’s getting carefully folded back in its box. I have twenty three other patterns vying for my headspace, after all. πŸ˜‰ And while we’re (slowly) getting settled in, my sewing stuff is mostly still in my mother-in-law’s basement. I found my dish-drainer today, though. That’s a victory.


(Oh, and these livingroom shots were taken back when I first made it—as much action as this costume has ever seen.)



Filed under Sewing

8 responses to “Half-forgotten, long unfinished

  1. Angela

    Ah.. look at that flat belly! I am envious… πŸ™‚

  2. Angela

    I meant to add in that I like the costume – hit send too quickly…

  3. Costume sewing is so fun…one of my children still puts a costume and spends the day in it, even though he is beyond dress up age. Perhaps we should do the same? Make Tuesdays Belly dance wear day?

    Great work on finding the dish-drainer….having moved twice in a year, I can appreciate your victory.

  4. There is something about boxes that are moved from house to house and remain unopened. The contents are either fascinating and/or useful or, well, not. This costume is definitely fascinating.

    Glad you made it through the move (so far) unscathed?

  5. LinB

    We finally just threw away some boxes that were first packed up when my husband and I started moving household — at least eight moves and 28-30 years ago.( If I haven’t needed what was in them in all that time, I probably never will.) It’s worth hanging onto that costume, if only to take it out of the box and remember your youth, every once in a while. Your readers are pulling for you during this move, so you can get back to sewing and storytelling again.

  6. That is a seriously cool costume! I really like the top, and the bottom looks so cool! I’ll have to sent the link to a friend of mine who belly dances. πŸ™‚ I’m also impressed that you did most of it by hand.

    I’ve never owned stuff beyond my clothes, bedding (and sometimes a bed), my textbooks and computer, sometimes a desk, and whatever knicknacks I can fit in a bedroom whenever I moved, so dealing with “where the heck is that damn ___” never really came up. And then when I wasn’t an undergrad moving every fall and spring, my apartments were filled up when I got them and then unfilled (usually to the local thrift shop/dumpster/kijiji) when I moved to a different province. I’d almost envy you, being able to own more than the basics and can move with it, except that after 6 years of moving every fall and spring, I HATE MOVING WITH ALL THE PASSION OF THE WORLD.

    Good luck settling in, and finding everything! πŸ˜€

  7. Sufiya

    I REALLY REALLY LIKE the design of that costume!That top has to be one of the sexiest ones I’ve ever seen , although I admit to liking the old-style coin-draped costumes the best, and beads and sequins, not so much! I have done some belly dancing back in the day; I actually danced with SNAKES. The costume i wore had to allow very little purchase for snake tails to work their way around straps and such and pull your costume half off when one least expected it!

  8. What a stunning costume! And I have to say, on a stunning woman. Belly dancing is such a delight, I will definitely take it up again sometime. It’s lovely to see your costume, thanks!

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