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. 😉 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.)