Sewing for belly dance

sewing and tailoring

Plan, plan, plan

Before you run out a buy a ton of stuff, see what you have around your house. 

Plan ahead.  Collect things.  Wait for them to go on sale.  Start a project book.  Take a small notepad, go to the fabric stores, staple on a sample of fabric and write the information on that page.  What it is, how much, how wide it is and where to get it.  When you get home tear out the pages, lay them out and let them inspire you.  Match up colors and fabrics you think will go well together.  Calculate the cost of a full costume this way and you won't get stuck with half a finished costume that you can't match the finishing pieces.

To make patterns with paper I like to use that old leftover roll of cheap chrismas wrap.  I then roll the finished pattern pieces back on the roll and secure them with a rubber band or scrunchie.  The wrap is durable, you can write on the plain side, wide enough, and remember the one that you could see the present through so you didn't use it?  That one is perfect!  And the roll is a convenient way to store your patterns safely. 

Go to the second hand stores.  You never know when you  are going to run into a stretch velvet dress, sequined vest or any other such findings for cheap.  Add a swirl and flash and voila...........their beaded nightmare has become a thing of beauty.

Check out the "faking it" part of this website.  Neato tricks to get the good results with little money and little time.

Forgive yourself if it is not perfect.  It is after all a COSTUME. 


Basic sewing terms

Bias  -  This refers to fabric cut on an angle, it makes the fabric stretch.  Try this, pull slightly on a square of non stretch fabric, side to side. No movement, right?  Now try pulling the same square corner to corner across the diagonal.  Stretches doesn't it.  Sewing on the bias requires some practice and technique to make it hang straight, but it is worth it.

Easing - technique to sew bias to straight grain cuts, curve to curve, stretch to non stretch , curve to straight.  You start by pinning top and bottom,  pin in the middle, keeping  slackness even between pins.  Pin the middles, top and bottom, then pin those middles.  When sewing manipulate the fabric so the fabric edges match and the fabric meets flatly at the stitching line.  You will find one side curling up and one staying more flat, but as long as it is flat where the stitches are actually going in it will be fine.  You can use a guiding stitch  on the flat part and make little cuts in the seam allowance to help you fit these together.

Straight grain - All fabric has a cross weave and a length weave.  The grain lines on a pattern means that line should be parallell with the edge of the fabric.  Use a measuring tape to measure the distance of the line from top to side, bottom to side , and just to make sure, the middle to the side.  A good cut always makes sewing easier.

Locking stitches - all stitches are locked unless told not to.  This means at the beginning and end of a stitch line you back up and sew a couple of stitches a couple of times to make sure the ends are secure.

Seam allowance - Always stitch 1/2 inch from edge unless told not to.  This 1/2 in edge inside the garment is called seam allowance.  Always secure with serging or zig zag stitch to prevent fraying.

Hem allowance - this is the extra amount you leave on the bottom of a garment to turn up for a hem.

Guiding stitch - This is the beginners best friend.  Try sewing a line, without locking in the largest stitch your machine can make.  You can use this line to show you where to hem on 1/2 in hankerchief hem, to help with easing by showing you how far you can make little snips to help the flat side fit the curly side, and many other uses.  When you are finished remove the guiding stitch by picking and pulling.

Hankerchief hem - If you have a serger you can roll hem, serge and turn once hem.  If not this is really good  for finishing chiffon.  You usually use 1/2 inch.  Using the iron press down 1/4 in, then turn this 1/4 over once again and press again.  Stitch on the roll of the edge 1/4 in.  If you find it hard, or if you are doing it on a curve (circle skirt) use a guiding stitch first.  Sew the largest stitch, without locking at 1/2 inch.   Double roll and stitch the edge of the roll.

Coffee filter - Use this when you find your machine pulling the fabric down into the machine.  Make sure you have a new needle.  Then place coffee filter under your work , stitch through the works.  It will support the piece you are working on and tear away easily when you are finished.  .

Panel - pieces that are the same and repeated.  Mermaid inserts are panels, half circles to make circle skirt are panels.

Topstitch - This is a stitch sewed through all thicknesses , on the outside, usually 1/4 inch away from the seam.  It is used to make a seam stable and strong.  . The two parts of the seam allowance is sewed down flat through the garment.  Your jeans are topstitched.



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