Saturday, May 3, 2014

Beginning the Rose Gold Art Deco Costume

Here I go again, attempting to make myself another costume even though I still have a separate belt and bra in progress that I've abandoned for the time being, along with a peacock blue costume which needs some serious upgrades and modifications.I'm hoping this one will give me the confidence to complete my other, unfinished projects.

Shushanna's costume tutorials are a godsend, especially her videos on the process of making her own pieces. Watching these has really inspired me. One photo in particular of her gold filigree bedlah in progress really struck me as quite beautiful. In it, she shows her pinkish-peachish base fabric with gold rhinestone chain and crystals, and the color combination is just lovely. Shushanna ends up almost entirely concealing the base fabric, changing the look of the overall costume composition so the peach element is very minimal and gold predominates. She chose the base fabric to match her skin tone to help further the illusion of filigree, so at that stage of her progress, it was a nude and gold costume which really appealed to me.

My skin, although very pale, does lean toward the warm end of the spectrum so peaches and oranges are usually flattering on me. I spent some time doodling some design ideas and decided to go to the fabric store to find what I needed to get started.

Believe it or not, it was difficult to find a nice peachy fabric. The clearance remnants section was the only place I could find what I was looking for. I found a fabric with a nice sheen and iridescent effect where it appears gold from one angle and rosy peach from the other. Thankfully they had enough for a bra, belt, and some accessories. I also picked up an accent fabric in a contrasting texture. I wanted velvet but the closest I could find to the dark gold in my head was in a faux-suede. I later ordered some rayon velvet online that I'll be using instead. I also bought some lining fabric and the thickest Pellon interfacing they had.

I followed Shushanna's detailed instructions and laid out the design for the front and back of a two-piece belt. The back ended up requiring three small darts. She doesn't specifically mention using fusible interfacing, but I chose interfacing where one side was fusible so the outside fabric stays put when I start beading.

In this photo you can see the front and back sections of the belt after I've fused the fabric to the interfacing with an iron and damp cloth (the still wet sections of the back are darker which is why the back panel looks mottled in color). I wasn't anticipating the texture of the interfacing to show through, but it does as the fabric is rather thin. It actually gives it a pebbled look which you can see in the photo below.

I then pinned the seam allowances around the belt bases and sewed them down using a straight stitch. Then it was time to sew the darts in the back segment so it would cup my booty in a visually pleasing way. I was worried that part would be difficult, but my Sharpie marks were great guides. The back panel ended up looking a little pointy once I sewed he darts in, but I think once I bead over it they will soften up some. I tried on the belt at this point and everything fit just as it was supposed to.

Now comes the fun part. Unlike my previous attempts where I basically decided to just wing the design, this time I had the general composition and patterns laid out beforehand. I decided to do an Art Deco theme after being inspired by a lot of antique jewelry I've seen recently, and that involves a lot of strong geometry and symmetry, so a preconceived design is a must in this case. Still, making the overall designs using the crystals, brass stampings, pearls, and beads I acquired does require some extra groundwork. I'm starting with the front of the belt.

The Art Deco period coincided with the discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922, sparking the Egyptian Revival style. In homage to that and to the huge influence of Egyptian bellydance, I'm incorporating some ancient Egyptian-inspired elements like scarab beetles and ushabti figures.

The first time I laid out the design using an ushabti stamping in the center, but it wasn't quite what I wanted.

I know a large scarab will be the centerpiece for the back panel, so I decided to try one on the front also, and I like it much better. The elements below include some small tribal metal pieces, rhinestone chain, Swarovski crystals, and glass pearls. There will also be seed beads and sequins involved for extra sparkle.

At that point, I was still waiting to receive another shipment of beads I had ordered so I didn't want to actually get started securing things to the fabric. I'm going to use some slivers of soap to measure and mark out the general layout and then get to beading! Tomorrow is Spring Caravan so that will hopefully be a real motivator to get to work. Stay tuned for more progress and my design sketches.

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