Old School ATS belt and bra set, part 1: the gathering

I’ve been accumulating bits and bobs for tribal since I started dancing, and finally I’ve got everything I need. I am attending an ATS residential in January, there’s the chance of performing, and I wanted something 100% neutral so I could keep as a staple regardless of colours for cholis/skirts. Which trust me, was a difficult thing to do, considering that most tribal belts and pieces come with a rather colourful mix including, very often, complementary colours (red and green seems to be a favourite). But since my skirts so far range from sea green to purple to red, I wanted something I could use with ANYTHING, and so it had to be purely black/white/silver. And the reason I am calling it “old school ATS” is because I wanted to go as close as I could to the typical tribal belts I’ve seen online and up close, with plenty of ethnic pieces to give the right vibe, and trying to ignore as much as I can my usual penchant for using pieces outside the box.

I’ve already done the bases. The belt is fairly standard, this time it’ll be a single piece. I’ve used a double layer of calico and demin to give it strength and sturdiness and prevent stretching; I didn’t make the ends meet at the centre but opted instead to finish them off around my hipbones, to add big banjara mirrors as accents on the ends. I will be using grey and black cord to create ties, and finishing them off with dark grey and silver tassels. The bra is already half covered, I’ll make it with cross-straps again as that gives me the best support, although I haven’t decided yet whether it’ll be tied as the teal one or hooked as the black and red one.

Current plan is to machine-stitch the braid and trim to the belt, and then sit down with everything over several nights and attach all the more difficult bits and pieces. I just hope it doesn’t end being too heavy for the cord I chose.

The leftovers -and there will be leftovers- are currently planned for a short (3/4 length) Ghawazee cover up in a similar theme: black crushed velvet, with silver accents, so I can use over any of my costumes.

In the photo, from top left, clockwise in a spiral:
cotton velvet-covered bra (just cups so far), Turkomen dangle buttons, silver and black braid, silver and black Turkish trim, shisha mirrors, mini-dome Turkomen buttons, hand-beaded WIP trim for edges, round metal trinkets, black cotton velvet belt base (barely visible, it is *that* dark!), rectangular metal trinkets, big banjara mirrors.

Costume bits and bobs

Costume bits and bobs

Teal Belt, part 2: belt

Finished teal belt, showing the medallions for the front, and the decoration for the back

Finished teal belt

Much as I’d like to be verbose, and do a huge post detailing step by step what I was doing, the truth is, I pretty much followed the same steps outlined in my Tribal Belt post, here http://curvy-hips.com/?p=241 With some modifications, which I’ll outline below

  • shape: instead of having a deep V at the front, and the front and back cut equally, I made the front piece go from hipbone to hipbone, to account for the medallions, and be straight; the back piece was made with a slight curve to account for my hips, so it looks a bit like a dipped front. I am still using that first pattern I obtained ages ago, just chopping in different parts to get the shape/effect I want.
  • materials: as I suspect the very first belt I made using denim might be stretching, this time I made the base using a double layer of denim and calico, to provide extra strength and support for all the metal trinkets. I did rolled hems with the serger on each piece to make sure it didn’t fray.
  • eyelets: this time I left plenty of room for them, and laid out the panels to take the lacing area into account; next time I should try to take the eyelets closer to the bones
  • bones: I am still using cable ties
  • bones bling: I decided to use some Preciosa Czech crystals to add some extra bling to the back, and to that effect, I glued them onto small bronze flowers and sewed them over the boning channels; the ones in the front by the medallions are there to carry the motif onto the front panel
  • medallions: I described the process for these in detail here: http://curvy-hips.com/?p=1361
  • beading: same as described in the bra tutorial http://curvy-hips.com/?p=839
  • drapes: the drapes are not shown on the photos, but are similar to the stomach drape covered in the beading progress http://curvy-hips.com/?p=887  and are, of course, detachable; I am toying with the idea of stringing bells on a cord and make those detachable too, in case I want something a bit more ethnic and a bit less fusion/tribaret, although right now, with the amount of bling the belt has, I’m afraid it’s a bit too late for that

So, what’s left to do? A mermaid skirt in teal stretch velvet, although I will be using a different material this time. And hopefully I will also be able to use this set as part of an ATS costume, with purple and teal skirts and the white lace choli that I made back in May and haven’t photographed yet.

Teal Finished set

Teal Finished set

Inspiration: Sera Solstice

Yes, I do have a very soft spot for Sera, mostly because I have loved every single video of her I’ve seen, and because she has a great technique. Sera Solstice will be teaching at Tribal Remix in Brighton, and I am finally going to be able to take her ITS workshop, which I missed nearly three years ago at Gothla.

For more details about Sera’s workshops at Tribal Remix, head over to the website

Review: Aromaleigh Mineral Make-up

Aromaleigh's Eye shadowI don’t often review make-up because I am a creature of habit, and I am rather settled in what I use, so there’s little “new”. Of course I could write about what I’ve chosen to use and why, but mostly, I just forget. Not this time. I was introduced to Aromaleigh, a mineral make-up company, a few years ago, and immediately loved the aesthetics they offered. I was new to mineral make-up and also new to applying pigments, and slowly, with the help of the people in the community, I became quite better about the treatment I gave my skin, and far more adventurous with make-up. And when I started dancing, I came armed with a bit more knowledge, a good set of brushes accumulated over the years, and a penchant for the dramatic.

There are two types products of Aromaleigh that I use the most, the first being their finishing powders. I am not a fan of foundation, they almost invariable oxidise on my face, so I was after something that I could use to add just a layer of “barely there” correction. Their “Glamoured” finishing powder fits the bill, being what other brands present as “mineral veil”; they have light diffusing particles that make your skin look a lot smoother, and if you have, like me, one of those difficult tones, it can help you give a unified, radiant skintone, It looks fantastic on photos, it doesn’t run when performing, and these days I wouldn’t use anything else. I normally use it as a final cover, and finish setting it with a couple of pumps of Lush’s Aqua Roma (lavender and rose water).

If you are after something that finishes and corrects but without the extra ethereal soft focus look, their Coquille product is the ticket. Both it and Glamoured come in different colours, and of course if you have specific areas that need different correction, the beauty of the minerals pigments is that you can do a mix or apply differently to get what you need. And if what you want is some sparkle, their Laluna powders will do the trick. Unlike most body glitter, which has a definite golden or bronzing base, or big and harsh glitter, Laluna comes in a very fine powder in a pale base with white/silvery sparkle, and in different size glitter, so you can go for a “barely there” illumination to your nose, chin and forehead, or an all out for arms, collarbones or wherever else you want.

Aromaleigh's Eye shadows 2The second product I use of theirs is eye shadow. Aromaleigh’s range of colours and finishes is FANTASTIC, there’s something for everybody, and even more, they regularly release limited collections inspired by a central theme. The previous ones include Ancient Egypt, which has a rich deep gold colour (Bast) which you just HAVE to have if you’re a belly dancer, one inspired in the BBC Sherlock Holmes series called Brilliant Deductions, and the latest inspired by The Hunger Games, called “Ever in Your Favor”. The pigments are very finely milled and stay on without creasing or dropping, which is a problem I’ve found with a lot of the cheaper drugstore pigments out there (Barry M, I’m looking at you!)

Aromaleigh's Ever in Your Favor “Ever in your Favor” appears to be another brilliant collection, with bright, bold colours along rich deep ones. You can take a closer look at the collection here http://www.aromaleigh.com/hungergames.html, along with swatches and close-ups. Their swatches are accurate, although how the colours will look on you will depend a lot on whether you use primer, your brushes and application technique, and your underlying skin-tone.

The little jars last forever, although you can just order samples, which are enough to test a colour, or have if you can’t see yourself using it that much. Shipping to the UK is reasonable, but only cost-effective if you place a big-ish order, so if you want to just give it a try, get together with friends who also want to try it. Every single time my make-up has been praised, it’s been a either pure Aromaleigh, or a mix of Aromaleigh with Illamasqua, so if you’re looking at building up your make-up bag, it would be well worth a try.

What I am using in the photos: on the eye, two colours from their Brilliant Deductions collection, called “Recreational Scolding” and “Surveillance Status”, and one from a previous collection called Tutu. Sleek’s Ink Pot gel eyeliner, Illamasqua’s Vow eyeliner in the waterline, Illamasqua’s Eyebrow Cake in Thunder, and L’óreal’s False Lash Architect mascara. My face has Garnier’s 5 sec Perfect Blur and Aromaleigh’s Glamoured in Triteleia.

Crochet a simple hip shawl

flowers shawl close-up

flowers shawl close-up

I wanted a light, neutral hip shawl to use with my ATS costumes, and preferably to pair with the white flouncy sleeves choli I made over the summer. Problem is, while I did manage to find a cheap, pre-loved one in ivory, it’s not quite flattering and, like most Chinese shawls, it’s too small, breaks easily as it’s got very thin strands creating the shapes instead of thicker knitted sections, and the tassels are not quite fluffy enough for my liking. I am also trying to put together a costume 100% made my myself, so I decided to try making my own.

I’ve posted about crochet before, when talking about zill mufflers. Again, I am not intending to teach anybody how to crochet, but wanted to share how simple I found the process. I picked a nice cotton blend, very fine ribbon yarn, wrapped with silver lurex; this gives it a lovely soft metallic sheen without making it overwhelming, and I thought it would work really well. I bought a cone off ebay, with plenty for several proyects, so I am expecting I’ll use this yarn for quite a while yet!

beads shawl close-up

beads shawl close-up

The first one, I decided on a width enough to sit comfortably around my hips plus a foot longer for the ties, then did two rows using double crochets, I cut the thread and knotted, then wove the remaining thread within the “ribbon” I’d crocheted. I then re-started the crochet, at the point where the shawl itself would start (so about half a feet into the top), and doing arches of 20 chains, leave a few underneath, another 20 chains, etc, with the idea of creating arches. When I reached the end, instead of restarting from the same point, I did single crochets over half of the bottom arch, then restarted the arches again from the middle of the bottom one, and hooking it on the middle of the next one, so I could create, row by row, a triangle. The arches would, once they had some weight attached, deformed into diamonds. Once the back reached a suitable length, I added an edge with a single row of double crochets all along the edges. To finish it off, I made quick tassels using the same yarn wrapped 5 times around a slim dvd case, then cut the bottom, looped through the finishing edge with a lark’s head, put a kuchi bead and then knotted the tassel after that. And finally, I sewed a silver flower bead through every other junction to create a sort of diamond patter… Check the photo of the flower shawl at the top of this post to see the finished product.

For the second shawl, I wanted things a bit more regular. I didn’t like how the top looked on my first one, and I noticed the diamonds were not always as regular as I’d like them to be. I realised that knitting 20 chains would not always give me the exact same length, as I was working with a hook that was a bit too thick for the yarn, so I went, instead, for measuring length. I started cutting about 30 very long strands and braiding them tightly, to use as the waistband. I used the same measurement as the previous shawl. After that was done and both edges were tied and the ends evened out, I started the arches, this time doing 30 chains first and then measuring the following ones so that the length of each would be the same, and making sure that the space I left in between each anchor point for these first arches would be identical. For the second row, I wanted to introduce some beading, but this time, instead of sewing as I did before -it had been painful- I decided to first string several beads into the yarn I was knitting, and then crochet through these and position as necessary… in my case, I crocheted normally until I wanted to position one of the beads, and when it came to that, I slid the bead to the back of my next crochet, then just did a standard crochet with the bead at the back, and the final loop securing it in place.

beads shawl

beads shawl

The diamonds in this one are a bit bigger, but the methodology was pretty much the same. The only other difference is that this time, instead of doing half-crochets all the way up the first arch of row, I just knotted the thread a the end of each row, and started next where it should go. This allowed me a much finer overall look, and was also useful to thread the beads only for the rows that needed them. I stopped once the shawl reached a length I was happy with; I finished it off with just one row of single crochets, and this time, I made the tassels longer and thicker, with 10 turns over two stacked standard dvd boxes, and 20 turns for the tie tassels. These I also tied more firmly, to anchor the tassels properly. The effect is a far lighter shawl but with bigger, fluffier tassels that move very well while dancing.

Now if only I could find more mixed yarn like this, in other colours!

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