Review: Shimmy Sista’s Shrug

Shimmy Sista Shrug

Shimmy Sista Shrug

I’ve heard plenty of good things about ShimmySista, but since they are based in the US, I didn’t want to order, to avoid expensive shipping and risk being stung by Royal Mail with huge taxes. Luckily, someone I know in the US did order one, and found it a *little* big, and knowing her personally, I knew it would work for me. I purchased it new from her and shipped it reasonably, and didn’t get any taxes on it.

The shrug is an interesting shape, as you can see in the photo. It is a touch big on me and I will need to reduce the bottom, but that doesn’t make it fit too bad. The cut frames the bust beautifully too. The material is good stretch cotton, seams are all overlocked properly with a 5-thread serging and a healthy seam allowance (no hair-thin seams here!), and the finishing on the open edges is an overlocked rolled hem that creates a teensy bit of a lettuce effect on the stretch. The only thing I would suggest is that it requires a wash before first use… I wore it straight into my ATS class, and when I inevitably removed it halfway through, I had black fluff all over my armpits and inner elbows, which wasn’t attractive.

This is a shrug that might not work for all styles, but if you wear standard tank-tops and want something to cover up for class, it should be really useful. And the asking price is more than fair. I am just sad it doesn’t come in any other colours or options… a black mesh or stretch lace version would be quite useful and pretty, and I wish there was a clubbing version made with something more interesting or textured, like irregular big hole stretch mesh, to combine when I go to gigs or the like.

So if you’ve been eyeing these, give them a try! I’ve found I am not using mine as much for actual class but it’s a great way of covering up to wear before or after, and I’m pretty sure it should be quite cool over a decorated bra and paired with cotton tribal trousers or the new FCBD Bessie skirt for a light summer costume.

You can purchase the Shrug at Shimmy Sista’s store, here http://www.shimmysista.com/shrug.htm

Addendum: On Thursday, I came back from class, went to remove the shrug, and one of my nails -which aren’t sharp, and are maybe a couple of millimetres long, so pretty tame as far as talons go- went through the stretching fabric, just like that. I am *not* happy about it, but there’s nothing I can do other than fix the tear. It’s the first time I ever have something like this happen with a piece of clothing, and suggests to me that the fabric in the area was a bit too thin, which is ironic seeing that it was very close to the area where I was thinking of taking it in as it was too loose. Anyway, in the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to mention this. And I think that I will re-evaluate any future purchases.

New utility page: Circle Skirt calculation

Just been using this circle skirt calculation script for myself on and off, and I decided to add it to the website. Basically, it’s a small script that allows you to enter your waist, the length of the skirt you want in centimetres, and the amount of panels you want to use for the skirt, and it will give you a calculation of how big you need the inner and outer radius of your semi-circle panel to be. Or for those not math-inclined, the translation: how big the “hole” in the middle needs to be to accommodate your waist, and how big the semi-circle needs to be, using the amount of panels you want to use.

The script calculates things on the fly and does not collect any data, so I will not see anything you enter.
Hope you find it useful!

circle-skirts-calculation

Black and Silver Old School ATS bra and belt, Mermaid Skirts and Cholis

Black fusion costume

Black fusion costume

Last week we had a belly dancers party night at the local restaurant, and that usually means showing off whatever I’ve just finished. This time it was doubly interesting, as my friend L was wearing a chocolate mermaid skirt and off-the-shoulder-choli that I made for her, and I was using my Old School ATS bra and belt, and the black velvet mermaid skirt for the first time. My friend didn’t want to bother with a body-stocking, so went with a cami under her choli, and finished it all with her belt. I used a bodystocking and bolero from BellyStockings.com.

The off-the-shoulder-choli was made simply by removing a bit off piece B and D on the FCBD pattern, to create the “strap” look, and not stitching the top part of the sleeve piece, although depending on your shape, you might need to take some of this in, or adapt it. As usual with this pattern, YMMV and always do a test run to make sure everything is looking the way you want it to look.

Chocolate Velvet Costume

Chocolate Velvet Costume

I’ve mentioned before that the mermaid skirts, when cut properly and carefully, allow to make a full choli with leftover fabric. Three metres of stretch velvet was enough to do both pieces, I marked both patterns before cutting to make sure pile and fabric stretch would be the way it needed to be. I’ve made a similar one in black for myself to match the skirt and to go with ATS costumes. Both cholis include the extra wide back piece D to cover up bra straps, and a “tube” to go over the bra band for a neater look, although mine will be finished with more of a sweatheart cut, as I think it favours me better than the V neck. I hope I can get photos wearing it next week during the ATS residential.

Click on any of the photos to see a bigger version, and please excuse de decapitated photos, as I wanted to preserve my friend’s anonymity.

Finished teal costume

Finished Teal Costume

Finished Teal Costume

Last weekend I attended Orient Expressions’ Hafla, and managed to secure a performance spot. I’ll go over the performance on a separate post, with a video included and notes on the choreography, but right now I wanted to show off the finished teal costume. Click on the photo on the left for a bigger image.

I created a mermaid skirt in teal stretch velvet using the method/pattern outlined here, and although this time the bottom part is fuller, there’s still no real train (mental note for the future: raise the front, but leave the back train). The skirt used 3 metres of fabric, and the leftover scraps gave just enough fabric for a matching short-sleeved choli, which should come handy if I use my sea green Devadasi Designs skirt, or if I want a slightly more covered look.

You can also see how the Czech crystal hip drapes worked on the belt and bra. There was a small malfunction of one of the drapes when the link attaching them to the belt burst open; I’ll have to replace them with a double-ring.

The whole costume was tied together with the help of this bolero from Belly Dancing Direct (review coming up!), and one of their body stockings, although I am thinking of getting a long sleeved underbust bodystocking to use next time with this and a couple of other costumes I’ve done or I’m making.

Overall, I am extremely pleased, and my only regret right now is that I didn’t step out of my comfort zone with the decoration enough to take it to the next level. I would still love something in peacock colours, and might just have to approach it again from a different angle after I’m done with the projects list. What do you think?

Old School ATS belt and bra set, part 2: the making

Silver and black bra Work in progressNow that I had all the bits together, it was time to start assembling. I first decided on a set decoration pattern to use for both bra and belt, using the braided black and silver trim for the top edges, followed by the rectangular Kuchi trinkets, then the Turkomen dangling buttons. It took a while to decide how to arrange those as they were not all the same, but in the end I settled on an 8-small-1-big pattern for the belt, and all jewelled ones for the bra. Silver and black bra close-upI flattened the few mangled trinkets using pliers, and for the bra, removed all the original stones and replaced them with AB Swarovskis in Cobalt and Siam to add more sparkle. The Turkomen buttons have the loops inside the domes and are rather difficult to attach directly, so I opted for stringing them on a double rattail cord before attaching the cord itself to the pieces.

Silver and black belt detailThe process was simplesimple but laborious, using extra-strong Gutterman thread. It didn’t help that I run out of the special thread after just finishing the first cup of the bra, and had to wait a few days to get more. Since both items had the same design, the process was roughly the same for both. The braid consists of 9 separate strands, so to keep it attached properly I had to sew it by hand, making sure top and bottom loops were sewn, and that the stitch also secured the strands passing under the top strand. On the belt, I sewed the trim using the machine, but on the bra cups, I had to do it by hand, in both cases making sure I kept to the very edge of the trim to avoid obscuring the silver design. Then added the rectangle metal trinkets. After these, I attached the 4-strand braided cord to each end of the belt, making sure it was firmly in place by stitching both sides of the cord for each loop, to prevent it from breaking off, as the final result would have quite a bit of weight. Then I added the Banjara mirrors to each end, and continue on adding the threaded Turkomen buttons to each piece, with a spiral stitch holding the cords in place and limiting the sideways movement of the buttons.

SIlver and black belt, ends close-upAt this point, I focused entirely on the belt. I lined the inside with a piece of black polycotton broderie anglaise, then picked a couple of tassels, sewed them to the fastening cords, and finished it all off with some Moroccan Mozumas to add a bit of extra metallic sparkle to it. But I still had 8 tassels left, so I used the leftover rattail to make another 4-stand braid, then knotted the tassels with their long cord, and sewed them in place, then added two small bits of cord to the inside of the belt to knot this tassel cord in place. This way, I can use it or remove it as needed.

Silver and black belt and bra, work in progressThe cost of the whole set came roughly to £60, but needed 40+ hours of work. Nearly all of the metal trinkets came from Birgiss Bellywear, the lovely trim was bought from Grand Bazaar, a Turkish manufacturer via Ebay, and the rattail, braid and cord were also eBay finds. Considering a typical “vintage Kuchi belt” at several places starts at £30 or so, and with my hips I’d need two of them to assemble something with the coverage of this one, and would still require all the work, I don’t think it was that bad. Even less when taking into account that bra cups are exactly to my measures and with the right support, straps won’t dig into my shoulders, and back band fits perfectly too. And it means that now I’ve got a rather “traditional” ATS set that I can wear with all my skirts, without worrying that the trim or stones or base colour of the belt will clash with any of colours of my wardrobe. Granted, I’ve removed all of the colour that the belts can add, replacing it with an abundance of sparkle and metallic detail, but my skirts are all rather intense colours anyway.

I am, overall, extremely pleased with the results, and I can’t wait to wear the lot. I hope I can take some photos with a full set soon enough, my idea is to use these two with black and white loons, layered sea-green and purple 25-yarders, the ivory and silver flowers shawl I crocheted a few weeks ago, and the purple stretch velvet choli I made and wore for the ATS World Wide Flash Mob. And of course I can’t wait to see how it will look with a mermaid skirt, or some ruffled or tribal dance trousers. SIlver and black belt, finished

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