Saturday, December 11, 2010

New blog

Dear readers and fans,

I have recently revamped The new site now houses my blog. I have transferred all of these articles to the new blog and I will now be posting on that blog from now on. Please updates your feeds and bookmarks. The new blog can be found at:


Sunday, September 5, 2010

The chunky blue costume

Time for another costume post! I took this:

And made this:

Because this costume took an obscene amount of work, I'm not going to go through an entire tutorial like I have in the past. Instead, I'm linking to my Photobucket Album. Each photo is captioned with my notes. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"I'm learning to dye, but I ain't got wings"

As if I need another hobby!

I've recently started learning how to dye silk. Most belly dancers prefer to dance with silk veils and most of us can be downright picky about the size, weight, color and style of them.

During my veil class with Deirdre, it became clear that my veil collection wasn't up to snuff. I was using a performance veil and it snagged and now has a hole. Oh noes! So I needed to up my collection and Deirdre let us know that we could get simple, white practice veils for only $10 at Dharma Trading Co. And that just got me thinking...

You see I am cheap and I like to try new things. While I think veil vendors totally charge the right amount of money for their silks and I am happy to support their business, I just needed a few to play around with. But a boring white veil won't satisfy me.

So I dropped $90 buying 5 plain veils in different sizes, shapes and weights, in addition to a dyeing starter kit and extra colors. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but had a rough ideas of colors and costumes that needed matching.

I enlisted the help of Deirdre and Vashti of Madison, WI to help. I set off to the dollar store to buy all of my supplies and I was ready to go!

My partner won't let me dye in the house, so I was outside with a hose, some buckets and my stereo. I hula hooped while I was waiting around and I enjoyed the view of the lake and the lovely (and hot!) weather.

So here are the results from my first round:
1st attempt at low-H20 immersion
My first attempt at low-water immersion. This was supposed to be bright orange, fuchsia and yellow, but it didn't really work out that way. It's orange with some yellow splotches and I have since then tried to dye it a solid color. Did it work? No.

2nd attempt at low-H20 Immersion
Here's my second attempt at low water immersion and this turned out better, but it has some white spots from where the dye didn't penetrate. This is my favorite practice veil.

Not pictured: I made a bright red circular veil in a bucket, which I learned you can also do in a washing machine.

My second attempt yielded somewhat better results:
My first attempt at ombre dyeing and despite the fact the colors aren't deep enough, I am pleased with how these turned out. Now, I'd better learn double veil!

Washing machine
My first attempt at washing machine dyeing was success. The picture doesn't do this one justice, because this is a beautiful shade of gold in real life.

3rd attempt at low0H20 Immersion
Here's my third attempt at low-water immersion. I think I just need to find some suitable containers. Notice the big square blob in the center? Guess what shape my container was.

Lastly, I tried a new technique: Microwave dyeing! I defied the beau's preferences and dyed in the kitchen (and thanks to Vashti, I now know you can use Magic Erasers to clean up spills). I'm a rebel. ;)


I made this one to match my newly arrived Pharanoics butterfly, although I should have used less navy and more turquoise. I thought this project was super fun and I think it's just because I like being in the AC. I folded it in an elaborate accordion (and this is a 4-yarder) and placed it in a plastic shoe box and nuked it for like ever.

Read that last sentence again. Yeah, that's why I will never be a professional veil maker. I don't pay attention to details and I'm not good at being precise with measurements or timing or anything like that. This is also why I don't bake. However I can go to town on tedious beading, so go figure.

Veil and dyeing resources:
A good day to dye -
Shibori Borealis -
Akai Silks -
Paula Burch -

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Costume musings

A couple of weeks ago a dance friend commented about how I always keep track of costumes (i.e. what people wear to shows and who the designer is). I love costumes and costuming, especially of the belly dance variety, but I don't want people to think it is because I am superficial or because I like to play dress-up. That's just the way I am. I always have been.

I have a distinct memory when it comes to clothing. I remember what I was wearing at important key moments in my life (first kiss, first date, graduations, etc). Even as a child I loved my clothes and attached special meanings to everything. I made clothes and costumes for Barbies and played dress up a lot. I guess that's a teenager I read high fashion magazines (along with the junk magazines) and just love fabric, textures, jewelry, etc. It was a natural fit when I learned how to sew and make jewelry. I even briefly considered a career in fashion design, but I lack skills in precision and I hate the scene is totally not my thing. So yeah, this stuff has just been part of my world. The irony is that I do not dress fashionably at all. Never have, probably never will.

Then I found belly dancing where the costuming is just so fascinating and endless. I love it. When I was at the Mohamed Shahin workshop I honestly picked up and inspected the Eman Zaki's he had. Just so I could feel them, examine them, and know what they are like. If the actual dancing didn't make me so happy, I would start to think that I was in it just for the costuming. I can assure you I am not. BUT belly dance costuming will always have a special place in my heart. My need to create, touch, adhere meaning to clothing-like objects is enhanced where belly dancing is concerned. It is not about being superficial, artificial, judgmental or egotistical. I do not need pretty costumes to make myself feel better than others. In fact when I comment on a costume or buy one of my own, it is usually because I am responding to a visceral reaction...whether it be positive or negative...

I've been thinking a lot about my costume collection and what it consists of. I try to make strategic moves in how I fill my dance cabinet. I try to arrange things so that I am always selling one as a new one comes in (to make room and justify my habit). I also try to have enough different kinds to keep my interest: sleek/modern, solid bedlah, lavish/high end, hafla-wear, oriental dress, saidi dress, plus lots of options for mix and match. With each new costume I buy, I consider whether or not it will meet my needs, and most importantly, fit this buxom bod. Yes, I do make occasional impulse purchases, but they're generally items that will suit my needs and dance styles.

I recently bought a Pharaonics Butterfly costume, a very popular style, and it will be my 4th! Of course I am paying it off over time using my monthly income from teaching (and not my salary or credit!). I know Pharaonics are seen as generic and sometimes cheap, but I am so drawn to the styles. I don't worry about looking like a cliché, or like the rest of the other dancers. I've never had that overwhelming need to be one of a kind...I know that's because my dancing and my personality should speak for itself.

I also custom ordered a Hanan, directly from the source. This should take awhile and I wonder if I will ever get it. I picked Hanan because I think she makes great dresses for plus-sized women (giant cut-outs excluded). Oriental dresses are so hard to find, good ones that is, and I am picky and hard to fit on top of that. We'll see what my direct custom order turns out to look like in the end. It should be better than buying off the rack, but one can never know.

I am also craving an all-silver bedlah, for more versatility. I am trying my hardest to wait to purchase anything else until 2011, but I may falter on this one. I guess it depends on how many paying gigs I will get this year. I either want a Pharaonics like this or this (although that extra fringe on the side of the bra would have to go), custom ordering a Bella (yes, I said it), custom ordering from Dahab Designs, or perhaps making something of my own.

Of course my home-made and refurbished to-do pile has gotten large! I am still working on the chunky blue and gold refurb. Progress has slowed because I am doing something boring, beading the straps...After that will be my brown and pink, following that I hope to finish my pearl costume, and then the last is my gold costume (I only have fabric, no bling or beads yet). I also need to find time to make 4 double-layer chiffon skirts. I hope I get a serger for my birthday.

Yeah, so this whole costume business goes a lot deeper than just needing to look hot. Sure it's our official "uniform" and part of the job. But it's so much more than that. It's a hobby, it's an art, it's a passion and it's a dream fulfilled.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two and two makes new!

I've blogged about both of my handmade costumes here and I really like both of them. The first one was the sleek and simple pink and purple costume and the second was the stash buster.

For my hafla I wanted to wear something super easy to get in and out of because I would have to change costumes twice. That ruled out several things right away. I also wanted to wear something a little more casual, yet unique. I reached for my stash buster.

However, I was never really a fan of the bra on the stash buster...So I had to find an alternative. I tried it with some cholis and other top options and then I pulled out my pink and purple bra...Hmm, well the colors matched close enough and if I wore my pink overskirt (that I was wearing for other dances that night anyway) then it would pull it all together!

I love how the pairing works together. It's perfect for a community event or hafla and the whole thing is so comfy and lightweight! The coolest part: I made everything myself all the way from my hairpiece to my skirt!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My First Student Hafla

Yay, we did it! Last weekend I hosted my first student hafla! Now, I've helped plan lots of events before but this one was all me (well not really, because I had so much help).

All of the performers, students and professionals alike, were fantastic and the audience was so supportive. I want to especially thank my student troupe, the Nightingales (pictured above celebrating in our awesome handmade costumes), for all of their hard work preparing for the event. A video of my solo performance can be found here.

At the end of the night we raised $100 for the Triangle Belly Dance Scholarship Fund, which helps students in financial need pay for belly dance classes and workshops. To apply for the scholarship, visit

Oh and if anyone attended the event and has pictures to share, please let me know. I posted pictures from the event on Facebook.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Everyday beauty tip: Finally, a non-dance related blog!

A couple of weeks ago I bought a clearance dress from Target for $15. It's so cute and trendy that I decided I needed to wear cute shoes with it. Now, I've been on the unsuccessful hunt for cute boots all season and I have yet to find anything. So this morning while digging around in my closet for something other than my go-to Danskos, I rediscovered a pair of brown boots!

These boots are several years old but they are the kind that will never go out of style (well, I guess you can be the judge of that). I don't wear them often (I probably haven't worn them for three years) because they hurt my feet, especially my heels. Desperately wanting to wear them, I went searching for something to cushion my feet. I don't have any of those gel inserts, but alas! I remembered the inserts from my Brooks sneakers that I got last year.

When I bought my brooks, the salesperson at Fleet Fleet convinced me to buy the expensive inserts to go with them (and I am glad he did). However, that left me with the original inserts from the shoes. I pulled them out of the box and placed them in my boots. It fit! Now my boots are comfier and I'll probably wear them more often.

I should add, that this does make the boots smaller. I had some extra wiggle room in these boots, not to mention narrow feet, and now it is tad too tight on my right foot. However, it's better than it was before and I can now actually get more use out of these things!