Beading vs. Embroidery

Munniko

New member
So I'm designing my first full costume because as I'm looking into pre-made costumes and it seems like the top isn't big enough or the bottom is going to be a fail either in height or just too big.

So I took my employee discount and bought a bra to use as a base and I've enrolled in a sewing class to perfect my skills before I attempt this. Which brings me to the bigger question.

I'm looking at the design I'm working on sketching out and I'm not sure if I should bead it or not.....so would it be taboo or frowned upon to embroider the design onto it? Would it look weird?

I'm already set for this to be a long and drawn out process because this is going to be my first attempt and at current I'm afraid of most modern sewing machines because they are too noisy.
 

gisela

Super Moderator
It's not taboo or frowned upon. Beading is just a lot more visible and sparklier than just embroidery. Beads and sequins catch the light much more effectively than sparkly thread and beads make the embroidered lines thicker. Raya who posts her costumes on Bhuz (and sometimes here) seems to use a combination of thread embroidery and beads.

Found a pic of what I was thinking of:
By Raya
 
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Shanazel

Super Moderator
I embroidered a purple crushed velvet bra and hip band in gold using gold cord and a couching technique. This shows up better tha using silk floss or smaller metallic passing thread.

Don't get me started writing about hand embroidery. It is one of the true passions of my life and I don't want to bore anyone silly.
 

PracticalDancer

New member
2 questions, if I may:

First, are you asking if it is ok to embroider directly on to the bra? (That is, without covering it)

Second, do you already know how to embroider, and can you do it on a rigid, oddly shaped, curved surface?
 

Munniko

New member
Gisela - thanks for the picture, I've been trying to look for references of cups that are closer up.

PractivalDancer - I was first planning to cover the bra with fabric and then embroider on top of it. I do know how to embroider, but I would have to test my ability to do things on a curved surface.

Shanazel - please do go on about it ^_^ I only know about Japanese style embroidery and I would love to hear about the other finer points to make my final decision.
 

PracticalDancer

New member
OK, good! The two biggest things that could trip you up are out of the way. :D

So (or, sew . . .) beading isn't really that much different than embroidery, when you get right down to it. The biggest difference is that you use fewer stitches to cover more area. So, (or, sew . . .) why are you leaning to embroidery?

This is asked purely out of curiosity, to see how other dancing designers think . . .
 

Munniko

New member
Well I was thinking of embroidering just for a more seamless gradient effect rather than beads, and to do a gradient it might be cheaper. Right now I'm thinking of drawing references from my kimono collection for designs.

Don't panic I don't mean super Japanese styled costumes, but like the color combinations and the motifs. Like right now I'm choosing between two that I own which one is a dark blue to peach gradient going up with gold, silver, and white cranes flying across it. Or my ultra flashy one which is mainly black with an ice blue phoenix with geometrical designs across the bottom.
 

Amulya

Moderator
2 questions, if I may:

First, are you asking if it is ok to embroider directly on to the bra? (That is, without covering it)

Second, do you already know how to embroider, and can you do it on a rigid, oddly shaped, curved surface?

I wouldn't do it directly on the bra, you would want the whole bra to look like it is of the same fabric, that's why covering it first is so important. Plus you can use the fabric to be part of the embroidery. For example if the is a patterns on the fabric, or if it's shiny fabric you could let bits shine through.
 

Dunyah

New member
Well I was thinking of embroidering just for a more seamless gradient effect rather than beads, and to do a gradient it might be cheaper. Right now I'm thinking of drawing references from my kimono collection for designs.

Don't panic I don't mean super Japanese styled costumes, but like the color combinations and the motifs. Like right now I'm choosing between two that I own which one is a dark blue to peach gradient going up with gold, silver, and white cranes flying across it. Or my ultra flashy one which is mainly black with an ice blue phoenix with geometrical designs across the bottom.
Just keep in mind that tiny stitches and fine details won't "read" at any distance. You need a design that audiences can see from a distance of 3 feet to 50 ft., depending on the venue.
 

Munniko

New member


Well one of them was going to be based off this one, I think I would have to figure out how to translate it into a good belly dance fit. Any suggestions on a safe place to pull ideas from or a good style that would fit if I made this costume i.e. bedlah set, baladi dress, gwahzee coat. I really have only really studied Egyptian style.
 

nitewindz

New member
That fabric is beautiful! Great color combo.

For bra & belt making I suggest getting a good reference book like Dina Lydia's Cabaret Costumes. She talks about design elements as well as explaining exactly how-to.

Dunyah makes an excellent point! Fine details disappear at a distance. I have a beautiful embroidered Indian skirt I wore for a parade. Up close it's gorgeous. But when I saw myself on the news I was so disappointed. The TV crew filmed from a distance, and the pretty gold embroidery on the bright pink faded into blurry mud.

Beading vs embroidery is largely personal choice. Where and how you plan to wear the costume may influence your choice.

Beads and sequins glitter and sparkle and shine. They are great for stage and dark clubs. Outside in bright sunlight, a super sequin costume and be a bit much.

Large, bold embroidery in bright colors will glow in bright sunlight, or on stage with stage lighting. In ordinary light or a dim restaurant, a costume with embroidery only will fade into the darkness.

Embroidery is an ancient art and so is more closely associated with ethnic or folkloric style costumes.

PracticalDancer is right, beading is basically embroidery except with beads. It's just as easy as embroidery. The only trick is to use good quality beads.

Traditionally, Islamic art does not depict people, animals, birds, etc. I've seen butterfly and floral motifs in belly dance costumes, but I can't recall any bird motifs. I do remember an article discussing the worst belly dance costume choices ever, that included a photo of a bedlah covered with starfish, crabs, etc.

The pretty bird means that this fabric would never be used for any sort of authentic Islamic garment. But I think this fabric would make a lovely "fakelore" or "ethnic inspired" coat, pantaloons, or dress. It would work nicely in a modern fusion costume. I would not expect to see a print like this in a cabaret costume, so that could be tricky to pull off.
 

Munniko

New member
Thanks for the feedback nitewindz. Especially about the venue part, since I don't ever really plan on dancing at restaurants or hookah bars I maybe safe with embroidery.

Actually the bird is an example of Japanese embroidery on top of what might be painted on detail on the bottom of one of my kimono. They are quite gorgeous which is why I was debating the embroidery in the first place and thanks for the tip I could research more middle eastern flower motifs and maybe a butterfly and maybe practice making temari with the ideas before I put them into practice.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Cranes are so linked to the Far East in my mind that I wouldn't use them for a Middle Eastern costume. That fabric is lovely, by the way.

Middle Eastern embroidery tends toward geometrics and florals.

Check out the following books for ideas. If you library doesn't have them you can probably get them through interlibrary loan.

The Art of Arabian Costume by Heather Colyer Ross

Flowers of SIlk and Gold by Sumru Belger Krody

Turkish Embroidery by Gulseren Ramazanoglu

The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing by Mary S. Parker

Embroidered Textles by Sheila Payne

Japanese shading is a beautiful technique but too subtle, I think, for a dance costume, especially if you are using silk. Couching heavy metallic cord (you can get it in all colors) makes a nice design, goes faster than beading, and is less expensive unless you opt for jap gold and/or silver which is genuine gold/silver wrapped around a core thread.
 
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AndreaSTL

New member
I'm not clear on if you want to duplicate this fabric or draw inspiration from it. If you are wanting to duplicate it I would have to agree with the others that it just wouldn't look right with that crane. Beautiful but not right. ;)

If you are wanting to use it as a reference, I'm inserting a picture with some areas for that. I figured it would be way easier than trying to explain which areas I'm talking about.
1. I've seen some costumes with this motif and they're quite nice. Usually the points are at the bottom with each being outlined in one color and filled in with another (not stripey), but if stripes are your thing go for it.
2. The whole thing done as a field of flowers would be beautiful.
3. This mixes the geometric and floral aspects nicely.
4. Pretty much the same as 1, but I like the fade.
5. Swirls!
 

Munniko

New member
Thank you so much AndreaSTL!! This was actually what I was asking for. People helping me figure out what I could actually draw inspiration from. I don't think I'd actually want to duplicate this design because it might look rather awkward if I did.

Yeah just wanting to use things I already own as references because I love the color combination and it is something I can look at and see how the pattern moves when it spins.
 
Beading vs. embroidery

The books Shanazel recommends are excellent. I've done an turkish coat with embroidery and used both beading and shisha work on it. It is heavily embroidered and for a cover up or a folkloric venue it is fine, for a cabaret look it wouldn't work. Then again that was the look and if you use metallic threads it would be wonderful. The checked pattern on your scarf would look wonderful embroidered especially with a bead at intersecting points as a background for some showy piece of beading. This is my opinion sometimes a heavily embroidered piece looks heavier than a heavily beaded piece. Which I think would limit the uses of the costume. Just some thoughts.
 

Tiziri

New member
That fabric is beautiful! Great color combo.

Traditionally, Islamic art does not depict people, animals, birds, etc. I've seen butterfly and floral motifs in belly dance costumes, but I can't recall any bird motifs. I do remember an article discussing the worst belly dance costume choices ever, that included a photo of a bedlah covered with starfish, crabs, etc.

The pretty bird means that this fabric would never be used for any sort of authentic Islamic garment. But I think this fabric would make a lovely "fakelore" or "ethnic inspired" coat, pantaloons, or dress. It would work nicely in a modern fusion costume. I would not expect to see a print like this in a cabaret costume, so that could be tricky to pull off.
Minor quibble: Birds aren't that uncommon in Islamic art, although they were more common in some areas than others. Birds as a theme show up in Islamic symbology (do you know the work the Conference of the Birds? It's Persian, which is one of the areas where they do show up commonly in art.) I've seen them in Ottoman designs too, usually with the floral designs. Other animals show up as well -- but it is often stylized. Then again, figural representation in classical Islamic art is not that rare a thing (recall that one of the Ottoman sultans, in the early Renaissance requested Italian artists to come to his court to paint his portrait) -- but I think one would really have to research patterns and motifs to get it just right.

I'm really only a dabbler, but got this idea of making a costume based on late-Ottoman era designs/Orientalist art/early photos of dancers. I wound up doing much of the decoration in embroidery (I got a lot of really helpful guidance; any aesthetic mistakes are solely my own.) I finished the top and haven't quite finished the belt; I really should be doing something right now that i'm procrastinating on, so am just going to give you the lousy photo I already posted elsewhere a long while back of the bra. I am pretty happy with how it has turned out, but it's still a work in progress. There's a Turkish-style jacket that goes with it, pants (decorated cream-colored hand-me-down shalwar I added elastic to), and a kind of beaded pseudo-entari thingy. It's really fakeloric, but I did try to look at how such things would be decorated in making my choices of materials (hence the funny Turkish lace.)

Since I'm not likely to perform in this on any large scale, the design really probably would work only in a smaller setting (the motifs on the belt are basically the same Topkapi-style flowers, only larger-scale). I added enough beading and crystals to it that it has a surprising amount of sparkle, although again probably not effective on a bigger scale. I'm actually pretty happy with it, but my expectations were and are very modest. Dunno what anyone else would think. I am such a crapulous photographer, though.

I did the embroidery before putting it on bra and belt form (then have done the beading, etc.) Seems to have worked well that way. The whole thing was just to see if I could, you know?

I think the advice everyone else has given is great; I also think that piece you posted is really beautiful and see why you're inspired by it! IA it works really well for you.
 
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AndreaSTL

New member
Glad I could help! Do you think you'll have it finished by this weekend? :shok: :lol:

Tiziri, that's pretty!
 
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