Old School ATS belt and bra set, part 2: the making
Now 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. I 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.
The 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.
At 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.
The 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.