Resources for Belly Dance Costume Making
So you want to make your own costume - where do you start? You won't find patterns for belly dance outfits in a Simplicity or McCall's pattern book - or you might, but they're likely to be for fancy dress, not for serious dancing. That means tops, vests and skirts will likely be too tight to dance in. I remember making a "choli top" that shot up over my boobs every time I lifted my arm!
Luckily there are more and more resources available, I've listed my favourites below.
Shushanna.com - my absolute favourite resource for DIY costume-making instructions. No one has a better belly dance bra tutorial than Shushanna! She also has several wonderful tips on how to alter shop-bought bras to fit, something most dancers need to do.
She's the ideal person to offer advice on belly dance costuming, because not only is she a bellydancer herself, but she's also degree qualified in fashion design. Bedlah, Baubles and Beads gives an interesting insight into the history of belly dance costume design, plus comprehensive instructions to create your own beaded bedlah.
Atirah's Fashions - For those who prefer to work with patterns, here they are (on Amazon again)! Be warned, they are designed for people who know how to sew, as you need to be able to adjust the pattern to your own measurements.
Sparkly Belly - if you prefer to get your instruction on video, you'll find several clips on Sparkly Belly's Youtube channel to inspire you.
Tip - if you don't want to sew!
If you don't want to make your whole costume from scratch, L Rose Designs makes elegant skirts and tops in plain velvets and lycras, which are ideal as a costume base for you to decorate.
Tip - if you don't want to bead!
It's one thing to cut and sew the material into a costume - the major work is in the embellishment. If the thought of hours of beading scares you, then let fashion be your savior - because the modern trend in Egypt is to cut down on the beading, and use a patterned or luxury fabric. If you watched the SparklyBelly video, you'll notice that Mao used a retro print on one of her bras, and that's not unusual.
There are several other options if you take a good look in your local fabric store. A skirt made in holographic material, like the one below, doesn't need any crystals or beads - I made a belt out of some ankle and wrist bands from a set I never wear, and that was all it needed. Animal prints are a good choice, too. You can often find patterned velvet material like the red, silver-filigreed velvet used to make this sweet bra. It would take only a little more work to add a few sequins to highlight the tiny flowers, and it would be perfect!