Making your own Bellydance Costume

If you want look glamorous without spending out on a professional costume, then thereís always the option of making your own. It may sound like a big job, but these pages will show you some cheats and short cuts that the non-dressmaker can follow.

The Hip Scarf
The Bra Top
The Circle Skirt

The hip scarf

Firstly, there are some wonderful coin belts and hip scarves around at the moment. They range from around £20 to £50. Although It may still sound a lot, its nothing compared to the £150+ youíll have to pay out for a cabaret costume. A good hip scarf is the one thing I advise investing in. You can put it on over any skirt for lessons and it gives a wonderful sound as you move. You can also use it as the basis for your home made costume. I chose a lovely black one with gold and black iridescent beading which sounds and looks beautiful as it emphasises every movement. To get one of your own, check out some of the costume links on the links page.

Of course, you could attempt to make a hip scarf of your own. I havenít tried this yet, so no tips at the moment, but if you have tried it and you want to share your experience with us, please let me know by mailing Katja.

So, once youíve picked out your most glamorous hip scarf to base your costume on, you can start making the rest.

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The Bra Top

Well, the main reason I decided to attempt to make my own belly dance bra was that it is very difficult to find off the peg bras to fit. And, being slightly more buxom than average I really needed the support of a real bra, but didnít want the extra straps of wearing one underneath. So, I invested in a nicely shaped, supportive black bra to base my costume on.
There really is only one place I would recommend to get the bra, and that is Of course, if youíve not got quite as much to wobble, then you can buy bras anywhere!

If you can, have the bra fitted properly, an awful lot of women donít wear the right bra size and you donít want to wobble out of your costume!
A bit of padding in the bra is good, it gives the cup stiffness and helps to keep the shape as well as providing a bit more support.
Many dancers I have spoken to say that the bra shrinks as it is beaded and advise getting one size bigger to start with.

Decorating the Bra

Chose colours that complement your hip scarf, I chose black sequins with petrol coloured beads and gold sequins and beads for the detail. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose sequins that match the colour of the bra, it doesnít matter if you leave small gaps.

It is possible to buy wide strips of elasticated band that is ready decorated with sequins. This can be cut to size to cover the bra, which is a very quick and simple way of decorating it.

However, for a slightly more professional look it can be done by hand. Beware, this is not for the faint hearted!! It took me about 10 to 15 hours to cover the bra. But this isnít so bad, half an hour here and there adds up to quite a bit and you should be able to get it done in 2 to 3 weeks.

Step 1

Draw out a pattern on paper and cut it out. Using this as a template, pin it to the bra and stitch around the edge in a contrasting colour of thread. When you unpin the paper you should be left with a guideline for sewing on the sequins. Reverse the paper and repeat on the other cup.

Step 2

Start by sewing the sequins on following the outline in cotton. You can choose any method of sewing the sequins on, but this is the way I have found looks best, which I copied from a professional costume. Using ordinary cotton doubled up, pass the needle from the inside of the bra to the front at the place where the first sequin goes. Thread onto the needle one sequin (underside first), 4 or 5 beads (the number depends on the size of the sequins) and another sequin (topside first). Then pass the needle back through the bra next to the first hole. The two sequins should be touching with the beads linking them together.

Once youíve gone around the outline, fill in the pattern. Then cover the rest of the bra in the other colour of beads and sequins using the same method. Doing this will make sure your bra really catches the light and sparkles.


If you have smaller boobs that you want to emphasise, adding fringing to the cup is a great way of drawing attention to your assets! However, as mine draw enough attention of their own, I have kept the cup plain and simple. I have added fringing around the bottom of the bra to hide any wobbly bits and to give a bit of movement to it.

There is beaded fringing on sale in the shop, or fabric fringing can often be found in good material shops. Alternatively, you could use coins, which give a great sound. When sewing any fringing on it is important to remember that it won't stretch with the elastic in the bra. It is a good idea to get someone to pin it on for you while you're wearing it, or sew it on in loops.

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The Circle Skirt

Circle skirts are very easy to make and look great as you can get alot of movement from them.

Firstly, make sure you choose the right fabric. If your not into sewing try to stay away from "difficult" materials such as satin and chiffon. Lycra is a good choice as it will usually do without hemming, as will velour.
The skirt shown above is made from lycra.

Step 1

Measure the length you want your skirt to be. I wanted mine to be 42 inches or 106cm.
Then measure around your waist or hips, where ever you want to wear the skirt. Mine was 40 inches or 102cm.
Then, using the formula circumference = 2*Pi*radius, radius = 40/6 (ish) = 6.5 inches, or 17cm.
Add this to the lenth of the skirt, plus a couple of inches for the hemming and waist.
The total for my skirt was 53 inches or 135cm. This is the length, L.
For a half circle of material you will need 2*L length of material and 1*L for the width.
You will need atleast 2 half circles to make the skirt, the more half circles you use, the fuller your skirt will be.

Step 2

Fold the material of length 2L in half.

Step 3

Fold the material again to make a triangle, where the top side is the length L.

Step 4

Mark a curve on the material by measuring L from the corner of the triangle.
Cut along this curve

Step 5

Mark a curve on the material by measuring the radius of your hips (6.5 inches) from the corner of the triangle.
Cut along this curve

Step 6

You should end up with a semi-circular piece of material with a semi-circle cut out at the top.
You will need two of these to make the skirt.
Place one on top of the other with the good sides of the material together.
Sew along the straight edges of the semi-circles, joining the two pieces together.
If you want splits in the skirt you can leave this step out.

Step 7

If you want an elasticated waist on the skirt, fold over the top and sew along to make a tube big enough to fit the elastic.
Don't forget to leave a gap to thread the elastic through!
Put a safety pin through the elastic and thread into the tube, then sew the elastic ends together.

Step 8

If your fabric needs hemming, do it in the usual manner.
For an easy alternative, draw a line of coloured glitter-glue along the edge of the material
This will stop the material from freying when its dry and add some glamour to the skirt.
Below is a one and a half circle skirt (just add an extra half circle to make it really full) made in black chiffon.
It has a line of gold glitter glue around the bottom instead of hemming.
I've left the half circles not sewn together for slits up the sides of the skirt. (No hemming required as these are the edges of the material.) The skirt is tucked up to show off the gold and make a more fitted baladi skirt effect.

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