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Making Belly Dance Costumes

Nisha, with a great velvet gawahazee robe and belt.

Nisha, with a great velvet gawahazee robe and belt.

make YOUR ultimate belly dance outfit!

This page will help you find patterns, sewing tips and suggestions for making your own belly dance costume, including how to make tassels or how to sew on mirrors for your belly dancing belt. Not only is making your own dancewear a good way to save money, but it allows you to create the exact belly dance costume you picture in your mind.

There are also links to sites that sell ready-made belly dance costumes for those who want to embellish or only make part of their belly dance outfit.

Pattern Links - find just the pattern you need!

Making and Decorating Your Tassel Belt

Let Your Hips Ring with a Coin Scarf - the classic belly dance costume accessory

I've learned there are two types of dancers in the belly dance world: the ones who buy bags of accent coins and sew them onto hip scarves, and those who buy coin scarves from the people patient enough to sew them. For those of you who aren't into the sewing part, eBay can provide the finished scarf. For those of you into sewing, keep an eye out for bags of the loose coins, ready for you to sew onto whatever you wish!

Beautiful Accessories Don't Have to Break the Bank

Making a Panel Skirt

Making a Panel Skirt

Homemade Panel Skirt

My homemade panel skirt is a great example of how a fun and funky belly dance accessory can be created from thrift store finds and with a minimum of sewing skills! What you see here is the inside and outside waistband of my panel skirt.

The panels are from a table runner/fringed piece of cloth I found at the Goodwill for less than $1.

The waistband/hip ties are scrap fabric that was leftover from a pillow project my mom had sewn.

The silver dangles were earring/accents I found at a neighborhood jewelry store when they were having a clearance sale. Each packet of eight dangles cost me about $2.50.

The silk "yo-yos" were found at a street fair and were 12 for $10. I picked interesting blues, taupes and grays and improvised from there.

Altogether, that puts my materials costs somewhere in the $16-17 range. The waistband required that I know how to sew in a straight line and the dangles were sewn on by hand afterwards. Total construction time was maybe an hour, and I did the hand sewing while watching a couple of DVD movies at home.

How easy is that?! Keep an eye out for bits and pieces that you can assemble and it's very easy to make parts of your own dance costume very cheaply.

Construction and Sewing Tips These links are for construction and sewing, focusing on tops (choli), pants and skirts.

  • Learn to Dance - Learn to Sew
    Not long after I started belly dancing I discovered three fundamental principles of costuming: (i) costumes are expensive, (ii) no matter how high the quality, constant repairs to the beading and sequins is required, and (iii) some things (e.g. great
  • Sewing for belly dance | sewing and tailoring
    making belly dance costumes for the beginner.
  • Belly Dancing: Costume Corner
    Tons of how-to articles on Belly Dance costuming
  • frankencholi tutorial
    make a choli out of a fitted tee shirt - great for bellydance, yoga, or a summer day
  • TUTORIAL: Shirt into Peasant Shirt - a set on Flickr
    This top has adjustable sleeves and an adjustable top so that it can be worn for dance or any piratey/ren faire costume event. This top is created from a secondhand shirt. Depending upon the type of/size/fabric shirt you use your results may be diff
  • HSC Online - Indian textiles
    Shisha is the traditional name for mirror embroidery, as found in India and the Middle East. It was thought to help trap and/or ward off the "evil eye." Here are some great instructions for how to do Shisha.

Costume Sites - For those who would rather buy a belly dance costume

Here are links to ready-to-wear belly dance clothing and costumes. A very vibrant community of "one woman" sewing operations are thriving online and selling at regional events.

Costuming Tips and Comments

Belly Dance on September 03, 2014:

I make my belly covers using crushed velvet and a teeshirt you take the reality cut off the arms rip the side seams make a “U” shape where you’re bra will be then pin to fabric outline with chalk unpin put the two pieces of fabric rightside in and sew with a zigzag stich .

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on March 08, 2014:

What a fun costume, I have not sew anything in a long time.

Rae Schwarz (author) from Seattle, WA on December 30, 2013:

@salsa-dancing: Costuming takes as much effort as you want to out into it.

Salsa Dancing on December 30, 2013:

Seems like it takes a lot effort! But the results are very nice.

Rae Schwarz (author) from Seattle, WA on March 01, 2013:

@WeeCatCreations1: Just like belly dancing, sewing takes time and practice to master.

Susan Caplan McCarthy from Massachusetts, USA on March 01, 2013:

I tried to learn to sew specifically so I could make costuming. Alas, my sewing skills are too poor to create what I envision in my mind.

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on May 20, 2012:

I think the belts are so cool, especially. :)

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on April 07, 2012:

Belly dance costumes are great start into great party. Fun lens!

brynimagire on March 19, 2012:

Interesting information ! Wonderful lens !

anonymous on March 10, 2012:

Great lens, I'm also a belly dancer and I've made some belts and bra's for my self but this is really useful...I'll try to make some more with new ideas. Thank you!

Rae Schwarz (author) from Seattle, WA on February 04, 2012:

@anonymous: I'm looking... but so far I'm just finding nothing but links to that one missing page...

anonymous on February 04, 2012:

The frankencholi link is down. Does anyone have a link to it somewhere else?

dreadnaughtdarling on November 21, 2011:

Wonderful Page!

Kaylah Lena from Australia on November 18, 2011:

thank you for all the useful information and beautiful costume pictures :-)

JoyfulReviewer on October 18, 2011:

Great ideas and DIY information. Thanks for the fun costume lens.

GypsyLyric LM on September 20, 2011:

Okay, I know now how to make my outfit -- I only need to learn how to belly dance. :)

miaponzo on September 16, 2011:

Wow.. thanks for all these dance costume links and all this info! Great stuff :)

LouiseKirkpatrick from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom on August 12, 2011:

I don't dance myself - but I know someone who does! A superb resource - blessed by this Squid Angel as part of the "Back To School Bus Trip"!

manfield3 on July 26, 2011:

These look awesome..

anonymous on June 12, 2011:

@GioiaMulas LM: You can do it, you can even begin learning in the privacy of your own home! Check with your Public Library, see if they've got a Belly Dance DVD you can check out. I live in a very small town & even in "cowboy country", we've got some good ones. Also, a Bellydancer (5 yrs) & a Polynesian dancer (28 yrs); I can "secret" to moving your hips is in your knees, bend the knees! GOODLUCK! :)

Amy Fricano from WNY on April 16, 2011:

Delightful. Instructive. Thanks.

AdeleW on April 11, 2011:

Great, fun lens. I used to belly dance, it was a brilliant way to get fit

WorldVisionary on January 28, 2011:

This is such a fun lens! Belly dancing is really interesting to me! Blessed by a Squid Angel

dahlia369 on January 17, 2011:

Not something I would attempt but I definitely enjoy the final results. Nice lens!! :)

GioiaMulas LM on December 08, 2010:

I spell in front of the TV when I see dance belly dancing ... And 'magic and I would like to be able to learn, but I feel awkward and stiff as a stick: (

anonymous on November 08, 2010:

I've always wondered about learning to belly dance because I love the outfits and all dancing is good for us. You have great design ideas!

Rose4u on July 02, 2010:

Wonderful lens, i also enjoy belly dancing and dedicated one of me lenses to this dancing art. :)

inkedskin on March 31, 2009:

i think it would look more authentic if belly dancers sport some tribal tattoos. those costumes really looked awesome though.

beachbum_gabby on December 02, 2008:

Lovely outfit. very interesting to try.

Belindance on October 15, 2008:

Great len's about bellydancing costume design. Lot's of resources, I have a len's about bellydancing 101 so I favorited yours!

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