Kate Swanson is an Australian writer and dancer with nearly 40 years' experience in ballet, jazz, flamenco, ballroom, Latin and bellydance.
Bellydancers often look at the price of belly dance veils and think, "It's only a rectangle of fabric, why should I pay that price - I'll make my own!" - but please, take into account the effort needed to complete it. Cutting the right size takes only a few minutes, but the hem will take many hours of sewing if you have to hand-sew, and is fiddly work even on a sewing machine. If you want to add a trim or sequins, it will take even longer!
That said, making your own means you get a veil that's perfect for your height and reach.
Originally veils were made of silk, but sheer silk (silk chiffon) is an expensive option - and even more so if you make a mistake while you're trying to make your veil! Cheaper lightweight silk is not sheer.
Having a sheer veil provides more choreographic options - imagine how much better the pose on the right would look, if you could see the outline of the dancer through the veil.
For all those reasons, the most popular materials for belly dance veils are rayon chiffon, polyester chiffon, or georgette.
In tribal belly dance, opaque silk veils are more popular, especially the multi-colored tie-dye styles.
Measuring your veil
It’s very important to get the right size veil for your arm length.
- Drape a long piece of material over your shoulders. Stand up straight and let your arms hang loosely at your sides, with the material hanging over them.
- Put a pin in the veil marking where your fingertips reach, then take the material off and add about a foot on each end.
- If you haven’t bought the fabric yet, ask someone to measure your "wingspan" while you have your arms stretched out to each side, then add 2 feet (60 cm) – but add a little extra to be safe, because this measurement doesn’t allow for the drape around the shoulders.
Don’t forget to allow an extra 3/8 inch all round for the hem!
Hemming is the make-or-break for many would-be veil makers!
The best solution is to use the "rolled hem" foot on your sewing machine. If you prefer a flat hem, you'll get a cleaner edge if you make a line of stitches about a quarter inch in from the edge before you fold and press the hem (fold the material at the line of stitching).
Of course you can also hand-stitch your hem - but be prepared, as you'll need a lot of patience!
But now - what to do with your veil once you've got it!
All text copyright Marisa Wright. Belly dancer with veil photo with thanks to Toast to life on Flickr.
- The Costume Goddess
- Dancing With Veils, by Cory Zamora: A Video Review By Shira
Here is Shira's review of Dancing With Veils, an instructional belly dance video taught by Cory Zamora. It appears on The Art Of Middle Eastern Dance, which offers over 400 articles related to belly dance: poetry, translated song lyrics, glossary, ti
- Belly Dance Veil - How To Make a Veil for Belly Dance
Learn how to make a veil for belly dancing.
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how-to-dance on June 04, 2010:
Love the materials!!!
parthena on August 01, 2009:
I love making my own costuming! I've actually purchased several yards of remnant fabric with plans to make veils but never followed through. Thanks for re-inspiring me.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 04, 2009:
Brendag, the principle for making a flag would be the same - cut the fabric to the size you want, then make a small hem using the method I described. If you're using it for belly dance (which means, I assume, that you're a tribal dancer) then you'll have to weight the hem somehow, otherwise it won't fly properly.
brendag on July 04, 2009:
How to make a simply hand held flag?
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 30, 2009:
that for information. Belly dance recently very famous in my country. Girl, Mom, slim, even fat join this dance. Belly danse courses spread across the city. Very atrractive.
Earth Angel on February 08, 2009:
GREAT Hub Marisa!!
I, too love to belly dance!! I wear a much more professional costume than my skill level!! I think people actually think I am better than I am!!
I have found a wonderful place for buying silk for veils at reasonable prices!! www.DharmaTrading.com!!
I am also an artist so I hand paint my veils in vivid colors!! They come in heavy to light weight in colors black or white without any painting!!
Thanks again for sharing!!
Blessings always, EarthAngel!!
foxility on February 04, 2009:
I love your dancing related reading material. Good job!
Merle Ann Johnson from NW in the land of the Free on February 04, 2009:
Dance with it I guess..Nicely done sweetie I was impressed...Love the materials myself and seems fun to me..yikes at my tender OLD age??? G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace
Mohideen Basha from TRICHY, TAMIL NADU, INDIA. on February 02, 2009:
i love belly dance. your hub is very informative. the video clips are nice.