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Bellydance Costume Cheat Sheet

With school starting, I thought a cheat sheet on bellydance costumes might be a good subject. Those little tips and tricks that help dancers out when they're in a bind, which happens every now and then (oops! … was I supposed to say that?)


Need accessories fast? Your best bet is stretch sequin trim and material. Both can be found at any fabric store and are affordable. Stretch sequin trim can be bought in single or multi strands of straight row or in different styles such as waves and swirls. They are available in different colours, including multi-coloured. You can make quick armbands, ankle bands, headpieces and even choker necklaces.

Cut the trim an inch or two shorter than your measurements (Remember: you don't want it so tight that it cuts your circulation), and sew the ends together or use hooks. Wear alone or add fringe, coins, and beads for extra dazzle. Use the same fringe, coins, and beads that are in your costume to connect everything together.

Bonus: Stretch sequins can also be used to create a simple belt. If you can't find stretch sequin trim in the right width, buy some stretch sequin material. Make sure you cover the waistband of your skirt or pantaloons. Measure your hips and cut the strip an inch or two shorter. Sew ends together or use hooks for attaching the belt. Add fringe, coins, etc. to the bottom or wear a chain-belt underneath.

To make a quick butterfly-style front, cut the stretch sequin material wide enough to cover your butt. The ends will be the 'front-centre' of your belt. Sew together from top to bottom, using strong thread. As you sew, gather or bunch up the material until it is about two-thirds the width of the belt or forms a butterfly shape. Thread a couple of times through to reinforce. Attach a fancy clip, fringe or appliqué to the center as a focal point.

If your fringe is on a ribbon or band, use any extra for accessories. Cover the band with sequins or leftover material from your costume and voila … instant arm, ankle, and head bands!

Fast Costumes

If you need to make a costume fast, you can always hot glue one together. I personally don't like these costumes because they are not the greatest quality and the glue isn't permanent, but sometimes a dancer's got to do what a dancer's got to do!

Begin with a bra and belt base created the "right" way, then start your shortcuts. If you are going to put trim around your costume and want to use beaded fringe, sew the beaded fringe on first. If you glue the trim on first, you will have difficulty trying to sew through or around the glue. I don't recommend using glue to attach beaded fringe, as it will be difficult to remove the fringe for use again. If you want to glue fringe on, use cloth or material fringe instead.

Glue your beads, sequins, and appliqués on, being careful to remove any glue strands. I suggest using gloves to protect your hands from the hot glue. If you want to be really sneaky, you can simply use glitter glue, which can be bought in a variety of colours including: gold, silver, red, green and blue. Use the glitter glue to draw designs right onto the costume. From a distance, no one will be the wiser.

To save you time on 'filling-in' a costume with sequins or beads, use velvet, dot sequin or metallic fabric to cover your bra and belt. These materials are rich and fancy looking on their own. Just add an appliqué here and there, some fringe, and you're done!

If you are really short on time, make a wrap, petal, or accent skirt instead of a circle skirt. They are quicker to make and use less material, so you'll save money and time.

Recycle and Re-Use

To be economical with expensive Egyptian and Turkish fringe, try this out. Sew the fringe onto gros grain ribbon or something similar. Sew one side of snap buttons along the ribbon every inch or two. Sew the other side of the snap buttons onto the back of your belt, at the bottom - the same distance apart as the fringe ribbon. When it's time to perform, simply snap the fringe into place and you're ready to go. Do this to several costumes and you can use one set of fringe for multiple costumes. Double check the snaps every now and then, replacing any that are old or not staying together. Not to worry, snaps are very strong and will withstand vigorous shimmying!

Another trick for re-using fringe is to sew the fringe onto gros grain or strong ribbon even when not using snaps. Sew the ribbon part onto your costume. If you get tired of a costume, but want to keep the fringe, just remove the ribbon with the fringe intact. I've heard horror stories of people who got confused and cut strands of fringe off by accident! If you are worried about the ribbon showing, simply cover it with the same material used for the bra and belt, then cover with beads, sequins, etc.

When I use this method to add fringe diagonally to a bra, I usually add the fringe first, then cover the bra. I cover the top part of the bra with one piece of material right up to the fringe, then cover the bottom, underneath the fringe, with another piece.


Remember, some of these hints and tricks (especially the glued costume) are for when you're in a rush or can't afford a costume. It's not the proper way to make a good, solid costume. When you have your first professional costume, you'll know what I mean … then you'll be a true goddess!! But in an emergency …


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