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Face Veils

An item not often used in belly dancing, but very cool and full of intrigue, is the face veil. The face veil covers the dancerís face, except her eyes, protecting her identity and adding mystery. I know images of Charlieís Angels and harem girls come to mind, but I think face veils get a bad rep. Plus, they are all the rage in some areas of the Middle East, so why not here?

Face veils can be very simple or a little more elaborate, but they all look great and are easy to make. Bonus: they require very little fabric and are good for using up those extra scraps you have left over.

The easiest face veil to make is a simple rectangle that drapes from ear to ear, just over the nose. Use a lightweight fabric like chiffon or silk and cut it so that the shorter ends are about 2 inches wider than the measurement from temple to temple. You want it to drape loosely over your nose and face. Cut the length from your temple at minimum to chin level, and at maximum to your shoulders. Make sure it covers your lower face. Hem the entire rectangle. Some face veils are more like a mask and closer-fitting around the nose, mouth and cheeks. They tend to look like those eye masks you wear to sleep. My only concern in making these is ensuring there is enough room to breathe easily. Make sure you use very light or sheer material if making one of these veils.

Measure a piece of elastic (preferably non-roll elastic) about 2 inches shorter than the circumference of your head. Sew one of the shorter edges of your rectangle onto the middle of the elastic. Decorate the veil with trim, sequins, fringe, or leave plain. Sew the ends of the elastic together and wear the veil under your hair. If you want to wear the elastic over you hair, cover the band with matching material for a nicer look. You can also use buckram, gros grain, or other ribbon instead of elastic, but then will require hooks or Velcro to attach at the back. If making one of the closer fitting face veils, attach the elastic to the sides of the veil.

For a more elaborate face veil, you can attach the veil to a headband or tiara. To make a headband, use buckram or interfacing for stiffness. Again, measure the circumference of your head and cut out the desired shape or design. Cover with material. Decorate with trim, sequins, beads, fringe, etc. Attach the veil at each temple You can sew the edges on, use Velcro, or hooks to attach. Use Velcro or hooks to attach at the back. If you wish to use elastic, attach it to the sides of the headband, but use buckram for the forehead piece - it will look more professional.

You can use a ready-made tiara or make your own using buckram and chicken wire (or other preferred lightweight wire). Make your desired shape or base with the chicken wire. Cut out matching shape with buckram, using at least two layers and make it about an inch larger. Attach the buckram onto the chicken wire, fold over, and glue or sew on. You now have a sturdy base. Cover with material. Add sequins, trim, beads, etc. I suggest buying some cheap hair combs to glue the base of your tiara to. This way you can attach the tiara using the hair combs instead of just pinning into place. Attach veil to sides of tiara. As the tiara is a little higher, you will have to widen your face veil to allow for the extra drape down to the nose. You donít want your veil too tight across your face.

The face veil is going to accentuate your eyes, so you have to ensure they stand out and look gorgeous. Eyeliner and mascara is a must. You donít have to go heavy on the eye shadow if you donít want or donít know how to. Donít forget to pluck, clean up, and shape your eyebrows. Use an eyebrow pencil to fill in or darken brows and use an eyebrow comb with some gel to brush eyebrows and keep them neat looking. If you donít feel comfortable making up your eyes, get a free makeover at one of the many cosmetic counters in large department stores or ask a friend whoís good with makeup for a lesson.

When dancing, use your eyes to express your feelings as your facial expressions wonít be easily seen if at all. Practice flirty, smoldering, surprised, joyous, and sad expressions - whatever feeling you will be portraying. Youíll have to express the dance and music through your eyes and body more when using a face veil. It may sound intimidating, but itís fun ... why not try something different!


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