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Body Coverage

I receive lots of requests on the subject of covering the body, yet wearing a cabaret costume. While this may sound like a contradiction, it can be done. Below are options available for those who donít want to show quite as much as those Turkish dancers!

If you prefer to keep your stomach or ribcage covered, there are many fashionable options available. You can always use an authentic Egyptian cabaret costume with nylon covering your middle section. You can transform a current costume by adding nylon that matches your skin tone or your costume. Sew the nylon to the bottom of your bra and top of your belt. I suggest using a zipper, hooks (the type that you can buy in a strip and sew on), or Velcro at the back.

If you want a fancier look, there are many stomach drapes available. There are mesh, metal, coined, beaded, crochet ... you name it, they have it these days. These can be bought or made similar to the nylon method above, but covering the front of your torso only. Usually the drape is attached at the middle of the bra and widens as it lowers to the belt and reaches from hip to hip. You can use hooks or velcro to attach the top and bottom to your costume if you donít want to sew it right on. Of course you can also use long fringe to cover your midsection. The only problem with this solution is that the fringe can hide movements such as undulations.


Donít forget veils! Veils wrapped around the body look elegant and mysterious. Plus they are sheer ehough that the audience can still see your every body wave and ripple.

If your arms are the bane of your existence, donít despair. Long beaded/crochet arm gloves are the perfect, classy cover up and add that extra oomph youíre looking for. Alternatively, arm drapes that cover your wrist to upper arm can be used. These are usually two pieces of material sewn together. You can use one large piece of material, but I find that using two pieces is neater. For a close fitting or sleek style, measure the circumference at your wrist, elbow and upper arm. Itís best to use stretchy material (nylon, lycra, stretch velvet) for this style to allow movement at the elbow. If you want to heavily bead your armband, I would use lining or buckram for the base to support the weight of the beads, stop just before the elbow, and use velcro to attach the sides.

For a more Spanish or puffy style, double to triple the amount of material should be used, and gathered at the ends. The more material used the looser/puffier the fit. Elastic at the ends is best for these styles, but donít make it so tight that bulges appear. You can also make bell sleeves, which are like bell-bottoms for your arms and all the rage in fashion right now. Use soft, flowing material that will drape well. These can be made to attach to your shoulder straps or to fit around your upper arm. Make sure the top fits the circumference of where you intend to wear it snugly (ie your upper arm or shoulder to underarm). Cut the shape wider as the sleeves lengthen Ė keeping the bell shape in mind. A good length is just past your elbows to just above your wrists. If you use the zigzag stitch, you should get a nice little wave at the bottom.

Upper armbands with chiffon drapes billowing at the bottom add a soft, romantic, and mystical look. You can make these by cutting out a rectangle the circumference of your upper arm from buckram or whatever material you plan to use. Cover and decorate as desired. Cut out several squares or whatever shapes you want of chiffon and hem the edges. Sew a corner of each piece of chiffon to the bottom of your armband. Use velcro for the closures on the sides or non-roll elastic along the top and bottom.

Remember: if using elastic you will need to make your armband a little larger than the circumference and make sure the elastic is shorter than the circumference for a snug fit. You will also need to make a casing to thread the elastic through.

Other quick fixes include attaching chiffon drapes or fringe right to your bra. You can loop fringe or material from the upper front of your bra strap to the upper back of your strap. You can buy or make a bra top that looks more like a vest with full or cap sleeves. Remember to cut out under the arm for ease of movement. Indian fabric stores sell cholis at cheap prices that will do the job just fine.

If you are worried about revealing your thighs, use elastic at the waistband of your skirt and stitch the slits from your knees (or wherever) up to the waist. This way, some leg shows, but you donít have to worry about your thighs showing. If using buckram at the waistband, you will have to leave an opening of a few inches at the top to ensure that the skirt will fit over your hips - thatís why I recommend using elastic instead. You can also wear harem pants under a circle skirt for more coverage.

For more hints and styles for you body type find your copy of Mid-Bits Spring 2001. This article discusses different styles of skirts for cabaret costumes that will fit your body shape best, as well as other costuming details. If you canít find your copy, you can go to our web site, http://babs_designs.tripod.com for a copy of the article. If you donít have web access, contact us and I will forward a copy of the article to you.

Have a great summer!

 

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