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Tight Skirts

If you were at the Belly Dance Superstars Show that is touring Canada and the United States, you would have seen a lot of body hugging and narrow skirts. These types of skirts present a very elegant and sophisticated look. Many of them have the belt built right in, so the costumes are two pieces, not three (top, belt & skirt). While the skirts look difficult and intricate, they are fairly easy to make. You just have to follow some general guidelines to ensure that all of your beautiful sequin/bead work doesnít fall off.

First, these skirts are not for the shy type. They will fit snug and provide less room to move. Unlike a circle skirt, which can be made without slits, you need at least one slit to allow for movement. Lots of leg will show as you dance, unless you stand in one place and use really tiny moves, but what fun is that?

Due to the above, use material with some give such as stretch velvet, nylon, liquid lame, spandex, etc. It can be 2 or 4 way stretch material. You want to ensure that the material stretches horizontally, as that is the direction you will be stretching the skirt when dancing. You can use non-stretchy material, but there will be less room for movement,more pressure on the seams and you will need more slits. Depending on the material used, nap, design, etc., you will require 1 to 2 yards of material.

Itís best to use a zipper closure on the form-fitting skirts instead of an elastic band. This provides a nice close fit, without bunching at the waist. You can use an elastic waistband, but this will increase pressure on the stitches near the top of the skirt from repeated stretching over your hips. Make sure to use a zig zag or stretch stitch. If you arenít good with sewing zippers, a better alternative is to make a wrap-style or narrow skirt and use hooks for the closure. This is if you are building the belt into the skirt. If you are making a separate belt, you can make a narrow or close-fitting skirt using an elastic waistband. The belt will cover the bunching and there will be no sequin work to ruin on the skirt. If you donít want your slit to open quite as much, you can cut the bottom of the skirt a little wider than the top for more overlap.

When cutting the pattern for a tight skirt, use a minimum of two pieces, one for the back and one for the front. To make a lovely flare at the bottom of the skirt, like a fishtail, add more panels. Why not just use one piece of material and wrap it around? You can do this, but you will have to add darts at the hips to ensure a good fit, which may cause some puckering. With two pieces, you can cut out the curve from top of hip to thigh, straight down to ankle and sew them together to form two nice, smooth seams. I would suggest adding the zipper along the side seam for a clean finish. Sew as close as possible to the actual zipper for a neat look. You can also add the zipper at the back of the skirt and use it as an extra dart. The slit can be at the side, middle front, front of one thigh, wherever you want, even at the back. Just donít go too high for obvious reasons! End the slit at mid-thigh to 2/3 up the thigh. If adding the slit at the seam, sew up to where you want the slit to start and reinforce. Hem the remaining edges on either side to prevent fraying. If adding a slit elsewhere, cut the material from bottom up and hem both sides.

For making a wrap skirt, use one piece of material wide enough to pull over your hips. Add darts at the side from top of hips to widest area of your hips. Skirt should skim the hips/upper thighs and fall straight down. Remember this is for skirts with the belt sewn in. If you are making a separate belt, you can use more material, as the belt will cover the bunching around the hips.

Now you can sew the design on. You can either sew it right onto the skirt with no backing or sew some lining behind the area you plan to use as your "belt". Adding the backing provides more support for your beadwork and less stress on the material. Donít sew too tightly or as soon as you stretch the material the sequins/beads will pop right off. Make sure your thread is a little loose to allow for the stretch. A good option is to use strands or stretch sequins instead of sewing them on individually.

Rhinestone strands, while expensive, look awesome and are easy to sew on. Appliques are fine to use and much easier than sewing your own applique design. The more beads/sequins you sew on, the less stretch you will have. That is why most of these skirts are not heavily beaded. Instead of fringe, which would make the skirt top-heavy and pull the skirt down, beaded tassels are sewn on. Tassels are just beads strung on thread and sewn right onto the skirt. Leave about 1/8th of the thread hanging free at the end or part closest to the skirt material, to allow for lots of sway and movement.

If you want to add peak-a-boo cutouts, put the skirt on first and outline the area with tailorís chalk. This way you will know how much the material will stretch when it is being worn. If you just cut out the holes without trying it on, you may find more of you peeking out than you intended! Before you cut out the hole, remember that you will need about Ĺ an inch of material to fold under and hem to ensure that the material doesnít fray. Add sequins or beads along the edge to accent your peek-a-boo cutouts and youíre finished. For extra support you can line around the cutout before folding the edge over and sewing the seam.

See, that wasnít so hard, was it?


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