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Costume Patterns & Ideas

Can you believe a year has gone by already - wow! How many of you made the costume you wanted to last year? Well, for those that didnít, hereís a list of sources for costume patterns and ideas. Some of the web sites even provide free patterns!

1. Atira Fashions is probably the best-known company for Middle Eastern costume patterns. Atira Fashions covers all aspects of Middle Eastern Dance with an extensive pattern list for women and men. Cutting lines include small, medium, and large sizes. Pattern styles include a variety of skirt, belt, bra, and even Gawagazee Coat. Patterns for accessories such as arm drapes, and instructions on how to wrap turbans, are also available. Patterns range in price from $6.50 to $12.50 US. Their catalogue is worth buying at approximately $3.00 US and lists 36 available designs with wonderful illustrations, which are also included on their web site. Their web sit advertises a "new costuming bra created for belly danced costumes" that can hold 2 1/2 pounds of beads. It is on sale for $26 US (usually $30). Sounds too good to be true, but you never know!

Atira Fashions, P.O. Box 68207, Seattle WA 98186

2. BD Patterns or Belly Dance Patterns is another good source. BD Patterns provides a variety of fun, mix Ďní match styles with a catalogue of roughly 20 patterns. Most of the patterns are for skirts, harem pants, and beledi dresses, with some tops. These patterns are available in up to 58" to 60" hips and bust measurements. While not as extensive a catalogue as Atira Fashions, BD Patterns does offer a number of very creative costume designs. Their web sit has pictures of ďactualĒ outfits, so you will have an idea of what the item will look like. Prices range from $5 to $15 US.

BD Patterns, 735 East Washington Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92020

3. Canadian Shantell Powell has a book called The Omphalo-Stepses Belly Dance Costuming Book. Shantell shows you how to make a variety of skirts and veils, as well as basic belt, harem pants, Cleopatra Headpiece, and Turkish-Macedonian Vest. To see a detailed description of Shantellís book and even some free patterns, check out her web site. I havenít seen the book myself, but the patterns on her web site are clear and easy to understand and should be good for the beginner. Iíve included a direct link to her costume page below. Each book is $10 CAD plus shipping.

Shantell Powell, PO Box 20201, Fredericton NB, Canada E3B 7A2

4. MEDANZ is the Middle Eastern Dance Association of New Zealand. Iíve included this web site because if provides free patterns, including a hard-to-find pattern for a khaleegy thobe. MEDANZ also provides general information on costuming ideas and various styles.

5. Dawn Devine Brown is probably the best known author on Middle Eastern costuming.

Costuming from the Hip, her breakthrough book, is a detailed reference for all types of Middle Eastern dance costuming. It includes instructions on designing clothes and making your own patterns. Topics include ethnic, folkloric, tribal, cabaret styles, and a special section on menís dancewear.

From Turban to Toe Ring is focused on Tribal Dancewear. It includes sections on designing cholis, decorating bras, and making pants and skirts. There is also a large section on tribal jewelry and henna mixing and application.

Bedlah, Baubles, and Beads is her newest book, focusing exclusively on the "cabaret" style costume. This book is a good reference for designing a beaded bra and belt. It contains hundreds of tips, hints, and directions to help you make a professional beaded bra and belt costume.

Each of these books is $20 US and available at numerous vendors.

Dawn Devine Brown, PO Box 221, Roseville CA 95678-1312

6. Julie Elliot, better known as Shira, has created an amazing web site, The Art of Middle Eastern Dance, full of information on Middle Eastern Dance. Shira has a special section entitled Costume Corner which includes the history of costumes, how to create your own costume, sewing tips and an "Ask the Costume Goddess" section by Dina Lydia. You will find numerous free patterns and ideas for making your own costume, as well as links to other costuming sites.

In my opinion this is one of the best, if not the best, web site on Middle Eastern Dance. It is packed with information on "everything" that Julie has researched and double-checked for authenticity. Definitely worth checking out.


Donít worry about buying the "right" pattern. Patterns for particular styles do not vary that much. A circle skirt pattern is the same no matter who provides it. Itís the style that differs - e.g. circle skirt and petal skirt. Thatís why I suggest printing out the free patterns provided. Once you have these patterns or create your own from their directions, thereís no need to buy. Experiment on cheap material first, such as muslin, to iron out any complications or problems, and donít forget to keep your pattern for next time.

Good luck and happy sewing!


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