"It is the darkness that is the light, and the stillness that is the dancing"

TS Elliot


Affordable belly dancing costumes

Suggestions on how to make your own...

If you are looking for affordable belly dancing costumes I would suggest making your own. I say this is a more affordable route because you are not buying the whole costume in one go, you are spreading the purchases over a few days, or weeks.

First have a look at different internet sites, or in books for costume inspirations. Once you have an idea of what you would like to dance in, get the basics, skirt or pants and top, if you do not have sewing skills that is not a problem, you can find someone, a friend maybe who has such skills, or a seamstress, to help in making them, or you can shop around for reasonably priced articles that can be adapted if necessary. Approached like this affordable belly dancing costumes can be yours!

I find it much more exciting to make my own costumes, because only you can really know what will bring out your character in performance, and once you start dancing in it, I find it to be very different to dancing in a costume made by someone I don't know, more magic and strength enters the movements knowing that the adornments I wear have been woven together by my own hand and imagination.

Another option in the pursuit of affordable belly dancing costumes is, if you have found a costume pre-made that you really like, then why not offer to pay it off slowly over a period of time that suites you and the seller.

If you decide to make your own, here are some basic ideas and instructions...

For details on how to make the skirt visit the 'costume elements and styles' page, or if you have decided to buy yourself a skirt, you can adapt it by cutting slits up either side and hemming it or stitching in different strips of fabric that you cut into long triangles and sew in along the slit lines to add more volume and different colours and textures to the skirt.

If you want to dance in flare pants, these can be made from a cheap pair of cotton lycra tracksuit pants. Just cut a slit up the seam along the outer leg, to about knee level, get an off-cut of fabric you like and cut two triangles, with one long point that measures the same length of the slit you have cut in the pants, and however wide you want it at the base, this will determine how much flare is in the pants.

Now hand or machine stitch one triangle into each slit, making sure the seams are on the inside, and you should be left with your homemade flare pants to add to your collection of affordable belly dancing costumes.

A nice addition to wear over the flare pants is if you cut a square of fabric and then cut just over a waist sized hole in the middle, which you sew elastic around. This creates a simple skirt that when worn drapes to four points, the length of which will be determined by how big you cut the square of fabric.

If you wish to dance in harem pants, there is a basic description of how to make these on the 'costume elements and styles' page.

For the top, a simple crop or halter-top could be bought, or you can just use a padded bra. I say use a padded bra because it is easier and more secure to sew accessories to it than a normal bra.

For the belt you could just buy a small piece, a quarter of a meter, of any strong fabric and cut it into a shape you like, or get hold of some buckram from a sewing shop or upholsterer which is a material used to strengthen and keep the shape of fabric, used a lot in curtain making. Cut this buckram to a shape you like and size that fits your hips, then glue or stitch your chosen fabric to it. See how easy it can be to make your own affordable belly dancing costumes!

Once you have your top and belt base look at the pictures of costumes you like or ones you have drawn yourself and visualise what you want to sew onto them and where, so as to get an idea of colour combinations, quantities and preferred materials, be it metal, glass, plastic and so on.

Then go to the bead shop or a cheap accessory store to find embellishments that work with what you visualised, you could also go onto the internet and search sites that sell loose accessories for belly dance costumes, such as coins and antique jewellery and embroidery work, although this is normally quite a bit more expensive and beautiful alternatives can be found at a bead shop.

Once you have all the ingredients, it is just a matter of hand stitching the artwork together onto the top and belt. Keep your visual references next to you or in your minds eye and play with placement and spacing of the embellishments until you discover a pattern that appeals to you and then hand stitch or glue the pieces on, though stitching is always better because it lasts longer.

By the end of this not only would you have a collection of affordable belly dancing costumes of your own design but also have gone through a creative and learning process that shows you, you can do it. Have fun!

One final word... if you really really don't want to do this then you may, with luck, find affordable belly dancing costumes by visiting The Souk.

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