These are costumes I have made for actual dance performances. They are practical and pretty, and all day wearable for the most part.
Sheer and Black Harem Pants
See instructions on Renaissance Costumes
All I changed was adding elastic to the waistband and at each ankle. I did attach the sheer panels to the bottom of the pant prior to cuffing the hem and inserting elastic.
Harem Pants and Hip Scarf
This pair of pants and the rest of the versions of this costume posted below are taken from the same Simplicity pattern, with exceptions as noted per costume. The pattern is Simplicity 5359. I suggest using a really light fabric for this to get the baggy look when still and the fabric sway when moving.
The changes I've made to this costume are as follows -
Lengthened the waist on it to allow the waist band to sit on the actual waist instead of the hips. I've been told most bellydancers wear the pants on their hips, but I suppose because mine are so wide, it just results in them falling off if I shimmy or whatnot.
Used an elastic waistband instead of a zipper to create a more comfortable design with a less fitted look. If you want a fitted top, you'll need to put a zipper in the back the length of the waistband. This also means your waistband needs to fit tightly (like an inch or two tighter than normal) so that the pants stay on when dancing.
Triangle Hip Scarf
I didn't use a pattern for this - it's simple enough to make without one. You just need your waist measurement. You can add length for ties, or just attach a hook and eye - which is what I've done. Once you know how wide you want it, decide on a length - down to your knees, mid-thigh, bottom of the butt - whatever suits you. Just be sure you get the measurement from the back so that it includes your behind. Measure the width of the cloth and mark the center, then mark your length from that center. Fold along this line. Pin a string to the bottom center - you're longest point - and pull it up to the edge of your width. Cut along this line. I finished the edges on mine with sequins, but you can use fringe, ribbon, contrast fabric, or nothing at all. Just be sure to close it with a stitch or it will unravel.
Bellydance Skirt, Top, and Vest
This skirt is pretty altered from the original. The changes are as follows -
Instead of using 6 skirt panels to make the short, flared skirt shown in the picture, I used 4 panels cut long with a contrast fabric inset. I made the inset by determining my top and bottom width for it, then laying the two front panels over a folded section of contrast cloth (right sides facing in/down). I made sure the two panels were separated at the desired width on each end, plus 1/4" to 1/2" for the seam. Then I traced it onto the fabric with a white fabric pencil for the dark cloth. You can also use chalk, or even a regular pencil to do this.
I used fabric tape to finish the skirt seams, but it's equally simple to do a french seam, an overcast stitch, or just serge the edge (provided you own and know how to use a serger).
An elastic hem as opposed to a zipper, used for the same reasons as the harem pants. A zipper is easier to install in the skirt, as it can be longer than the waistband without negatively affecting the lay of the fabric.
This vest is pretty basic. Pattern changes are as follows -
I used a measurement of my shoulder to mid torso to determine the right length for the vest. I still think it came out a bit short, but not nearly as ridiculously tiny as the one the pattern comes with.
I moved the darts to correspond to just outside the center of my breasts. The whole point of the darts is to emphasize the chest, so if you use your personal measurements, it works better.
I changed the neckline and armholes slightly to be more comfortable and loose, basically just matching them to the shape and measurements of my actual arms, neck, and shoulder.
I did not use interfacing to line it because the outer fabric used was heavy. It did mean the vest was not as stiff and fitted as the pattern image, but it was far more comfortable and wearable in TX heat.
Also a pretty basic item. The changes are as follows -
Lengthened the shirt so that it tucked in deeply. This kept it from pulling loose when dancing.
Tightened the elastic band in the top to give it more gather there. That also helps emphasize the chest . . .
Widened the armholes; shortened and widened the sleeves. This gave more freedom of movement and a blousier look.
This is a basic half circle 3 yard veil, no pattern needed. Just get some light fabric, measure out your desired width(I recommend just over your fingertip to fingertip measurement if you want less than 3 yards)and length (I used the shoulder to mid-calf). Remember, the bigger it is, the harder it is to dance gracefully with it. Pin a string to the center of the top, attach a fabric pen, pencil, or chalk, and draw a half circle on your fabric. Cut this out and finish your edges. I went to an upholstery fabric store and got a beaded fringe for mine. If you do this and the beaded fringe you use is single strand - leave an edge and secure stitch it by hand. Otherwise it will unravel and you will lose all or most of your beads. I would have beaded it myself, but ran out of time. You don't have to add anything to the edge to finish it, but I've found that a lightly weighted edge makes it easier to use.
Short Flared Skirt and Caftan
Short Flared Skirt
This was done with McCalls pattern 5054. The changes are as follows -
I shortened the skirt by leaving off the tiers.
I lengthened the waistband to fit the zipper because it seemed silly to me to have to cut the zipper to make it fit. Not to mention, zippers are a pain when you have to cut them short and the resecure them.
I added 2 sheer fabric godets between the the front and rear panels to give the skirt a little more flare.
This caftan was made entirely by me using a pattern I sketched onto tissue based on a traditional costume image called Cefiyeh's Caftan and of course, my own measurements. As with the other, I shortened it the hem and dropped the neckline a bit.
If anyone would like, I can scan some of my altered pattern images in so that you can print them, trace them, and make this piece for yourself. For the record, I can't scan the actual pattern because that would violate copyright laws, and I have no intention of doing that. However, my artistic variations are of course, open source and I am happy to share ^_^.
Costumes and Crafts