How to make belly dancer costumes

Written by ann jones
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How to make belly dancer costumes
Tribal style belly dancers adorn their costumes with vintage coins and fabrics. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

There are as many styles of belly dance costumes as there are belly dancers. While traditional cabaret belly dance costumes are specially made and can cost thousands of dollars, tribal style dancers often make their own costumes using vintage fabrics and coins. You can adorn a basic black bra with coins, cowrie shells and ribbons, add brightly coloured yarn to a kuchi belt base, and decorate your hair with feathers and vintage jewellery for a one-of-a-kind belly dance costume that won't break the bank.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Black padded bra
  • Black shoelace
  • Ribbon trim
  • Black fishnet stockings
  • Fabric kuchi belt base
  • Kuchi coins
  • Native American medallions
  • Thick-and-thin wool yarn
  • Novelty yarn
  • Flared trousers or full skirt
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread

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  1. 1

    Build your own bra from a black base. Purchase a matt black padded bra or a belly dance bra base with halter straps. String as many kuchi coins as you can fit on a black shoelace and hand-sew the shoelace along the tops of the bra cups. Cover the cups with horizontal rows of coins or sew ribbon trim along the bottom of each cup. Mirrored ribbon adds extra sparkle when you're onstage.

  2. 2

    Make a top to wear under your bra by cutting the crotch out of a pair of fishnet stockings. Cut off both legs at whatever point you like. To make short sleeves, cut the legs off at thigh level. To make long sleeves, cut them off just above the feet. Put the tights on upside down, with the waistband around your ribs and your arms through the legs, before putting on your bra. This provides added support and coverage.

  3. 3

    Sew a large Native American beaded medallion on both ends of a kuchi belt. Tie the belt in front, so the medallions sit at your hipbones.

  4. 4

    Add a dramatic flair to a kuchi belt by hand sewing long strands of thick-and-thin wool yarn along the bottom edge. Cut each strand of yarn so it is double the length you want it to be. Then fold it over and sew the fold to the underside of the belt. Add strands of novelty yarn, such as eyelash yarn or ribbon yarn, for texture and colour. The yarn will fly out around you as you spin. Wear the kuchi belt over flared trousers or a full skirt.

  5. 5

    Decorate your hair with feathers, beads, vintage jewellery, bits of ribbon or dread falls. Wear plenty of silver bracelets and a heavy silver necklace. Wear make-up in vivid colours, with lots of black around your eyes and false eyelashes if you wish. Finish off your make-up with sparkly bindi on your forehead and around your eyes.

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