Home » Belly Dance » Middle Eastern(ish) Belly Dance Costume

Middle Eastern(ish) Belly Dance Costume

I needed a suitable Middle Eastern outfit for an SCA event (something along the lines of this)… so I decided to “whip one up” – though it wasn’t quite as simple as that – there was much swearing and gnashing of teeth… mostly because I’m really not a competent seamstress enough to just be able to do that (without patterns or instructions and only a vague idea of what I wanted the outfit to look like) without some sort of minor nervous breakdown.  But all up, I think it worked well..  especially given most of it was made the day before the event 🙂

(ignore the fact the mannequin is teensy – seriously)

The green here looks shiny, but it’s not, it’s just a plain old cotton. Not my ideal choice of fabric, but I was limited by budget and what Spotlight happened to have…

Essentially it’s a coat, that buttons up from under the bust to the waist… splits at the sides to the hip… with sleeves that are my own design (sort of like a split bell sleeve)… and it even has the underarm “hole” that allows you to lift your arms without it riding up.

Fortunately, being in the SCA and having to make my own medieval gowns without a pattern, I’ve become reasonably decent at drafting my own basic dress patterns…  The shape is pretty simple…  (FYI – baking paper makes an excellent pattern!).  And fortunately this particular garment is open at the bust – so I didn’t have to do any fancy shaping – because while I can do that, it would have thrown the stripes out of whack :þ

yes my friends – that is a pin *gasp*

Those who know me, know I’m generally a “lets put this pattern piece down, plonk a shoe, a stickytape dispenser… and whatever else handy I have on it to keep it in place.. and just cut it out” kind of gal…. but since this needed to be correctly fitting, I did actually make a mockup out of an old sheet and I used pins.  Wonders will never cease!

This is my sleeve…. bizarre shaping!  …see, when you have your arms up dancing, you want the sleeve to hang down from the elbow.  But you don’t want any unsightly seams, so you have to line it….but you’d still see a join…. yes, “perfectionist”, I know… so I figured I’d do a split bell sleeve type thing… I think it turned out cool – not in the least bit accurate for a medieval period outfit, but I also plan to be able to wear this for modern tribal dance… where anything goes.

I could not for the life of me work out how to make the entire coat with all seams hidden, since I had to leave the under-arm seam for the sleeve-body connection open for movement…. and I wasn’t planning on top stitching it…. so in the end, rather than setting fire to the coat (as I was shortly about to do in a fit of rage/stress) I decided that buggerit… you can’t see the inside when I’m wearing it, so I’ll just overlock the bits together coz it’s easier.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone!

…Then came the great button dilemma of 2010…

See.. I figured the buttons (can I just say – $2 per button OMG! highway robbery!!!  luckily my torso is short so I only needed 7)   may be subjected to a little stress…. given the garment is tight fitting, and there is a reasonable amount of me to squeeze in there 😉  So I had a brilliant (if I do say so myself) idea for reinforcing the buttons, figuring otherwise they would probably pull at the fabric… buttons!  backing the button, with a button!  Magically I just happened to have enough buttons in the right colour in my button jar!   So, buttons sewn on…  Then it struck me that I’d not actually given any thought to how to do the loops…. since the cord I got frays horribly when cut, and I didn’t want any sewing on the good side (Ideally I should have sewn them into the front seam, but I wasn’t prepared to unpick the entire outfit to do that), so I had to just sew it on  – with button reinforcing and little garlands of excess cord….and deal with a little bit of visible thread on the outside

Yes, again, I’m oddly perfectionist for someone who is such a lazy slob and uses shoes to weigh down a pattern instead of bothering with pins, but anwyay… I don’t know if you noticed, but you’ll see I took great care in making sure the sleeves are cut with the stripes more or less correctly aligned and the front stripes of the body are the same… (I did actually have to throw out one sleeve and one coat front because I cut them out with the fabric folded and they then the stripes weren’t in the same place on both pieces – and that would never do!)

I also made a linen under-dress….(with facings on the neck {admittedly mostly so the linen wasn’t see through and show my bra} – all with no pattern, see how clever I am ;)) a pair of dusty purple harem pants, and a fringed belt …. to finish off the outfit.

Here is one showing the gold stitching (machine – not by hand) I did on the harem pant cuffs… and I actually put hooks and eyes on!  I’ve made several pairs of harem pants over the years (a good belly dance staple!) and normally I never get around to actually finishing them so I safety pin them together (another great belly dance staple).. but these I actually finished – go me!

and yes…. that is the raggedy selvedge of the fabric on the harem pants cuffs…. I decided I liked it like that.. and no, it wasn’t laziness… it was actually a choice (I deliberated on it for a good 15 mins I’ll have you know)….

Can you see I have curly toed shoes!  The most uncomfortable shoes I own (the leather won’t stretch at all, so cuts into your foot)… but they look cool.


One thought on “Middle Eastern(ish) Belly Dance Costume

  1. You should try putting the leather shoes on with a thick pair of socks and blow drying them with a hair dryer, should help to shape and stretch the shoes a little bit!

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