Swirly belt course review

This is one of the first reviews on this blog and we’re starting with one that I’m very excited about. The Swirly Belt Course from Sparkly Belly! To be clear, I purchased this premium course full price in February 2017. I have worked with Mao Murakami, the owner of Sparkly Belly, during the Belly Dance Affirmation Cards in 2016. I have not received payment to write this review and was not requested to do so. If you haven’t heard of this course, Mao made an introduction video to show you.

Why didn’t I try it sooner?

Due to remodelling and other perils I didn’t make much costumes in 2017. It took all my efforts to keep my ‘regular’ life going and costuming is something that is pushed to the fringes when I’m in a tight spot. With our dance group ‘Sense of Bellydance’ we booked a photoshoot and as a group we decided that we should all wear purple with gold accents. Despite a closet full of costumes, that wasn’t something I had  lying around! Also, due to life, having a baby and gaining some pounds I didn’t feel comfortable in wearing a bra- belt combination. It was time to create a dress. What better way to dress up the dress than a swirly belt and matching appliqués? It was half november and I needed to get started soon.

After buying the course

After making the payment, the course was digitally deliverded to me in the Sparkly Belly Learning environment. By logging into Sparkly Belly, I can find all my courses and go through the content. The course is split up into several parts. All the instructions are available in the form of a movie and in written text. It is clearly laid out and easy to acccess.


While I was working on the purple dress I started searching for the supplies Mao recommends. The resources are mentioned on a seperate page, and are split into resources needed for each belt design. It took me some time and effort to find all of the materials as I am in the EU and we use different words and translations for some items.  Looking back, I spent a fair amount on tools. In the course, we cut out the design with a scalpel knife and I bought a knife and self healing cutting mat to make that part easier.

The course is very clear in what materials are needed to create the belt. A lot of people have asked me what type of material is used. I will not disclose this in this blog post as it is all clearly stated in the course. The basic course is 39 usd and I got the premium package of 49 USD. The premium package includes a pattern book.

Working with the course

It was easy to follow the instructions and create my own belt and appliqués. I was suprised how simple some steps were, and how incredible photogeneric the end result is. Seriously, it is ridiculous. Let me show you a close up of the bra I decorated. That’s a visually stunning costume! As this was the first try, I have a couple of learning points for myself.


I should read and follow instructions more carefully

She warned me in the course to check the printing settings, but I was in a hurry and I didn’t check it. I ended up printing the workbook  slightly smaller (about 10%). As a result, the whole design shrunk a tiny bit and I had to compensate by adding extra swirls. I like the way it came out and I like to customize the belt a bit, but it would have been easier if I read more careful and printed it in the right size.

Scalpel knifes are really, really sharp

I cut myself a couple of times during the first try, but I got wiser and a bit more cautious and it didn’t happen again.

This projects is about crafting, not about sewing

Good news for everyone who has never sewn before: you don’t have to sew for this course! You could get make this with cutting and gluing and a couple of stitches. No sewing machine or specific sewing skills required. As a costume maker, I prefer sewing because I want my costumes to stand up to wear and tear.


Cutting out the belt


There’s no fringe

Obviously, the course doesn’t include beaded fringe so there isn’t any beaded fringe on this type of costume. I also don’t see how I could add beaded fringe, as the weight of the fringe would possibly damage the belt if I attached it. I love beaded fringe! I also love the look of the swirly belt and the applicquées. I have to live with the knowledge that I can have one or the other, and not both at the same time.

It’s a delicate belt design

The swirly shapes are lovely, so delicate and feminine. At some points, the design is connected by only narrow bits of material to keep it all together. It makes me a bit worried about the durability of the belt. The multiple layers offer some extra support and that’s a good thing, but when I travel my costumes are folded, sometimes crushed or piled on top of each other. I’m not sure how the belt will hold up.

It comes out gorgeous

With this technique, the design will look gorgeous. even if you absolutely have no skills in costuming, I dare to state that your swirly belt will look amazing. Make a mistake with cutting? No worries. A bit clumsy with glue? It dries up clear! Don’t know how to do the lining? You can adjust while adding!

It’s one of the best courses for belly dancers as you can create a beautiful belt with very little skills. This is definitly a lot of bang for your bucks.


It’s a comprehensive course, suitable for anyone who wants to create a beautiful belt. It requires no previous experience.  In fact, I think you’re better off not having sewing experience as I sometimes missed sewing things.

It might be good to know that it isn’t necesarily a very fast way of making a belt. Each step needs a couple of hours to complete. I think it took me about 14 hours to create a belt and the appliquées. That is still fast compared to making a belt using the more established costuming techniques.

The course has a clear set up, the video and text explain things very well and I loved having the workbook so I had a design to start with. I’d give it a 5 start rating on a scale of one to five.

If you want to try it for yourself, you can read the description of the course and sign up on Sparkly Belly.

I am a professional bellydancer, costume-a-holic and dance studio owner living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue doing so for quite some time! I am a teacher at the online Belly Dance Business Academy, where you can find courses and workshops to help you grow your belly dance business. If you like to be kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook.





4 thoughts on “Swirly belt course review

  1. Hi Kyria 🙂
    One of the points that made me take Mao’s course was your beautiful gold swirly belt!
    I was wondering how you managed to hide the side edges?


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