My last official photoshoot is over three years ago. It”s about time to get some new promo pictures! Our Sense of Bellydance group booked a shoot next Saturday and we decided to go with individual costumes, all of us in purple with gold accents.
Of the many costumes I have, purple isn’t one of them! With only a couple of weeks to go, I headed out to the fabric market and bought a lovely midnight purple stretch velvet. As I have enough stuff lying around in my stash, this project would be a great opportunity to do some stash busting.
In February this year I purchased the Sparkly Belly Swirly Belt tutorial. This would be perfect for trying out some new techniques! With the swirly belt tutorial I would make gold appliqués and a belt to add some bling. Today I’m writing about creating the dress.
How to make a belly dance dress: start with a bra base
I got a couple of questions when I posted pictures on Facebook about how I made a belly dance dress with integrated bra. I took a commercial pattern for a dress (I prefer a princess seam dress, like this). Add some extra fabric to front pattern pieces so there’s enough fabric to work with. I drafted a similar pattern a couple of years ago so I took it out of my pattern storage. I had a Dina bra base in my stash as well. The Dina bra base is made of compressed foam. They are light weight, sturdy and are available in cup sizes B-C-D. As the cups are connected in the middle, the bra band size is a bit limited. They are easy to sew through by hand or machine and you can find them on eBay for about 13 USD.
How did I do it?
I’m a trial and error kind of person and the process went a bit like this:
- Put on dina bra base
- Put on dress, hike it up untill the desired height, covering the bra. Pin fabric of dress to bra base
- Take dress and bra off, use pins to get the fabric evenly over the bra base. Pin with lots of pins, then hand baste into place. I decided to baste the top and sides of the bra but I could have just basted the upper edge of the bra and leave it at that.
I got a zipper for the middle back of the bra, but I didn’t like how it was visible in the back so I am taking it out. In order to get the fabric over the bra base I took of the flimsy straps that came with the bra. I made new straps by covering waistband elastic in the same fabric as the derss. By adding new straps covered in fabric, I tried the dress on and tweaked a bit with the princess seams to adjust the fit. I then hand stitched the bra to the dress.
The pattern of the dress promised a flared, mermaid like skirt. My idea of a flared skirt was a little bit more dramatic compared to the ‘everyday wear’ pattern. I kept the bottom part of the seams open and added gussets, triangular shaped pieces of fabric. In the middle back I added a quarter circle to get a bit of a draped effect.
As I was a bit short on time, I had to sew during the day as well. Our daughter found the whole process quite fasinating and wanted to help, so I let her ‘pin’ the fabric.
This was a family effort, as I asked my mum to help me with pinning the hem for me. I got up on the table and she pinned along the edge.
I cut off excess fabric and added a seam. After a week of late night sewing, the dress was done! For reference, It took me about 10 hours to make this dress. I saved time because I didn’t need to draft a pattern. I used a Dina bra base so no time spent on converting a regular bra to a belly dance bra, and there is no decoration on the dress. I didn’t take a picture of the dress while wearing it, so you’ll have to wait for the next blog post for a full body shot.
Next week I’ll write about the swirly belt tutorial and creating appliqués. See you there!
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.