How to add a gathered fabric effect with elastic

Creating clothes is all about working with shapes and effects. A slight gathered effect can make the difference between a rather plain looking top, or a top that has a nice visual effect. This effect can be made by sewing a tunnel, threading the tunnel with cord or elastic and pulling it tighter.

But why would I spend so much time on a complicated tunnel construction if I can create the same effect in just a couple of minutes? In this post I’ll show you how. Let’s start out with a plain top. I made this one from lycra, but all stretch fabrics and knitted fabrics would work for this technique.



I finish the edges, then take a piece of elastic and pin the top to the fabric. I then use the pins to create a guide for the elastic. The elastic is free to move in between the pins, yet remains in place. I prefer starting on the top so that’s where I’ll start sewing.


Taking the top with my I use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch the top 3 mm/ 1/5th” of the elastic into place.


I then pull the elastic towards me and continue sewing. Make sure that the underlying fabric stays smooth. Feeding the fabric and the elastic through the machine, it will look like this from the inside.



When turned inside out, the effect is clearly visible.


This top is part of a skirt and top combination that I made for the student recital in June. The pattern of the skirt can be found here.

student recital 2016

I love to hear from you if you used this technique and liked it! Let me know in the comments below or on facebook. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! If you enjoyed this post and 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.

Lengthening a skirt

Living in the country of some of the tallest people in the world means that I am used to being fairly average in length. I am 176 cm tall, which is three inches short of being six feet tall. Or, as google informed me:

length according to google.png

After buying several second hand costumes through the internet, I noticed that I am roughly 10 cm/4 inches taller compared to most dancers. How do I notice? Because most of the time, the skirt is too short. I hate short skirts, because it breaks the body line and it looks like I’ve outgrown my costume lengthwise. One of the reasons for me to start making my own clothes was because it was nearly impossible to find pants that were long enough.

A while back I bought a gorgeous second hand costume that I suspect is a Hannan. No label though, so I can’t be sure. The beadwork is superb, very pretty with holographic sequins and seed beads. And it also happens to be too short. Hm. I’ve worn this costume before but it never quite felt right. This summer I am overhauling my costume stash and fixing all the things that need to be fixed and this costume was high on my list.

As an extra challenge, I try to use the materials I already own, as my stash is overflowing. In May I turned two blue chiffon veils into a circle skirt. I needed a blue circle skirt for my student recital and the fabric was a bit too heavy for intensive veil work anyway. The left over scraps were turned into one long piece of fabric, app. 12,5 cm/5 inches wide. I didn’t measure the length but it was slightly longer than the edge of the skirt.


I finished all edges of the fabric strip, then used a long, loose stitch along the top edge of the strip. Pinning the beginning and the end, I started gathering the ruffle and pinning it onto the hem of the skirt. It took a while to get the fabric evenly distributed but it worked. I used my sewing machine to secure the strip to the skirt and I need to hand baste the edge to finish the seam neatly.


I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! If you enjoyed this post and 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.

Gold mesh costume – part 2

This is where I get to take everything apart! In order to reuse the mesh, I am deconstructing the bra and removing the beads and pieces of mesh. If the hook and eye closures are in good shape, I will reuse those too. The bra base doesn’t work for me so that one will be thrown out. The bra is edges in gold seed beads that are in good shape so I’ll reuse those too.

This is what I got to work with for the bra.

gold mesh bra 01

I’ve covered the Dina bra base with fabric. For the construction I chose to add side straps that are non-stretch so I can add mesh to the sides too. In addition to the non-stretch part, I’m adding elastic covered in fabric to the ends of the straps so the finished bra will be a bit more comfortable to wear and easy to resize while I get back into shape. I used the gold beads to edge the bra with a bit of beading, adding an extra bit of sparkle.

gold mesh bra 04

I am  a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I’ve been sewing and crafting stuff for over twenty years, for theaters, dance costumes, historic costumes and regular clothes.. If you enjoyed this post and like to kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydanceon Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook and I might write a blog post to answer your costuming question.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!



Minty fresh costume part 2: the skirt

Costume sketch for blue/green costume

A couple of months ago I started working on a blue/green costume. I covered a Dina bra base, rope beaded the edges and covered the strap. Then life happened: I was the producer/teacher/stage manager/sound engineer for the ‘Arabian Nights’ shows in December, that certainly was a lot of fun. During Christmas I had a personal matter that asked for all of my attention and after New Year I needed to work on promotimg and teaching my weekly classes.

All very valid reasons why I didn’t continue working on the minty fresh costume. What also didn’t help is that I cut into one of the backpanels of the skirt by accident and I don’t have more of the blue fabric. The skirt design needed to be completely redone to make up for that mistake.

Below is the drawing of my original design plu

Costume sketch for blue/green costume
Costume sketch for the minty fresh costume. A close up of the bra is in the upper left corner

s the updated design. As you can see, there’s a bit of an hourglass line going on in the skirt that should work wonders.

I find it hard to continue and finish costume projects that are put on hold for some time. A good example is the green velvet costume that I started in 2007 and finished in 2011. An even better example is my to-do box that contains costumes that I will probably never finish. But! Finishing a project is very important for my state of mind. Unfinished projects are like skelletons in my closet, they are in the back of my head taking up space that I rather use for new projects.

with that in mind, I cut the new patter pieces and made the matching skirt. Sure, it isn’t a complete costume yet, but all it needs is some chunky beading and a bit of fringe to take it to the next level. And with that in mind, I am putting it back into the to-do box.

I dare you to post about one of your unfinnished products on your blog or facebook. Tag me and we can act as an ‘unfinished project support team’ for each other.


How to cover straps with no visible seam

I am still working on the minty fresh costume, albeit slowely. I recently covered the shoulder straps for the bra. As I don’t want to add beading to the bra straps, I wanted no visible stitches on the outside of the straps. Usually I cover straps by wrapping them in the desired fabric, then stitching along the sides of the strap.

This time I used lycra, which made it easier. I first created a tube that fits perfectly around the original bra strap. Turn the tube inside out by using a big safetypin, push the pin through the center to flip it inside out.

IMG_2046[1]I then used the safetypin to pull the white strap through the blue casing. It took a bit of wiggling aorund to get this right but it worked.

IMG_2048[1]I then smoothed the outer casing until the seam was neatly on the inside of the strap and there were no more wrinkles. I then used a straight stitch to keep the casing in place: one time straight acros the bottom (with a piece of white still visible). On the top, I folded the top edge of the casing over the edge and stitched it in place. Left is an exmaple of the bottom that will be attached to the bra and hidden by the lining of the bra. On the right is the example of what the top of the strap looks like.


Haven’t had tme to actually attach these to the bra, but I will get there soon! A bit of a bummer was that I cut up one of my skirt pieces by accident to make the casing for the straps and I now have to rethink my skirt design. More about that later.