Part 1 – Purple and gold dress

Adding gussets to create a wider skirt

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.

Dina belllydance bra base
Dina bra base

How did I do it?

I’m a trial and error kind of person and the process went a bit like this:

  1. Put on dina bra base
  2. Put on dress, hike it up untill the desired height, covering the bra. Pin fabric of dress to bra base
  3. 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.


The dress with the bra base pinned to it


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.

Picture of bra pinned to dress


Adding gussets to create a wider skirt
Adding gussets to create a wider skirt

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.

Time management

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.img_7644

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.


Thanks mom!

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.




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.

Historic/fantasy costuming: the purple dress


Besides belly dance costumes I made my fair share of every day clothes, gothic clothes, historic and fantasy costumes. As I am not off on a holiday this summer I decided to rummage through my old pictures and relive the glory days. This is not a belly dance costume but I figured anything costume related might pique your interest.

This purple taffeta dress was made with McCalls 4144. It’s now out of print. The white eyelet lace fabric has lilac and gold thread in it and looks really pretty and delicate up close. The bodice closes with lacing in the back and is fully lined with white cotton. One of the lessons I learned is that synthetic fabric looks pretty but is very sweaty when worn. It didn’t stop me from making more costumes in synthetic fabric, but I always packed a hand fan and water when I was wearing a dress shaped personal sauna.

Image 010

The bodice has plastic boning in the lining and this is the rare dress where the off the shoulder style stays in place and looks nice all the time. The downside was that raising my arms was nearly impossible! I made this costume somewhere around 2002 and I wore it at the Wave Gothic Treffen Festival in Leipzig, plus during some Dutch events around the same time. The costume jewelry round brooch in the center of the neckline was purchased at a flea market in Leipzig and is set with AB rhinestones that reflect purples and whites. The last lesson I learned was that a velcro closure on a shoulder bag paired with delicate fabric didn’t work: the underskirt ended up with some nasty pulls from the Velcro.

I ended up selling this dress around 2008 to make room for new costumes. The picture below was taken at the Catherijne Convent in Utrecht, a medieval almshouse that is available to the public. Image 002

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. 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.

Super quick belly dance bra

Our little one is almost five months old and we’re getting into a daily routine that works with both our day jobs, the kids day care, the dog day care, my weekly bellydance classes, my husbands weekly classes and rehearsals, bellydance events and keeping the household running. No wonder I feel a bit worn out!

Working on a costuming project or with my sewing machine is my way to unwind after a busy day. When the baby is asleep, the dog is dreaming underneath the coffee table and the laundry and dishes are done, I hop on the couch and chat with my husband or we watch a bit tv together while I sew. 

For a recent hafla I needed a purple dance bra but I didn’t have time to completely rework a badic bra, or buy supplies. Instead I bought a basic purple bra from an outlet I could visit duringg my lunch break. I kept all the straps and decided to add beads to make it more glamorous. I found a bit of leftover gold trim in my stash from one of the first costumes I made and stitched it to the top of the bra.

I unearthed a bag of gaudy plastic beads, left over from when I completely remade a Neckelman’s bra. I started adding beaded drapes to the bra, starting on the outside and slowly working towards the center of the bra. The whole thing took me about two hours, which meant it took me about three days to finish, right on time for the hafla.

It worked well on stage and it is very comfortable to wear. I wouldn’t recommend it for professional performances and such, but as a quick bra for a student troupe performance it worked like a charm. What are your favorite quick diy projects?

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 Bellydance on 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!  

Peacock jersey maternity dress

Peacock maternity dress

So many things to do, so little time! In the past months I’ve searched for (and found) maternity clothes that are comfortable and pretty. To my disappointment, most of the maternity dresses are rather flimsy and have little to no wshape. My waistline has moved up 10 cm/4″ and is a lot less pronounced, but that doesn’t mean I want to look like I’m wearing a tent!

I’ve been playing around with regular sewing patterns so I could make some maternity wear myself. I am now in my eigth month and the importance of having maternity wear that is also suitable for nursing is hitting me. That’s why I made a wrap dress from a pretty jersey print (it’s a fake wrap: the front panels are sewn instead of tied) with a V-neck. It can easily be used for nursing, if needed.

I used a pattern from Knip, february 2015. To be more precise, it’s this pattern and it can be ordered as a pdf pattern. It has attached sleeves, a v-neck, fake wrap front panels and an A-line skirt. Best of all, as it only has four patttern pieces, this was going to be a piece of cake! I’ve had this amazing printed jersey in my stash for over a year now, thinking about making a dress but not actually getting to the point of making it. I decided to go for it. When making maternity wear,I recommend using jersey with 5% lycra as hit will hold it’s shape and allows for extra growth. I made this pattern in EU size 38, which is my not-pregnant hip size.

Peacock dresss pattern

Adjustments to the pattern

I made a couple of small adjustments. I decided to not raise the waistline, in order to make it more wearable for after the baby is born. Besides, the tie can be used to pull the waistline in where it currently is. I added a bit of length to the sleeves because I have long arms, and I added roughly 10 cm/4″to the middle front panel of the skirt to create a bit more room for my belly. The sleeves are meant to be 3/4 and will remain that way, because the pattern piece fits nicely on 1.50 m wide fabric fold along the grain. If the sleeves were a seperate pattern piece, I could have have gone for full length sleeves.

peacock dress adjustments

Sewing the dress

Lucky for me, putting the dress together was fairly easy. I used a stretch stitch on my sewing machine for the seams and put it all together in roughly two hours. That’s what I call a nice result for an afternoon of sewing! I reinforced the neckline with seam tape, folded the seam inwards and stitched right through the tape so the neckline would not stretch out of shape. If you haven’t used seam tape yet because you’re intimidated, don’t be afraid and give it a go. It took me a minute or so to apply (like vlieseline, it bonds with heat) and it made a lot of difference in the shape and stability of the neckline. I didn’t get my twin needle out but sewed the bottom hem and sleeve hem with parallel straight stitches with a slight stretch to it.

Seam tape


For daily wear I’ve made a matching tie, but I was planning on going to a hafla (bellydance party) and more bling is always a good thing for such an occassion. I made a gold tie out of a scrap of gold printed lycra and topped it off with a gold flower. Instant party dress!

Wear and fit

It has quite a good fit for such a basic pattern: the neckline is not too revealing but still wide enough to use for nursing thanks to the pleats in the front panels. The waist comes down a bit too low for my current shape: if I had made this pattern when I was six months along and/or I didn’t want to nurse, I’d probably made the waist higher. The length of the sleeves worked out for me, and the skirt hits knee length. I gathered the extra fabric of the front skirt panel in the middle and sewed it to the top. A very basic adjustment with the desired effect. If I wanted to go for a sleeker silhouette, I could have used the same A-line skirt as it was. The jersey is stretchy enough to allow for the baby bump.

 peacock dress at hafla

If you are looking for maternity patterns, I recommend checking out similar patterns for jersey dresses and adding a smidge of extra fabric to the skirt part. After delivery I can always remove the extra fabric and create  a sleeker silhouette. Here’s an outdoor shot with the matching tie and the rare occassion of me wearing heels. I am 36 weeks pregnant and just got back from the hairsalon, which is always a good moment to take a picture

Peacock maternity dress

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!

Pink Turkish costume part 1: the materials

For a duo performance on April the third, we’ve been practicing and choreographing a song from Asena’s 2005 cd. We didn’t decide on costuming yet, but I assumed we’d wear old school Turkish bra and belt sets. I still have my first pro costume, an ancient Bella bra/belt that I bought second hand from my teacher. However, something unexpected happen: I had a Bella costume that didn’t fit me, and my fellow dancer fell in love with the costume and bought it from me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bella costumes: she creates beautiful costumes, using high quality crystals and holographic sequins. Her bead work is amazing, made into almost lattice like curls and shapes. In short, my fellow dancer had a kick-ass modern style Bella costume and asked me if she could wear it for the show. We agreed that she could, but I sort of forgot that I haven’t got anything similar in style or bling to match.

That’s when I decided I should make a modern Turkish style costume that would look good on stage next to a Bella. To make matters more complicated, I’m on a rather tight budget (that’s why buying a costume was not an option). I do have a lot of time on my hands and that is a real advantage in this case! I plan to finish this costume in four weeks, and will update often on the progress and problems I run in. Today part 1: the materials.
I mentioned the tight budget, right? So I dived into my fabric stash first, searching for a suitable base fabric, stones, rhinestones, sequins and other stuff. I came up with a lot of Swarovski crystals that I bought four years ago when I was working on a red fringe costume. Other then that, nothing.

I spent two days browsing the internet looking for the right materials and decided on using holographic foil print lycra as my base fabric. Bought it from and it arrived within 24 hours. I also bought 10 m of AB rhinestone chain from Kralen Studio for the much needed glitter. this is what the fabric and rhinestone chain looks like:

I did some more browsing and found holographic cupped sequins on I wanted flat but settled for cupped as I’m pressed for time and I figured it would work too. I bought three colors, as multiple colors help to bring extra depth and interest to the bead work. Here they are:

And lastly I needed iridescent beads for the fringe and 3d bead work. I ended up at Empire Beads from the UK and bought two types of 4mm bugle beads, purple and pink:

The beads and sequins haven’t arrived yet, but I’m working as fast as I can to have the belt/bra base ready for when they do arrive somewhere next week. You might have noticed how I used EU suppliers. I choose EU stores because I needed the materials fast and I didn’t want the dreaded import taxes to ruin my parade.

That’s it for now, more on the belt pattern tomorrow!

sewing project – purple melaya dress

We bought the fabric on the market last weekend and found an amazing glitterdot fabric with holographic sequins. I really detest the stuff, but it looks amazing on stage so we went with it anyway. At 2 euro’s a meter mistakes are affordable.

We went with burgundy red and purple velours as base colors, with gold sequins as accents. The fabrics:
I took a basic dress pattern, readjusted to kneelength and made a basic dres out . Despite stretchy fabric I added a zipper so we could easily change between performances. I like the shape of the dress, but the sequin fabric doesn’t drape well for volants. It’s a killer on stage and when moving though, so that’s good. I tried adding a ruffle along the neckline but ended up with the farao-collar look and removed it again. I’m taking it with me to practice tomorrow to show the others and let my partner try it for size. How about adding a pattern by glueing sequins on the dress to brighten up the purple?

Asymetrical Egyptian costume- update I

Since I screwed up on the dress I might as well do something fun with the leftovers. I designed a modern caïro costume from the leftovers and I think I can make it if I scrape everything together. This is the belt sofar:

I wanted an assymetrical beltshape, preferably seperate from the skirt because it’s more versatile. So I started of with a basic egyptian belt pattern, made it asymmetrical, covered it in black burned out velvet:

Then cut strips of the right size, gathered them at regular intervals, pinned top and sides to belt base and worked from there evening out the gathers. Pinned then hand baste into place:

Stitched rhinestone chain on the draped area’s for some bling. I’m considering adding chunky bella style draped fringe to black area’s, maybe some swags hanging from the bottom, and that’s it. After all, modern Caïro style is all about being minimalistic, isn’t it? I’ll scan the design sketch when I’m back from Barcelona next weekend.

Turkish vest part II

This is the finished turkish vest. I put my gold bra underneath, but I want to make a gold coin bra to go with this costume, together with a gold coin belt.

and I finally cut the pieces for the pink harempants that I want underneath the purple brocade panel skirt. The beaded border will be on the bottom of the legs: