How to Alter a Ready Made Belly Dance Costume

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When looking at Belly Dance Costumes over the internet you may wonder...will it fit? As you cannot try it on before you buy you need to keep in mind a few things when deciding to purchase - Are all the appropriate measurements listed, are there a few photographs of the costume. Listed below are a few things that I look at when buying a costume over the internet.

Most of the time, even if you cannot sew to save your life, you can adjust a costume yourself, though somtimes if you absolutely fall in love with one that is not your size (and the costume allows it) you can get it altered by either a dressmaker or a family member that is handy with a sewing machine or needle and thread.

First - Take all your measurements and keep them handy for future reference.

You will need:

Cup Size


Upper Hip (where skirt will sit)

Lower Hip(widest part, usually the Bum)

Length from upper hip to ankle

Second - Remember that these costumes are made to fit a variety of sizes and as such may need to be adjusted in some way, sometimes a lot and sometimes you only have to move hooks.

Now to the nitty gritty....

I find that most Egyptian costumes have hard to semi-hard cups. These can be a blessing or a pain in the ***e! If you have a small bust you can get away with a bigger cup size (though not too big) in a costume as you can pad it or it comes padded. Also it depends in the way the cup is made, sometimes you will not even need to pad it as it will hug your upper chest and not gape (known as a costume malfunction ha ha). Experiment between a halterneck or an over the shoulder strap as sometimes gaping can be fixed by either.

Another thing about some costumes is that they look pointy or the cup is a funny shape in the front, personally it doesn't worry me if they look a bit funny (unless they have motifs that look like nipples or tassles/beads hanging from the nipple area) as people are looking at you as a whole and not just at your bust)

If you are busty you can take the padding out. If you find that you are falling out over the sides or front of the bra, you can add material (modesty panel) to keep everything in. You can then bead simular designs onto the material or use motifs, fabric paint or leave as is. Obviously though you cannot always fit a melon into an egg cup (lol).

 Unpicking the lining     Cup after heavy padding


This is taken from just under the breast where your normal bra sits. Most Egyptian costumes have long straps so it is easy to adjust the hooks that do the bra up by unpicking and resewing them. Another alternative is to remove the excess strapping and making the bra join as a normal one would or using some elastic to make the straps flexible so it moves with your body. Just make sure that when you are removing beads to secure the ones that staying before you resew.

STRAPS (shoulder or halterneck)

With most ready made costumes the straps are either halterneck or over the shoulder like an everyday bra. With halterneck straps it is easy to use hooks to clasp them to size and either leave the rest dangle or cut them off or if they are a bit short you can add elastic and cover with a simular coloured material or leave as if you are not going to be wearing your hair up so the straps show. With  the shoulder straps you may need to unpick them and either shorten by cutting or lengthen them by adding elastic at the back or at the shouler so any difference is not as noticeable. You can remove any beading by unpicking and removing any excess, then resecuring the line of shortened beads so they will not fall off. The you need to rejoin the shortened length  to where it was removed.


With this measurement I like the Costume to be a close if your upper hip measurement is 90cm and the costume stretches to say 110cm then it would be too big, butif it only goes to 95cm then it is more likely to fit with maybe minor adjustments. Of course you can add elastic on the inside of your costume to make it tighter, though sometimes this can lead to unattractive puckering of the material if you have to add too much elastic. There is the option of cutting the skirt down but as the decoration may be over the seams most of the time this is not possible. With making a costume bigger, you may be able to take the elastic out and make it wider if the costume allows  or unpick the seams and add more material of a simular colour, though again this only works if the beaded decoration hasn't gone over the seams.


                                                        Different elastic options


With the length sometimes you may have to have it taken up or you can wear high heels. It depends on whether there is beaded decoration at the bottom of the costume as to how high you can go. Usually there is beading around the hem of the costume...this can be removed completely and you can resew the beads back on after hem has been adjusted. If there is a motif you can sometimes unpick and remove what you need to take hem up then resecure the remainder. You can also completely remove the motif if the hem needs to come up a  fair way. You can lengthen a skirt by adding a ruffle at the bottom or maybe adding material of a simular or contrasting colour then beading it simular to the skirt. You could also add it to the top as well if costume allows it.

  Motifs & beading can be removed to shorten          

Hopefully this is a help when you see that "must have" costume on the net!!!


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