Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shameless Marketing for

You all will be pleased to learn that Marhaban Designs is giving belly dancing costumes away. Just go to and subscribe to the estumes Bellydance group.

You'll be notified of the give-aways. Just today Carol Ward of Canada won a hand-made black and gold ghawazee dress. See how you can also win!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sometimes Simple can be so Elegant

Recently I found a royal blue blue blouse at a thrift shop that had glitter in the fabric. It was a beautiful stretchy material that laid so elegantly across the bra I added it to, it reminded me of the styles of the 1940s.

I love how the fabric draped around the bra that can be worn strapless or not. I had some sturdy clear straps that I attached to it.

But knowing that so many dancers these days don't want to show their belly outright and are looking for something below the bra that is somewhat translucent.

I had some gorgeous stretchy netting that changes from gold to blue to gold as it moves. (Wish I'd bought more of this fabric.) I decided to add the netting to the bra and let it drape down. But that wasn't enough so I added gemstones kind of hodge-podge to the bra and the netting.

Here's how it turned out:

Here's a shot from the back:

I think this will catch light really well while you're dancing. What do you think?

I added it to in the hope somebody might buy it. It's a 40D.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Making Hip Scarves from Thrift Shop Fabric

I don't know about you, but I get tired of seeing the same old thing over and over again. I also get tired of hip scarves that are made to fit size 2 ladies - and only size 2 ladies, it seems sometimes.

That's why I fell in love with a hip scarf design I discovered a few years ago that consists of two parts: One for the front, and a separate piece for the back. The design works for any size dancer.

The two pieces are identical in design.

Each piece consists of four pieces:

  • The part in black will tie around your hips. Personally I prefer fabric that is stretchy for this part and be sure that the fabric is the kind of fabric ties nicely and stays tied while you dance.
  • The part in red will be the scarf that covers you. Naturally, this part can be any shape you want it to be. (I like to use stretchy fabric for this part also.)
  • The two green parts, are only attached to the red part and hang down in a draped effect. I believe that these two parts should be translucent, but this depends on your taste.
I've been working on one that I am making from a piece of black lace for the tie, pale green chiffon with shiny gold dots, and a blouse I found at the thrift store.

I got very lucky because I found a stretchy red, black, and pale lime green blouse in a size 3X - meaning I have lots of fabric to work from. This blouse is a blend of nylon and cotton. Keep in mind that if you are going to paint something, that cotton blends work VERY well with fabric paint.

Here's a pic of the fabric after I've sewn on some red gemstones:

The gemstones add quite a bit, to the paisley design, but I wanted a richer look so I painted the fabric with gold and bronze glitter paint:

Here is the finished product with the black lace tie and the pale green strips added to it:

I'm going to be making a bra to match this one so look for the set on

If you make a hip scarf and are looking for a place to post it, do so on Here are the instructions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making Beledi Dresses from Thrift Store Finds

When you put on a belly dancing event, you'll want to be sure that there are enough different kinds of music being played and, to keep people from being bored, you'll want to make sure there are lots of different costume changes.

One of the costumes that can be a big change of pace are beledi dresses. There are many different kinds, in fact, has an interesting page devoted to the different kinds of belly dance dresses available in this article.

I don't have to remind anybody how bad our economy is. There just simply aren't jobs out there for those of you who are looking. I happen to be one of them so I know what I'm talking about. The ones that are advertised usually aren't filled. Again, no secret there. Most of the time you can interview for the job but in the end the company won't end up filling that position. It's very frustrating. Some people get hired only to get laid off within a few days.

Any way, enough venting. My point is that most people nowadays don't have the funds to buy a new costume. So I'd like to tell you how you can come up with some really great ways to get attractive costumes on the cheap. I've already written an article on how to get unique harem pants and I've written an article on how you can turn a slinky evening dress into a really nice mermaid costume.

Now I'd like to let you in on a secret of how you can come up with a really different beledi dress right from the thrift store. First, let's talk about what a beledi dress is. It's a costume that goes on top of your costume. In other words, it's a long semi-transparent covering you put on over a sparkly bra and harem pants. For those of you who are a little curvalicious, a beledi dress can hide imperfections in the belly area. That's why lots of us like them :-)

They can be expensive, but I've got a sure-fire way you can take a thrift store find and make it into very unique costume. If you go to your local thrift store, you'll probably find a few two-layer sheath dress like these dresses:

These four dresses are all good candidates for beledi dresses because each of these:

  • Has a straight cut, with no waist.
  • Has an outer layer and an inner layer.
  • Has an outer layer that is see-through.
These kinds of dresses can be found at thrift stores. I've found quite a few of them. Some of them have a chiffon see-through outer layer and some of them are made of crochet or lace. Any of these types are fine. Don't worry about the fact that the dress is plain. You'll fix all that and you'll have fun doing it.

When you pick the dress, my advice is to pick a size that's larger than what you wear. Sheath dresses tend not to be stretchy, so I like picking one that's at least one size larger than what I normally wear, however, I'd go for a dress that was two sizes larger also. Remember after you finish doing everything with it, a large size will not be a problem. Usually wearers

After you've picked out a dress you like, the first thing you're going to do is to cut out the underneath layer. Just cut it away from the see-through layer the best you can. Be careful because usually the precious outside layer is delicate. Don't worry about the seams on the shoulder line. You'll decorate those before you've finished.

Before decorating your dress, there are two things you'll need to do:

  1. Neckline - Decide what kind of neckline you'd like to have in your beledi dress. There are two options:
    • Leave the neckline the way it is and add jewels or whatever to the neckline to make it look nice.
    • Cut the neckline into a deep V so that your bra will show through.

    Before you make the decision, go out on Google and do searches on beledi and saidi dresses and see which one appeals to you more.

    Personal opinion: I like cutting them in a deep V because the dress will end up hiding most of the midriff, but it still looks daring and it gives you a chance to show off your nice bra.

    If you want a nice V, I suggest that you put it on, and then stand in front of a mirror with a piece of chalk and mark exactly where you should cut.

  2. Sides - On the sides, slit the dress (usually up the seams) to where you think it's appropriate. For me, I prefer to wear harem pants underneath so I tend to like to cut them very high up. The higher you cut them, the more comfortable the dress will be. (This is my personal opinion.)

    After you've cut the dress up the sides, reinforce the top of the slit by taking a few stitches across the seam. This will keep it from ripping.

Once you've gotten the dress cut the way you want, you need to do something very important to the dress, since most likely you're not going to hem the edges. (You can, but I don't. You'll see why later on.) you need to apply FrayCheck to the parts you've trimmed. This wonderful little tool will keep your dress intact.

You can purchase FrayCheck at your local fabric store. It's cheap and you'll end up using it quite a bit.

Fun part: Now you're ready to start decorating!

This is where you can get creative. I use gemstones and glitter paint, but you can use a multitude of things. In addition, you can hang things on them. You could use ribbon or strings of beads that would move when you dance. You can get very creative with these.

I decorated this one with emerald gemstones and silver and green glitter paint. I used the keyhole design in the front which leaves the bra area exposed:

This one is made of a maroon crochet material. I cut it low in the front and then I used gold glitter paint to outline the figures in the crochet:

This is a black one I worked on. I outlined this one in gold:

This is one I'm still working on. I'm using topaz gemstones and silver on the zebra stripes and gold and bronze on the other parts:

As you can see, I like to use the existing design in the fabric and simply embellish what's there.

For the sides, I like to cut a wide area all the way to the thigh area. These are two examples of how I highlighted the edges of the fabric with fabric glitter paint:

If you make any beledi dresses and want to sell them, put them on Here are the instructions.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Making Mermaid Skirts on the Cheap

Mermaid skirts are so beautiful. I love how they show off a dancer's body yet they show movement by the v-shaped fabric at the bottom.

This article will tell you how you can go from a used slinky evening gown to a mermaid skirt:

As you can imagine from the image, when the dancer twirls, the red triangular sections billow out, yet the top part of the skirt, stays glued to the dancers curves.

Rather than breaking the bank, consider this option for making mermaid skirts:

  1. Go to your local thrift store and check out the evening gown selection. Look for a clingy stretchy dress with an interesting fabric. There are
    lots on the racks and many of them are especially glittery.

    Don't always go by size because I've found size small evening gowns
    that fit a size 16 lady perfectly. So hold them up to your hips and stretch it to see if it's right for you. Remember mermaid skirts are worn tight.

  2. After you've picked out your dress, go to your local fabric store and pick out an appropriate material for the V's.

    Don't think that you have to select the same color or even kind of fabric for the V-shaped areas. Get creative. The more the contrast, the more interesting the design.

  3. Don't leave the store before picking out some very thin trim for your skirt. Pick something that will sparkle and catch the eye. You'll need enough for all your V's and the entire bottom of the skirt.

  4. Most likely your skirt will already have at least one slit. Some already have two slits for you. I simply use the slits that are there and I cut out two more. If you have a seam,use a seam ripper.

    Make sure the two new slits you make are the same length as the two that are already there. Although, if you want to get creative, you can make two of the slits one length and the other two another length.

    The skirt in the image above, has eight slits in total, but the ones I've made have four. This is up to you. The more slits the more it billows when you turn.

  5. You're now ready to sew the fabric you purchased into the slits. My suggestion is that when you cut the fabric, you make each length of the triangles the same length. The triangles may seem two wide to you, but a dancer wants lots of room and the more fabric you use on those triangles, the more flounce it will have when she's dancing.

  6. After the triangles are sewn into place, put your trim on each V and around the bottom of the skirt. You shouldn't have to hem anything because the trim will do that for you.

  7. All you have to do now is to cut off the top of the dress and put in an elastic waistband where appropriate.
Enjoy your new mermaid skirt! Here's one I'm just finishing up:

Hint: If you're creative, you can do something with the top of the dress also. Consider making some gauntlets or even cover a bra with the fabric.

If you make a mermaid skirt and want to sell it, put it on Here are the instructions.

Making Harem Pants For Less Than $5

Everybody wants a great pair of harem pants whether you dance Cabaret or Tribal. There are lots of places on line you can order plain harem pants, but if you want a nice pair of harem pants with some real pizazz, consider making your own.

You can go to the fabric store, but you'll soon find that the material there is very limited as far as types of fabric and the designs available for the fabric. Another problem you may encounter is that putting the elastic in the waist is something even an experienced seamstress will find challenging. So what do you do when you're really not handy with a needle and thread?

I've got an idea I'm sure lots of you will want to take advantage of. I find broomstick skirts at thrift stores and I change them into harem pants with just a few easy stitches.

There are two really great advantages I have found in doing this:

  • First, you don't have to make a waistband.
  • Second, the fabrics used in already-made broomstick skirts are usually superior
    and more varied to what you'll find in a fabric store.
For those of you who don't know what broomstick skirts are, trust me, you've seen them a million times. They are long skirts with a generous amount of fabric that have a thick elastic waistband and are quite often made of thin cotton. The image shows an example of a broomstick skirt.

Once you've got your broomstick skirt, you're ready to make it into a pair of harem pants. This consists of three easy steps:

  1. Cut out a U-shaped area in the center of the front of the skirt. Then cut out a matching U-shaped area in the back side.
  2. Turn the skirt inside out and sew the U-shaped area together so that there is a crotch and two legs.
    (If you don't like sewing, get some fabric glue and simply glue them together.)
  3. Make a place to put the elastic for the bottom of the legs.
    Many times you can simply use the hem that's there and insert the elastic through the opening, however, if there is no hem, fold the fabric over and then thread the elastic through.
You now have an interesting and unique pair of harem pants.

Get these African-inspired harem pants at

tie-dyed harem pants at

Get these multi-colored harem pants at

Get these leopard harem

If you make some harem pants and want to sell them, put them on Here are the instructions.