Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tribal Fusion Costume Week 1 – Initial Designs

I’ve been a big fan of belly dance, particularly tribal-style since I was young – it’s inspired a lot of my costume creations including a few full belly dance costumes for myself, so I was really excited to be asked to create a bespoke costume for the dancer Lyza of Chthonia Bellydance.

I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to document the whole process from idea to creation here on my blog, sharing my process and hopefully some helpful hints and tips for making your own costumes. I’m hoping this will be a weekly thing as I work on the costume – this week I’ll start with the planning and design.

It’s really important that the costume you are creating is what the customer wants. Having a meeting with them is usually the best way to find out what they’re hoping to get out of it – whether they have any design preferences, a style of dance which the costume needs to work with, and most importantly, their personality and character as a dancer so the final design is something that represents and is unique to them - this is a custom costume after all.

One of the first things I did when designing the costume was to come up with a few initial drafts based on my chats with Lyza and from my impressions of her style. Her main criteria was to have something with an earthy look including reds, browns, and golds so my initial designs were largely based around these colours.

Its always a good idea to make sure that there is a good variety in your designs. Forcing yourself to think outside of that one image you have in your head will open up possibilities that you may not have thought about. you might even find that the client ends up liking this different direction too. There is also no harm in mixing and matching elements from each design so the more variety you have in the designs, the more options you and the client will have to decide from.

Design 1 

This design had a very flamenco styling to it – drawing from the frilly saloon girl designs used a few years ago by the Belly Dance Superstars tribal group. Layering harem pants over skirts gives a full look and an immense amount of movement during dancing.


Design 2 

By far my favourite design of the three. This uses the halter neck straps that are similar to other tribal fusion costumes and includes Kuchi Brasstone coins as opposed to the tarnished silver ones which seem to more widely available. I find these give a lovely rich feeling to the costume and are a great way to fulfill the need for gold.


Design 3

I love the loose ruffled lacy fabric over the shoulder straps on this one, when you are creating a decorated bra, you don’t want it too look like a boring bra that came from a high street store, this is a great way to do that.

The hanging layered yarn threads and hip scarves create a more cutesy design than I was hoping for this costume.


The next step of the process is to work with Lyza on a final design that she is happy with. I’ll cove more about that in next weeks blog.

If you have any questions or comments on week 1 I’d love to hear them.

Striped wide Harem Pants Part 2

In part one I took the harem pant pattern from my existing pants and begun cutting the main body of the pants and stitching the front and back together.

Then was the task of finding/ making a suitable wide waist band. I found the prefect t-shirt to upcycle into a waist band.


I used the bottom of this t-shirt to create the waist band which meant that it already had stretch to it and just needed applying to the top of the main pant body.


I stitched a couple of lines of elasticated smocking to the top of the waist band to ensure a slightly more gripping band at the top, and also a line at the join between the t-shirt and the fabric.

Then I finished off the ankles with the same double row of smocking and double turned the edge.

Ankle Cuff

Striped wide Harem Pants Part 1

I had some lovely harem pants from Nomad clothing and was gutted when they stopped selling them, so I decided that I should take a pattern from them and make my own.

I first layed out the original pants and found they could be easily converted into a flat pattern.

This gave me a rough guide to start cutting the pattern. With a few tweaks, adding seam allowances and sectioning the back and front to cut separately as they are the same shape, I had a usable pattern to cut the fabric.

Cutting Out

I used folded the fabric at an angle, bottom corner to top raw edge so that when the two pieces were cut the stripes would go diagonally around the body instead of straight down.
I then stitched the bottom and side seams, remembering to leave a gap for the ankles ensuring this gap is wide enough for the feet to go through (I forgot to make mine big enough the first time).

Paper Heart Mobile Pendant Shade

This lovely mobile idea I found on the Being Brook blog via Filpboard inspired me to use up all my wall paper samples into a ceiling pendant shade for my living room.

I used a bunch of old lamp shade wires and rebuilt the shade including a small cage to make sure none of the paper falls would hit the bulb, and lapped all the wiring with fabric to give it a nice finish.

Heart Lampshade

I love the end shade the colours and patterns on the wall paper add to the pretty girly look.

Hand spun Hairpin Lace Mitts

I had a week to come up with a quick hand made gift – I decided on fingerless mitts with a stripe of hairpin lace down the center to make them a bit more interesting.

I’d already started spinning some finger weight wool (I’m slowly trying to get through the 9kgs of Ryeland and Gritstone I had cleaned over the winter) and thought that maybe it would be possible to use with my new Knitmaster Zippy De-luxe.

After a little 10×10 sample I found it worked a dream, and with a small adjustment to the tension I was away.

Fiona Mitts

I used 58sts x 75 rows per glove on a tension of 10 for the first 6 rows and then continued on tension 7 for the remainder. This gave me mitts measuring 16cm in length and a circumference of approx 18cm.

The hairpin lace was worked on a narrow width with 30 loops each side for each glove using a 3.25mm crochet hook.

Fiona Mitt Detail