As some of you know, I’m guest performing with Cincinnati’s Keshvar Project for an upcoming show at the Starwood Festival. I’ve been learning new tribal belly dance combinations, rehearsing newly written choreographies, including one that has beautifully flowing fan veils (a new prop to me, and it’s not as easy as they make it look!).
But getting familiar with the music and ingraining the movements into my muscle memory is just part of the fun. With the show less than two weeks away, it’s time to figure out what I’m going to wear. I won’t go into detail yet because I want most of it to be a surprise, but I simply can’t wait to show you the tribal belly dance bra that I just finished making for part of our set.
Etsy and eBay have tons of tribal costuming to choose from, but I’m trying to save both time and money. The following DIY sewing project took me less than three hours from start to finish. Here’s how I did it.
How to Make Tribal Belly Dance Costuming
I started with an existing bra. I went with a nude color and cut some white nylon from a pair of pantyhose to cover the cups by hand-stitching the material to the back of the cups.
These are the materials I had to work with. I spent less than $25 on ribbons, jewelry bits, and necklaces that were on clearance, and I pulled the white yarn from my existing crochet stash. Long necklaces are awesome for draping, as you’ll see momentarily.
I hand-stitched two different styles of ribbon across the cups, which adding texture and design. When you add anything to a bra for tribal belly dance costuming, keep in mind that it’s best to go with the natural curve shapes that we have to work with. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the middle ribbons ended up in straight lines, but I left them as they were, knowing that it wouldn’t be noticeable later in the project.
After the ribbons were sewn on, here’s what else I stitched onto the piece to come to the completed version above:
- One white and one silver beaded necklace (on each cup); this took a simple stitch at the top where the strap is attached to the cup, and another stitch at the center, where the cups meet.
- A silver necklace with a large trinket; I stitched the necklace’s chain to the bottom middle of each cup, letting the trinket hang in the center.
- Two random jewelry pieces from a DIY kit; I stitched these so that they were centered just above where the silver necklace was sewn to the cups.
- White ribbon; I cut a long strand of the same ribbon used over the cups, folded it in half, and tied a basic knot on the bra where the cups meet. When wearing it, I’ll tie the two strands behind my neck in a bow that will drape down my back a few inches.
- Crocheted strands; I love to crochet, and it’s so simple and quick! I made 75 chains, then single-crocheted back into them to create a thicker cord, then sewed the cord onto the part of the bra that goes around to the back and clasps. This way, it won’t look like the white cups are floating on my chest, lol.
Before you get started, lay out your bra base along with the materials you intend to use and play around with the design. This will help give you a visual before you start spending time sewing. As you can see, I ended up not adding the beaded necklaces to the bottom straps in the end, and instead used them to add coverage to the cups. Also, browse random clearance sales for a variety of miscellany to use.
I almost modeled so that you can see how it looks, but I’m sporting one heck of a sun burn right now, and seriously, it just looks ridiculous. By the time the show rolls around I should have a nice little tan to help make this piece glow. (Just being sarcastic here ~ seriously, wear sunblock, friends!)
There are so many ways to make your own tribal belly costuming! Cowry shells, tassels, and coins are always great, too. What else have you used?
Peace, love, and fire,
Stay tuned for my work-in-progress novel about a troubled, insecure girl who becomes a confident fire eater! Click here to Like my page on Facebook and be among the first to know when you can get your copy.