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Fitting a Belly dance costume "off the rack"

by Dahlal

Fatima asks "How can you fit a bedlah off the rack?"

Finding a costume off the rack that fits you perfectly, without any alterations, is very rare. Normally, at the very least, you have to move the hooks on the bra and belt. However, many common fitting problems can be easily solved with a few simple sewing tricks. Several common problems and their solutions are featured below.

A one-piece belt gaps on the sides and/or back because it is not cut with a curve.

Tip 1:
Stretch and sew a piece of 1/2" or 3/4" wide elastic along the top edge of the belt, on either side. Repeat on the back of the belt, if necessary.

Tip 2: Make a tuck, or dart, on each side of the belt. (This can be done by opening up and cutting into the belt for a better fit, but isn't necessary.)

Tip 3: If you need to increase the overlap on the belt to make it fit, be sure you align its bottom edges before sewing on your hooks. This will help maintain the curve of the belt.

A straight-cut belt is several inches too long and needs to be cut down.

If the beaded flatwork is not symmetrical, the belt can be cut down on one side. First measure yourself to determine the length you need it to be. (Be sure to add about 1 to the measurement to allow room to finish off the edge when you're finished.) Mark the measurement on your belt and cut into it, removing the excess material. Tie off and secure any loose threads and whipstitch the edges of the belt. Finally, re-bead the cut edge using the beads you removed.

The bra's side straps (next to the bra cups) gap or fold out a slightly.

Make a tuck, or dart, in the side straps. This should solve the problem.

The back bra straps are too short.

If your costume came with any narrow, firm, beaded cuffs or anklets, use them as extensions. Simply measure the amount you need and add at least an inch for finishing. Then, cut the piece to the proper size, tie off the loose threads and sew under the raw edges. Finally, sew the extension to the back strap, re-bead any areas if necessary, and re-position the hooks.

The bra cups are too small.

If the costume comes with narrow cuffs or anklets, sew them along the top edge of each cup to add more coverage.

A lycra skirt is too long and it has a row of beading along the bottom that you don't want to lose.

First try on your skirt to determine how much it needs to be shortened. Have a friend help you measure. Then, remove the beaded trim, cutting about 5/8" above the beadwork. Next, starting from the bottom, cut the skirt to your desired length. Re-attach the beaded edging by pinning right sides together, making sure all raw edges are even. Sew the seam as close to the beading as possible. Turn down the beaded edge. Finally, tie off and re-bead any areas that need finishing.

A lycra skirt is about two inches too short.

If the casing of the skirt is made of lycra, simply open it up and add another casing made from matching hem tape. This will lengthen the skirt as much as two inches.