This is Volume 3 in a series of books about belly dance costuming written by Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess. It provides detailed information on how to make a bedlah (bra / belt set) suitable for nightclub-style belly dancing. (Bedlah is the term Egyptian dancers use to refer to their bra / belt / skirt costumes. It's the Arabic word for "suit".)
The book opens with a photo gallery showing pictures of 12 different dancers wearing 20 different bedlah costumes. Many of the pictures show both front and back views. There are a couple of additional costume pictures elsewhere in the book.
Next is a section that talks about the basics of belly dance costume design: color, design lines, and fabric. Since this topic is covered in great detail in Volume 1 of the Costume Goddess books (Flattering Costume for Bellydancers), this section of this book addresses just the most crucial points.
The third major section focuses in on designing the belt. It provides ideas for a variety of belt shapes to stimulate creative thinking. Dina provides excellent detail on how to create a personalized belt pattern that will really fit the curvy female figure, without unsightly gaps. I found that it took me a great deal of time to work through the overall belt section because it contained a large amount of information. You may find it best to read a few paragraphs, then go off and implement the skills presented there, then return to read some more. Otherwise, you may find it hard to retain all that information. Since I sometimes make my own belts, I read the section carefully, and the advice it gave was quite valid. If you follow Dina's detailed advice carefully, you should end up with a finished belt that fits well and looks great.
The costume bra section opens with a discussion of how to shop for a bra that will be used as the foundation for the finished costume, including appropriate advice for generously-endowed dancers. The section on how to cover a bra with costume fabric was full of helpful advice, and also offers useful tips for creating a decoratively-shaped top edge that makes the bra look more like a costume, less like lingerie. A large number of drawings show a wide range of ideas for designing the straps.
The decoration section addresses use of coins, beads, tassels, fringe, jewelry parts, and drapes for decorating the bra. It emphasizes the glittery nightclub look, rather than the more folkloric coins & chains look. A series of drawings show ideas for drape and fringe placement on both bras and belts, and includes information on how to make your own bead / sequin appliques.
The tummy covers section is just one page, and shows pictures of six tummy cover options with a brief phrase identifying how each was made.
The book ends with comments on caring for the costume.
Dina is very opinionated, and it shows. My advice: if she says something you disagree with, stop and give it some thought. Consider whether she might have a valid point. If you conclude that you still disagree with her after thinking about her logic, then go ahead and make your costume the way you want it to be. But if you don't have much experience with belly dancing costumes in general, you might want to stick close to her advice for your first one because it could be devastating if your first effort doesn't turn out well. You can always experiment with your own ideas after you have gained more experience as a dancer and a costume maker.
Is It Right for You?
You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...
This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...
What I Liked, What I Didn't
What I Liked:
What I Didn't Like:
If you don't have much sewing experience, I wouldn't advise doing a bra / belt set for your first effort. Although Dina does provide a large amount of detail in her instructions and explains things well, these projects are not easy. Start with skirts, veils, simple sleeves, and other easy items first, and don't tackle bedlah until you have more sewing confidence.
Assuming you do have enough sewing experience to tackle this project, Dina's instructions on creating a bra / belt set will definitely lead you in the right direction. I would gladly recommend this book to dancers who feel ready to take on such a project.
My association with Dina (the author) began when she offered to write an Ask the Costume Goddess column for this web site. She is a valued contributor, and I much appreciate the many articles that she wrote for me.
To Buy It
These articles were written by Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess on the subject of making bra / belt sets for belly dance costumes. If you find these articles useful, then there is a strong chance you would enjoy an entire book written by her on this subject.
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