Ask the Costume Goddess
Ask the Costume Goddess:
Making Beaded Fringe
by Dina Lydia
Dear Costume Goddess:
Your costumes on Shira's site are the most beautiful I've
ever seen. You look stunning!! Okay, this might be dumb question:
do you have any tips on how to make beaded fringe easily?
The Costume Goddess Responds
Thanks for the extravagant compliments — always a good way
to get my attention!
That is an important, not a dumb question about beaded
fringe. (Believe me — I've heard dumb questions.) Beaded fringe
is a standard part of most cabaret costumes that's either very
expensive (ready-made) or very time-consuming (self-made) to
A super-quickie fringe can be made of inexpensive metallic
beads or pearls by-the-yard, cut into short lengths and assembled
into a fringe.
But if you mean making fringe with real beads "from scratch",
I know one way easier than the obvious method - sewing individual
strands to a ribbon. I learned this at a workshop from Vicki
Horiuchi. The idea is to make strands of beads that are twice
the length of desired finished fringe, then fold them in half
and crochet them together. The diagram is a simple approximation.
Vicki slides these beads onto the needle directly from the
skein, rather than picking up loose beads one by one. These could
be the usual bugle (cylindrical) or seed beads, or much larger
Click on the diagram to the right to see the image in more detail.
I like a medium length and thickness of bugle (3/16 or 1/4 inch)
if you use those; the very long bugles don't wiggle as fluidly,
the very short bugles or seed beads are just too time-consuming
to string, and the narrow ones have super-tiny openings. Getting
a threaded needle through them is sometimes difficult even with
a beading needle. You don't have that problem with larger or
rounder beads, and of course, they make up a string and a plump
fringe much quicker
Vicki only uses the polished-edge type of bugle, or seed beads,
because sharply cut bugles can eventually slice through the thread,
though I haven't found that to be a big problem. And she uses
top-stitching thread, which is thicker than all-purpose or fine
beading floss, but not as thick as button thread.
Each end of the strand is finished with a tiny bead wrapped
several times with thread, and a knot. A drop of sealer such
as Fabric-Tac could make it even more secure. Leave some about
1/8 inch "play" in the strand: if strung too tightly,
the strand will not fold or wiggle fluidly.
Then fold the long strands in half , and chain-stitch them
together with a medium-sized crochet hook, using something non-woolly
like fine macramé cord, in a matching color if possible.
Catch the midsection of the strand in every second chain, or
every chain for very thick fringe. Experiment to get
the proper size of hook, chain, and fringe. The chain stitch
rips open in seconds if you need to start over. Don't take my
sketch too literally, because I've used a scribble to represent
the chain, but this is the easiest crochet stitch that any book
of basics will teach, interlocking loops made by a crochet hook.
Leave an inch or so of chain on each end and tuck or weave it
into the main chain.
Since the finished chain-stitch edge is so tiny and flexible,
unlike a ribbon, it's easy to curve, bend and drape the fringe
into any position on the costume you like.
Tassels can be made this way by crocheting enough strands
to make up an inch or so of fringe, then rolling it up to make
a fat tassel which can be inserted into a cap.
--The Costume Goddess
About the Costume Goddess
Dina has been sewing for more than twenty-five
years (yes, she started as a toddler!)
She's also an artist (Maryland Institute of Art) and perfected
her sewing techniques apprenticed to various designers, freelancing
for small theaters, restyling vintage garments, and altering
Dina fell in love with belly dancing costumes upon her very
first lesson. Now the pleasure of wearing her own designs, and
seeing others wear them, offers as much pleasure as dancing. She's
become expert as well in altering those troublesome ready-made
Egyptian costumes, and modifying designs to flatter individual
She holds workshops in Seattle to teach design and construction
of cabaret costumes, and analysis of figure characteristics.
She will also give private lessons, or resize or repair a secondhand
costume. She's thus earned her Costume Goddess title.
The Costume Goddess Tells All Costuming Books
Dina has published six books of her own on belly dance costuming
as well as writing nearly all the costuming section for The
Belly Dance Book. For information on her series of books, The Costume Goddess Tells All, see her web site at www.costumegoddess.com.
For reviews here on Shira.net of some of her books, see:
Costume Goddess Photos
To view a photo gallery featuring pictures of Dina, costumes
she has designed, and her friends, either click on the choices below or visit her web site:
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