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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Making a Belt Pattern

by Dina Lydia

 

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The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

In your Fitting Belts article you describe pinning the darted pattern on top of a fresh piece of paper and cutting a flat pattern. I'm confused. If you add darts to material (paper or fabric) you create a three dimensional effect (at least in my experience). How do you effectively transfer the 3-D pattern to 2-D? Are you removing the darts from the initial pattern and then transferring the darts to the new pattern? I like your method up to the point of transferring the pattern - please help!

--In a Belt Pattern Quandary

 

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The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Quandary,

Sorry I didn't make myself clear. You are correct — a dart is a method of transforming a flat, 2-dimensional strip of cloth to a garment that will fit over a rounded, 3-dimensional body.

Another way of doing the same thing is to turn a flat strip of cloth into a CURVED strip of cloth, that is, one that is larger around the bottom edge, just like a woman's hips. (This curve is what saves us from the danger that some men must live with — the possibility of their pants falling down.) That's why I place the darted pattern onto a fresh piece of paper and trace the curve (folding in half to make sure it's symmetrical!) It saves me the trouble, and the extra bulk, of folding and stitching darts into my belt form.

The curve of the belt form will vary depending on the curve of your hip, as I've illustrated. A small hip and flat rear will require only a slight curve, An average hip and medium-sized rear will have a more pronounced curve in the belt form. If your hip or rear is extremely rounded, you may have to include the darts after all, because what you need is a large curve at the top edge of the belt, and less towards the bottom edge. You simply must try on and adjust your belt pattern until it's perfectly fitting, and for this a friend is helpful.

Once your have your individual belt pattern perfected, you may make paper duplicates and experiment with shapes and angles: points, curves, scallops, notches, center medallions, etc. I'm absolutely convinced that any sort of shaping on the edges of a belt makes it a far more flattering costume piece than a plain old straight belt. This subject deserves a column by itself.

Diagram Showing Belt Patterns

Have I explained the baffling belt mystery?

--The Costume Goddess

 

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Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to belly dance costume belts include:

 

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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 wedding gowns.

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 figures.

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.

Photo of Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess

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:

Photo of Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

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:

 

All about belly dancing! Explore belly dance!

The contents of this page are copyrighted 2009 by Dina Lydia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is forbidden.

 

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