Ask the Costume Goddess
Ask the Costume Goddess:
Making a Belt Pattern
by Dina Lydia
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
The Costume Goddess Responds
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.
Have I explained the baffling belt mystery?
--The Costume Goddess
Other articles on this web
site related to belly dance costume belts include:
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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