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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Bras for Large Bustlines

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

I want to make my own bras completely from scratch. I can't easily find bras with my size DD and wonder if you have any suggestions. I tried a D once and ended up falling out! I can't find bra patterns and have tried, so any help you can give would be great!

Your costumes are elegant and an inspiration

--Topless Shaheena



The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Shaheena,

I am unbuttoning my shirt, looking down, and realizing that I may not be the person to be giving out expert advice on the cups-runneth-over dancer's dilemma. Can anyone who speaks from experience help me out here?

I can't stop myself from giving an opinion, and that is to think long and hard before attempting to make your own bra from scratch, even if you are an accomplished seamstress. The bra, especially in larger sizes, is a complicated construction of engineering. (And whalebone is expensive and hard to find these days!) Do not compromise!! It must be perfectly fitting and properly supportive. Don't worry about its plain-jane appearance. You can always cover the bare bones with the most ornate fabric and decorations.

Surely with the internet handy, you can find a manufacturer that produces a suitable bra in your size, even if you have to special-order it. I remember reading of one called the "Minimizer". Has anyone heard of this?

I have another suggestion. If you feel the bra is too revealing to dance in, and have some sewing skills, try making an ornate vest to wear over it. The ghawazee vest in this photo is cut low enough to reveal the coins or beading on the cups, but covers the lower edge, and parts of the midriff, sides, back, and possibly upper arms, for more modesty. It could have a row of coins or tassels at the bottom, it could be scalloped or pointed, it could be velvet or metallic brocade. This would be a creative challenge worth your energy and not an effort leading to frustration - which I'm afraid is what would happen if you tried to make your own double-D bra.

Dina Wearing a Vest

--The Costume Goddess



Additional Thoughts

After this question was published, a dancer named Kat responded with these additional thoughts to help Topless Shaheena...

You will need to buy a good supportive bra in DD or even in a DDD. A DDD bra will have more room for embellishment. You will probably have to use heavy material or a medium weight material with interfacing to line the bra on the outside. I have found it helpful to line the inside as well — this makes it strong enough to give adequate support.

You may replace the straps with more colorful ones. I highly suggest using straps that are more than an inch wide, to spread the weight over a larger surface. You may also want to pad them a little or use a colored twill tape for comfort, depending on the weight of your bust.

You will want to cover the whole bra with the material. Then remove the small hooks from the back and replace them with the sturdier pant/skirt hooks in the back. Embelish the bra as you wish.


Another response with additional helpful comments:

You can order cup inserts to go in existing bras. They are hard cup forms that will transform even a sports bra into a costume piece. I make sure I get bras with 4 hooks in the back. That way I don't have to change out the hooks. I just cover the entire bra, front to back, with the fabric of my choice.

--My Cups Runneth Over



Note from Shira

Note from Shira: although my usual web site policy is to not recommend specific vendors, I will sometimes do so for products that are very difficult to find. It's extremely difficult to find bras in the extra-large sizes that are suitable as a base for costume construction, so I've made an exception to that rule to bring you two web sites that The Costume Goddess found which sell them:



Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to belly dance costume bras 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 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 For reviews here on 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:


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



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