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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Headdress Ideas

by Dina Lydia

 

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The Question

Dear Costume Goddess,

What is the best method for creating a beaded headband? I've seen many poorly constructed and have never gotten my hands on a good one. I also have a very short forehead and no bangs. What is a good width and style? Women with high foreheads seem to get away with all kinds of facial adornments - lucky girls!

You really design some gorgeous stuff! It's inspiring!

--Bareheaded in Colorado

and

Dear Costume Goddess,

I'd like some tips on costume pieces to wear in my hair. Normally I wear my hair loose or with a few little pins to keep it out of my eyes. But now that I have seen dancing photos of myself, I concluded that I must do something else, for it doesn't make me look like "a dancer".

--Oversea Dancer

 

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The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Bareheaded and Oversea,

A costume piece adorning the head frames face and hair nicely and completes the theatrical image we like. I have a few tricks I use to make simple adornments.

But first I'd like to mention that some types of costume pieces on the head can turn into liabilities. Bulky pieces can feel hot and heavy while dancing. Rhinestones and other jewelry (especially on a tiara) can catch and snag veils. Anything fastened to the hair with combs, barrettes and bobby pins can slip or fall out. Tied scarves can come loose. Long strings of beads on a headdress can whip around and smack you in the eye when you spin. Coin headdresses are difficult to keep in place while bending in any direction. So always practice with your headpiece to avoid awkward surprises during a performance.

Drawing of a Scarf

I wear only a headband or twisted scarf and I use elastic to secure it on my head. The elastic is worn under the hair, as illustrated, so it's hidden. You'll need about 12 inches of 1/4" or 3/8" elastic. It comes in black, white, gold and silver. Use what matches your hair best. The white can be tinted with permanent marker.

Drawing Showing Ideas for Headbands

For a headband, use an ornate trim or ribbon 1/2" or 3/4" wide and 12 inches long. I suggest something with sequins or jewels on it to add sparkle. Pin elastic to the ends and adjust the elastic so it fits your head snugly. Sew, tucking raw ends in neatly. Then you can get creative, adding drapes, pendants, jewelry pieces, tiny coins, or beaded fringe.

If your forehead is small (like mine), wear the band at hairline and keep the danglies small or let the headband stand alone. I sometimes sew tassels or long earrings to the sides as a substitute for earrings clipped to my (non-pierced) ears, which can fall off.

Headbands Worn High Vs Low on Forehead

You can also use a padded, fabric-covered rigid headband from the store, again sewing elastic to the ends so it hugs your head. This can be worn low or high on the head. If you have a small forehead it will appear wider. Wear it as is or cover the band with costume fabric, twist a metallic scarf or wide sequin trim around it. The front or sides can be decorated as described above.

Padded Scarf

Another variation uses a long scarf. It appears to be tied so the ends fall down the back, but again, a hidden elastic secures it to the head. I twist the scarf, or "stuff" it with a roll of quilt batting about 10 inches wide to make it rounder in the front. A second scarf can be twisted around this one if desired.

Example of Elastic Bands

 

--The Costume Goddess

 

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Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to costuming for the head and hair 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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