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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Making a Ruffled Hem

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

I am trying my hand at making a 2-layered, chiffon, handkerchief skirt, and I've found your 8-point skirt advice most helpful! However, since I'm very new to this, I was wondering how to sew the hem of the skirt to give it that "puckered" ruffled look. Do you just edge-stitch it like usual and let the natural folds of the skirt give it that tousled look? Or is there a trick to working with this material?

To see what I mean, check out the skirt in this picture of Stevie Nicks. Click on the photo to see it in more detail.

Stevie Nicks

---Fabric Freshman



The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Fabric Freshman,

I'm betting that Stevie Nicks is wearing silk chiffon. This is softer than synthetic and drapes quite differently. You can find it in the nicer fabric stores in colors, and the price varies a lot. I buy silk chiffon for a low price in white online and dye it.

Also, she may be wearing her handkerchief skirt cut on the bias instead of the straight grain of the fabric. This would stretch slightly when sewn, creating that rippled appearance when hanging. And the edge hem is extremely small. Stevie Nicks might have a rolled scarf hem, which is done on a specialized serging machine. I just bought a special foot to do this for my own Juki serging machine.

--The Costume Goddess



Additional Comments from Shira

Another name for this type of hem is lettuce edging.

If working with a knit fabric, this hem can be made by stretching the fabric while sewing the hem.

If working with a woven fabric such as chiffon, the handkerchief skirt will need to be cut so that its edges are on the bias rather than on the straight of grain. Stretch the edges while sewing the hem.



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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 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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