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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:

Sleeve Variations

by Dina Lydia


All about belly dancing! Explore belly dance!

The Question

Dear Costume Goddess,

On your main page, you're wearing these long "drippy", almost handkerchief style (sleeves???) gauntlets. They're not really the "sleeve" type, though, and don't cover the arm at all (except for where the "points" hang down over the upper arm and some of or close to the elbow).

Any suggestions for making gauntlets are very helpful since I really don't have any "accessories" for any of my costumes. I've seen some really beautiful "sleeves" that are like big chiffon "bubbles" that are slit lengthwise down the arm, attached at the top and bottom (from just under the elbow to the wrist) with what looks like sequin covered elastic, or perhaps elasticized sequin bands. I've attempted to make these, using only what I could visualize from the video that I saw it on, but can't seem to get it right. {{{sigh}}}

--Jalilah Sahar


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The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Jalilah,

I'm a big fan of sleeves and arm adornments, which can make the difference between a bra top that looks like a real costume piece and one that looks too much like beaded lingerie.

Here are a few ideas for easy arm coverings that don't require the construction of a fitted sleeve:

The drapes that you see in my main black and white photo are simply triangular shapes cut out of sheer fabric (silk chiffon being the most beautiful, nylon "stretch" chiffon the easiest) as illustrated, with two sides on the straight grain at right angles and the third side on the bias. The edges are narrow-hemmed as small as possible. When hemming the bias edge I stretch it a bit (almost impossible not to) so that it appears slightly wavy. The edges may be ornamented with small pailettes or sequins. When the triangle is suspended from one point of the bias edge, it will tend to form a pretty spiral. In the photo, my costume has three triangles on each arm. Two are tacked onto the upper armband at front and back of the band, and one is suspended between the upper armband and the wristband, like a small "wing" with the arm extended.

Dina With Chiffon Sleeve Drapes

In this color photo, which was taken later, I'm wearing long fitted lace gauntlets with the same bra, so the triangles have been moved to the bra straps, where they drape over the shoulder at front and back.

My triangles measure 20" by 12" on the right angle, but I have short arms. I suggest you cut the triangle shapes out of a cheap fabric first, to determine the proper size for you.

Click on the photo to the right to see it in more detail.

Dina With Sleeves

Using the same idea, any strip or several strips of soft, lightweight fabric can be gathered and sewn to a wristband and armband, or wristband and bra strap to form a sleeve effect. TIP: the use of wide stretchy sequin trim, though easy, can look amateurish. A more elegant armband/wristband can be made with other trims, or jeweled fabric bands, that are tacked to a hidden elastic (armband) or fasten with hidden snaps (wristband).

One can do the same with multiple strings of by-the-yard-beads or pearls.

Making Sleeve Drapes

A bias strip of chiffon or other soft fabric folded into pleats and sewn to front and back of bra strap will form a shoulder drape.

--The Costume Goddess


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Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to costuming for the arms 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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