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Belly Dance Costume Patterns

 

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Why Not Mainstream Patterns?

Although mainstream pattern companies such as Simplicity, McCalls, and others do sell "harem girl" patterns, usually in the back of their catalog under "Halloween Costumes", their patterns are rarely suitable for use as belly dancing costumes. They start with the assumption that the person buying the pattern will probably use it to make an outfit that will be worn only once, on Halloween, and then discarded. Consequently, clothes made from such patterns are usually ill-fitting and not well suited to moving vigorously while wearing them. They bear little or no resemblance to what "real" belly dancers actually wear.

Therefore, dancers who wish to make their own costumes will find patterns better suited to the needs of belly dance performance by seeking out the vendors whose patterns are designed specifically for belly dancing.

 

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Atira's Fashions

Overview

This pattern company offers a wide variety of costume patterns. Patterns include blouses, vests, skirts, veils, pantaloons, accessories, panels, dresses, caftans, and more. The vast majority of them include cutting lines for Small, Medium, and Large sizes. If you're larger than a size 14, these patterns are probably not suitable for you unless you're very good at alterations.

Types of Patterns Available

  • Total of 36 patterns offered
  • Some suitable for Egyptian folkloric
  • Some suitable for Egyptian and Turkish historical
  • Some suitable for glittery nightclub shows
  • Includes some patterns for men's garments

Type of Material

The patterns are printed on strong, heavy paper, which makes them quite durable.

Shira's Experience

Pictured at right is an example of one of the patterns available from Atira's Fashions. It is called "Saadia's Vest", and it provides instructions for making a fitted midriff-baring blouse with various necklines and sleeve treatments.Unfortunately, Atira's patterns tend to run small — someone I know who normally wears size Medium needed to go with size Large on this pattern in order to have it be big enough to fit around her rib cage.

If you decide to try Atira's patterns, you should first make a prototype out of very inexpensive fabric such as muslin or broadcloth to test the fit.

Costume Pattern by Atira's Fashions Titled Saadia's Vest

Although the sizing issue is inconvenient, so long as you have access to someone with sewing experience who can help you alter the patterns, they're a wonderful tool for making your own costumes.

Where to Get Them

To contact Atira's Fashions:
Atira's Fashions
3935 South 113th
Seattle, WA 98168

Phone: (+1) (206) 767-3357

Web Site: www.atirasfashions.com

Cover of Atira's Pattern Titled Hathaya's Harem Pants

Other Notes

Atira's Fashions patterns were originally known as Jehlor Patterns. They were created by Lorie Graff and Jean Wood to fill the need for dancers, musicians, and other people who wanted to dress in clothing inspired by the Middle East. In 1987, the pattern business was sold to Atira (Rita Hatton). Unfortunately, Atira has not expanded the product line to include any additional patterns after buying the company.

If you are new to Atira's Fashions, a good place to start is to purchase a copy of the pattern catalog. The catalogs are often available from the same vendors who sell the patterns themselves. These are printed on sturdy paper, and lavishly illustrated. Even if you don't decide to purchase any of the patterns, you'll probably enjoy paging through the catalog to get costume ideas.

 

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Sula

Overview

There aren't very many patterns under the Sula title, but the ones that do exist are good quality. The diagram shows the picture from the pattern envelope of a one-shoulder midriff blouse and pantaloons. There is also a pattern that includes both circle skirt and pantaloons, and another with instructions on making a dance bra and belt set.

Types of Patterns Available

  • 3 patterns available
  • Designed for glittery nightclub shows
  • Include only women's garments

Type of Material

Printed on traditional tissue paper.

Shira's Experience

The instructions are well-written, and the patterns are easy to use.

Where to Get Them

Belly Dance!, which is owned by Leea. To contact her:

Belly Dance!
1235 Boulevard Way
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
U.S.A.

Phone: (+1) (925) 937-7852
Web Site: www.bellydc.com

Cover of One of Sula's Patterns

 

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Folkwear

Overview

The Folkwear line of patterns has been around since the early 1980's, and has survived being bought and sold by several different corporate entities. It is once again owned by a small business that nurtures the product line.

The patterns have cutting lines for three sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. Because the patterns follow traditional ethnic styles with simple cuts, larger-sized people can easily determine how to adjust the patterns to fit their bodies.

The primary thing that distinguishes Folkwear patterns from all the others is the depth of information they offer. Folkwear doesn't offer just patterns with cutting lines and construction information. Many of the patterns, including the Gaza dress pictured below, come with detailed instructions and patterns for embellishing them with embroidery, quilting, ruching, or other techniques appropriate to the locale and historical era of the garment. Most of them also include suggestions for color and fabric choices for people who would like to make a garment that closely resembles actual historical clothing. Folkwear patterns also employ historical clothing construction techniques — for example, using gussets instead of set-in sleeves or curved openings.

Cover Image from one of the Folkwear Patterns

Types of Patterns Available

The Folkwear line of patterns includes ethnic patterns from many regions: Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America. It also covers a number of historical U.S. clothing designs.

  • There are 9 patterns related to Middle Eastern and North African clothing
  • Suitable for folkloric and Tribal-style performances
  • Includes one pattern suitable for men's garments
  • Excellent choice for Renaissance Faire and SCA costumes
Cover of the Gaza Dress Pattern sold by Folkwear

Type of Material

The patterns are printed on strong, heavy paper, which makes them quite durable.

Shira's Experience

I have many Folkwear patterns in my collection, and Folkwear is my favorite pattern company. I have appreciated the excellent cultural and historical lore that appears in many of the patterns, and I have found the instructions for the embellishment easy to follow.

Where to Get Them

Folkwear
The Old Fire Station, Box 189
Barnardsville, NC 28709-0189 U.S.A.

Phone: 1-828-626-3100
E-mail: mail@folkwear.com
Web Site: www.folkwear.com

Cover of Egyptian Shirt Pattern by Folkwear

 

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Madame X

Overview

Madame X is based in Tennessee. She has only a small number of pattern designs so far, but she's working on some additional ones. The sizing makes them friendly even for larger-sized dancers. The innovative use of laces on the Ghawazee coat and baladi dress makes those garments adjustable in size and therefore very well suited for troupe use, dancers whose weight fluctuates, and pregnant dancers.

Types of Patterns Offered

  • Only 3 patterns offered
  • Two based on historical clothing, suitable for folkloric dance, Renaissance Faire, and SCA
Cover of Ghawazee Coat Pattern by Madame X

Type of Material

The patterns are printed on strong, heavy paper, which makes them quite durable.

Shira's Experience

I have made the mermaid skirt. The pattern is designed to be easily sized to every body type, even very large sizes. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. My finished skirt fit perfectly, but I didn't think it was particularly attractive. I'm considering trying it again with different fabric, and I wouldn't hesitate to try one of the other patterns in the series.

Where to Get Them

Madame X Costumes
PMB 378
242 West Main Street
Hendersonville, TN 37075

Web Site: www.madamexcostumes.com

Cover of Mermaid Skirt Pattern by Madame X

 

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B.D. Patterns

Overview

B.D. Patterns is based in the San Diego, California area. Available sizes make them suitable even for larger dancers — they run up to 58-60 inch hips and bust. They offer a number of very creative costume designs.

Types of Patterns Offered

These patterns are designed primarily for dancers who work in restaurant and nightclub environments.

Cover of BD Pattern 1014

Type of Material

Shira has not used these patterns and therefore doesn't know what type of material the pattern is made from.

Shira's Experience

I have never used these patterns and therefore have no experience to report.

Where to Get Them

B.D. Patterns
735 East Washington Avenue
El Cajon, CA 92020

E-Mail: bdpat@aol.com

Cover of BD Pattern 1011

 

 

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About the Old FatChance Choli Pattern

FatChanceBellyDance used to sell a choli pattern. This pattern is no longer offered on the FatChance web site. Cover of Old FatChance Choli Pattern

The reason FatChance discontinued this pattern is that they worked with the company Folkwear Patterns (see above) to incorporate their choli design into a pattern titled Tribal Belly Dance.

FatChance now steers people seeking the FatChance choli look to this Folkwear pattern.

Cover of Folkwear Pattern Titled Tribal Belly Dancer

 

 

 

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