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Costume Alterations

Here are some tips on costume alterations that I have learned from others or by having my own costumes altered. If you are adventurous, give them a try or you can just bring your costume to a tailor. I believe the best advice I can offer is to tell you NOT to cut your costume! Pinch, fold and tuck, but don't cut. If you want to resell your costume in a few years, it will have a greater resell value and chance as it will fit a lot more body shapes. Also, if your body shape changes you can still adjust your costume! It is really important to have a perfect fit, some of these ideas may work for your body shape and others may not. If you have other tips, that you would like to share, please click here to send them.

Wondering how to wear a body stocking? Click here for more information!

The Bra:

All of our costumes are made in sections , then pieced together, so if you un-stitch them at the connecting hems, your whole costume will not fall apart and you are left holding one piece of sequin! The straps are made quite long, so that they can fit a variety of shapes and sizes. It is easy to shorten them, but to lengthen them involves adding an extender such as using a headband or applique. I usually recommend un-stitching the straps of the bra and repositioning them. In the back, I find if you move them closer to the spine , in a "V" shape gives me the feeling of more support. It also eliminates that terrible feeling of your straps slipping down your shoulders! Other clients have crossed their straps in the back to feel even more secure. I haven't done this myself, but I have heard it works well. Click here to see a picture of this idea.

Some customers like to move the position of the strap on the front of the cup to a point where your breasts appear to have a bigger cleavage line. For me, this is almost in a straight line from the center of each breast and up, but you should decide for yourself. For those, like myself, who have a short waist, positioning the straps so that the horizontal strap moves up a bit rather than just straight across gives the illusion of a longer back. I suggest sewing the extra length of straps inside your cup, rather than folded under the back strap. Again, I recommend not cutting your costume. The long horizontal strap is great for the fact that if you have room you can add two sets of hooks and eyes. I put one on either end of each overlapping strap. I also change the hooks to "Pant Hooks" which are longer and lay flatter. The hooks on the costumes are fine, but they are specifically used as they are easier to hook and unhook without damaging the costumes. This is important when customers come to the shop or see the items at shows and want to try them on. Click here to see a picture of this idea.

The Belt:

The belts are easily adjustable in the same way as the bras. Maybe you just need to reposition the hooks and eyes. I recommend making the top hook closer to the waist, tighter than the set below. This way there is no possibility of your belt slipping down if they are in a slanted position. Again, on my costumes I change the hooks to "Pant Hooks".

If your belt is quite large, it is important to remember to keep your pattern in the center on both the front and back of your costume. The belt is made in two pieces, stitched together. You can unstitch them and sew the pieces together overlapping, right through the sequin. Again I don't recommend cutting your costume. It may take some strength and you may even need to use pliers to push the needle through all the material, but sew the two halves together at a point where your pattern will sit centered. Then you will adjust the other side equally by positioning the hooks and eyes accordingly. Click here to see a picture of this idea.

The Embellished Skirt:

The embellished skirt that is sold with the full costumes sets is a easy to alter as well. To make it smaller in the very top, I suggest making a dart (folding the fabric slightly at an angle and sewing it down). Another option is to open the zipper, cross one side of the zipper over the other. Use a hook and eye to fasten either side so it will lay flat and stay secure. The audience doesn't even know it used to be a zipper as the fringe work covers it and it lays flat.

To shorten the skirt's length I recommend not cutting your costume, but rather folding the hem line under and tacking it down. This way if you sell your costume at a later date, the skirt may still be worn by someone taller than your self. You may also try ruching (small folds or gathers in a verticle pattern) the fabric in varies places to shorten it where necessary. It depends on the costume's design, but generally this is a quick fix. This looks great under the buttocks, especially when someone is flatter on their behind as it pulls in the fabric, thus form fitting and enhancing the shape.

If the upper waist band is too large, I pull the elastic slightly and sew it tighter, cutting the extra elastic off once I am certain the fit is correct. Some dancers like a more firm elastic or maybe a wider or thinner elastic, so they will replace the orginal one with an elastic more to their own liking. I find this is done easiest by using the orginal thread casing and I just weave the new elastic in before pulling the old one out.

If the skirt is too tight along the top of the waist you may try using one of the accressories to extend the skirt's waist. In most cases this works best in the zipper area.

Some Final Tips:

Bra Fringe: I like to tack my fringe on the bra a little more securely. I tend to be very clumsy and can easily catch it on something. Just sew it to the costume directly. If you have a short waist you may even like to completely attach any fringe that hangs in a half circle. Just stitch it all the way along the base of the bra. This will pull the length of the fringe up and show more belly, giving the illusion of a longer torso. Also, some of my customers have been very creative with the fringe. In some cases they have removed it completely or partially. Click here to see "Khurrem" in two of her costumes and how she has altered the fringe! She really has transformed her costumes and they as well as her herself look stunning!

Thread: I recommend carpet thread or any strong thick thread to be used rather than a weak cotton thread.

Cuffs and Headband: If your costume has cuffs, you may want to add an extra set of hooks and eyes to them, again I use "Pant Hooks" as they lie flat. You may even want to use the cuffs around your ankles instead. If you need a little more width, just add wide elastic and sew it down. Your headband should be tight and you may want to use bobby pins to secure it to your hair. If you don't like to the idea of a headband, why not use it as a neck band/choker. At least then you have one less piece of jewelry to buy!
-Lee Ann Ertezuk

Costumers Tips:

1. Preventing "muffin top". In cabaret costumes with lycra skirts - add a layer (or two if necessary) of latex rubber material used to keep rugs from slipping - at the top of the skirt band. This latex material will also keep costumes from slipping up or down. In bra/belt sets: Stuff the lining of the belt with kapok or cotton batting. Also add the latex material to keep belt from riding up.

2. Padding bras: Open lining, add kapok or cotton batting - at the bottom and outer side of the bra cups. To prevent "muffin top" at the bra line under the arms - add padding in the lining at that side point of the bra strap.

3. Another secure way to keep bra straps from slipping. If the overlap is about 4" - 6" - then you can simply hook one shoulder strap of the bra to the opposite bottom band of the bra. Crisscrossing the bra straps in the back. This method changes the bra fit and you will have more cleavage even without adding padding to the bra. And, the crossed straps in the back are higher up on the back - giving you a longer back line. Downside: You can't hook your own bra, you must rely on someone else to hook you into your bra.

4. Keep arm bands and gauntlets from sliding down. Use the laxtex material and sew in a small 1/2" band around the inside top of the arm band or gauntlet. More comfortable than tight elastic and won't slide.

5. If allergic to latex: use a roll-on adhesive available fromwww.FootSmart.com . This adhesive will not damage costumes.
This adhesive is also good for: a) preventing breast fall out from bras. b) Can be used to apply body glitter or jewels, c) keeps clip earrings on, d) Keeps leotards from riding up or down.
-Ma*Shuqa, CA

Sewing without catching the fringe – the new 'press-n-seal' plastic wraps are useful for this. You put a layer under the fringe, then a layer over the fringe, and pres, trapping it inside the plastic. Then while you sew, it's stationary. When you are done, you can just pull the wrap off to free the fringe.

When the bra top is wide in the front and has beads hanging sometimes the width needs adjustment. A small piece of elastic stitched between the cups gives more support and a better fit. Even if the elastic is white the beading will hide the adjustment and the elastic adds to the comfort and fit.

If you have an questions please contact me at buy@thebellydanceshop.com Again, these are just my thoughts and the thoughts of others. If you do decide to alter your costume, it is not the responsibility of Global Textile Network, LLC.
Thank you!
The Belly Dance Shop Team