How to make a professional-quality Belly Dance Costume Bra

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Belly Dance Bra Top Tutorial

Materials used:

  hard-shell bra, stage 1

This is a black hard-shell strapless bra in the first stages of transformation!
Photo above shows the inside view of the bra.
You can see it's been cut apart between the cups, and the cups are now tilted outward a bit more. For straps I use thick nylon strapping, sewn on with dental floss, and they're sewn onto the inside of the cups.
I double the rib straps so they won't cut into the skin, and sometime I fold over the halter straps to reduce the width.
This particular bra will not have over-the-shoulder OR halter straps, but a choker-style neckline with the straps attached!

          with straps added on
(above) Here's the outside view, now with the neck straps and the upper rib straps attached.
The upper ones angle down to meet the bottom rib straps in the back; the first set of trouser hooks are attached now to help with fitting. The choker straps are double thickness, and overlap and hook in the back.

At this point you need to do a lot of trying on, and re-pinning the straps until they're at the right angle. This is, to me, the trickiest part of costume construction - fitting the bra. If it doesn't fit right, you won't want to wear it! Make sure you get it to feel right around the ribs.

You may have noticed I don't use elastic straps. I prefer everything to stay still!

Once you've worn your costume several times the material will stretch and/or compress a bit, which can mean up to 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch gain in size. Starting with a snug fit is easier than making alterations later - just make sure you can take a deep breath without straining too much. (I once BROKE the hook on a newly-made bra just by breathing deeply during a show. Oh, yes! Everyone really sat up and took notice (the kitchen staff even poked their heads out), and I had to go make quick repairs (we're talking safety pins here) to finish the show.

          with stiffening added
Now I've added canvas "awning material" (also called 'buckram') to add structural stability and styling. I prefer a streamlined look over the obvious "cup & strap" look. On this bra I also left the original rib straps with the hooks cut off, just to add bulk.

          covered in costume material
Now the bra is covered with the costume material, in this case a metallic brocade, which will also be used for the belt, gauntlets, and skirt. The red strap will be covered by the other one when the back is hooked.

All that's left to do is adding the fringe and trim...

See the finished costume...



1999-2013 Anthea Kawakib Poole