There are several vendors who make clothing patterns particularly well suited to the needs of belly dancers. The manufacturers I'm aware of who make costume patterns that work well for belly dancing are:
This pattern company offers a wide variety of costume patterns. There are a total of 36 patterns available, for garments ranging from historical-style ethnic clothing to modern-day glittery costume items for nightclub shows. 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. The patterns are printed on strong, heavy paper, which makes them quite durable.
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).
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 10 or 12 needed to go with size Large on this pattern in order to have it be big enough to fit around her rib cage.
To the left is another pattern from Atira's Fashions called "Hathaya's Harem Pants."
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. This admittedly can be a real nuisance. Still, as 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.
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.
The patterns made by Atira's Fashions are available from many vendors who sell belly dancing supplies. Ask your favorite local vendor whether she carries Atira's patterns. If not, try one of these. Both sell their products via mail-order worldwide, and I have personally had favorable experience in buying products from both:
1528 South DeAnza Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95129
Phone: (+1) (408) 257-9655
Fax: (+1) (408) 527-9099
P.O. Box 68
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Phone: (+1) (408) 373-6762
Fax: (+1) (408) 373-4113
Web Site: http://www.artemisimports.com
There aren't very many patterns under the Sula title, but the ones that do exist are good quality. The diagram at left 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. The patterns are printed on lightweight tissue paper.
The only vendor I know of who sells Sula's patterns is Belly Dance!, which is owned by Leea. Ask for her catalog so you can see the full range of dance costume patterns that she has available. I have personally had favorable experience in buying products from her in the past. To contact her:
1235 Boulevard Way
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
Phone: (+1) (925) 937-7852
The Folkwear line of patterns has been around since the early 1980's. It is currently owned by Lark Books. I have many Folkwear patterns in my collection, and I highly recommend them to people who enjoy in-depth information about the historical garments represented by the patterns. 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. The patterns are printed on strong, heavy paper, which makes them quite durable, and they have cutting lines for three sizes: Small, Medium, and Large.
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 Syrian dress pictured here, 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.
Folkwear patterns are usually found in alternative fabric stores--not the large chains, but the small, independent stores. You can order a catalog directly from Lark Books, but I haven't done so myself. To contact Lark Books, the publisher of Folkwear patterns:
Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: 1-800-284-3388 (U.S. only)
Web Site: http://www.larkbooks.com/
When we find more interesting sites, or
If you know of additional manufacturers of costume patterns that are suitable for belly dancing, please e-mail me information about the pattern company and how to contact vendors who sell them, they'll be added.
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