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A Review of

The Costume Goddess Tells All:
Arm Costume for Bellydancers

by Dina Lydia




Dina Lydia provides a variety of ideas on how to extend a belly dance costume out onto the arms to balance the rest of the look, camouflage problem areas, and add glamor to the overall look. It includes photos and instructions for sleeves, gauntlets, armbands, and drapes. Cover



Fact Sheet


The Costume Goddess Tells All, Volume 4:
Arm Costume for Bellydancers


Dina Lydia




Dina Lydia & Blair Johnson


Nonfiction: Costume Instruction



Number of Pages


Published In





This is Volume 4 in a series of books about belly dance costuming written by Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess. In this installment, Dina offers inspiration and instructions for a variety of belly dance costume pieces that can be worn on the arms, including sleeves, armbands, and gloves.

The book opens with a photo gallery showing assorted dancers modeling their costumes with assorted arm decorations. In all, the gallery features 34 pictures of different arm garments.

The next section talks about different body issues such as heavy versus thin arms, long verus short, small versus large bust, and how to decide which type of arm costuming might be most flattering for each of these areas. This is followed by a brief review of sewing tools and techniques.

From here the book moves forward with its instructional section. It covers different kinds of sleeves, armbands, gloves, and drapes. For each item, it offers basic instructions on how to make it, how to decorate it, and how to vary the basic concept for different looks. This section is illustrated with many drawings showing how to create the patterns and assemble them.

This book is shorter than some of Dina's other Costume Goddess books. However, she also charges a lower price for it, so it still offers reasonable value for the money.

The book offers a large variety of creative ideas for arm costuming, some that would cover the arm and others that would merely accent it. Troupes looking for costume ideas could use the suggestions in this book to create an original look for their ensemble, and solo dancers will find many ideas for enhancing their costumes to differentiate themselves from the ranks of people wearing mass-produced Egyptian bra / belt / skirt sets.



Is It Right for You?


You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You're looking for ideas to incorporate into a troupe costume.
  • You have specific issues with the appearance of your arms (such as scars, too thin, too jiggly, etc.) that you would like to camouflage with costuming.
  • You feel as though your arms look too bare with your current costume and you would like ideas on how to extend your costume design to include them.
  • If you like Dina's articles in her Ask the Costume Goddess column on this web site related to arm costuming. (See the ones related to arm costuming in the Related Articles section at the bottom of this page.)
  • You found the costuming section of The Belly Dance Book edited by Tazz Richards to be valuable. (That section was written and illustrated by Dina.)


This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You feel you already know everything you need to know about costuming for your arms.
  • You'd rather not buy a book that covers a topic as narrow as costuming for the arms.



What I Liked, What I Didn't


What I Liked:

  • Throughout the book, as Dina gives instructions for particular garments, she points out situations where they might not be appropriate. These might include cases where the garment would not be flattering, as well as particular styles of dancing where the sleeve might interfere.
  • For many garments, Dina advises which fabrics would work well and warns against those that would not be suitable. This will help people who are new to sewing make appropriate choices.
  • The book is organized very well. Similar garments are grouped together, typically with the instructions for the easiest one appearing first, and then more complex variations of it following. It flows very cleanly and logically.
  • When appropriate, Dina includes detailed drawings illustrating how to draft pattern pieces and assemble them into finished costume items. Many photographs show how the completed items look when worn.
  • The book is attractively designed. The extensive drawings and photos make it visually appealing, and it is laid out in a way that is clear and easy to read. Although I wish it contained an index, the table of contents offers enough detail to navigate around most of the time.
  • Although the majority of photos feature Dina herself wearing garments she created, she includes a large selection of photos showcasing other dancers modeling their own unique arm costuming pieces. These dancers represent a diverse collection of body types and costuming visions, to help you visualize what might look good on you.
  • Many of Dina's suggestions are easy enough for people who are beginners at sewing. Although I wouldn't recommend items requiring circles or gathering for sewing newcomers, there are many items that use simple techniques.


What I Didn't Like:

  • The structure of this book doesn't quite work for me. The first time I opened it, as I paged through the opening 24 pages of photo gallery, I found myself wondering when I was going to get to the primary "meat" of the book. Later in the book, there are instructions for garments that do not include photos of how the finished pieces look - items that appear in the opening photo gallery. The book would have worked better for me if more of the photos had been sprinkled throughout the book adjacent to the corresponding instructions for making the items pictured.
  • Like many other belly dancing books, this one is bound with plastic spiral binding. Although this binding does help keep the cost of the book down, it takes more space on my bookshelf than other binding types and it's hard for me to tell which book is which when I'm looking at the spines of several spiral-bound books side-by-side.




Every dancer who would like to wear some kind of costuming on her arms should refer to this book for ideas. Whether your taste leans toward sleeves, gloves, armbands, drapes, or other decorations, you'll find many creative ideas in this book with detailed instructions on how to make them. I recommend it.




My association with Dina (the author) began when she offered to write an Ask the Costume Goddess column for this web site. She is a valued contributor, and I much appreciate the many articles that she wrote for me.



To Buy It


Contact Information

Dina Lydia
P.O. Box 30878
Seattle,WA 98103-0878

Web Site:



Related Articles

These articles were written by Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess on the subject of costuming for the arms. If you find these useful, then there is a strong chance you would enjoy an entire book written by her on this subject.



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