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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Making Beaded Fringe

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

Your costumes on Shira's site are the most beautiful I've ever seen. You look stunning!! Okay, this might be dumb question: do you have any tips on how to make beaded fringe easily?




The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Lana,

Thanks for the extravagant compliments — always a good way to get my attention!

That is an important, not a dumb question about beaded fringe. (Believe me — I've heard dumb questions.) Beaded fringe is a standard part of most cabaret costumes that's either very expensive (ready-made) or very time-consuming (self-made) to put on.

A super-quickie fringe can be made of inexpensive metallic beads or pearls by-the-yard, cut into short lengths and assembled into a fringe.

But if you mean making fringe with real beads "from scratch", I know one way easier than the obvious method - sewing individual strands to a ribbon. I learned this at a workshop from Vicki Horiuchi. The idea is to make strands of beads that are twice the length of desired finished fringe, then fold them in half and crochet them together. The diagram is a simple approximation.

Vicki slides these beads onto the needle directly from the skein, rather than picking up loose beads one by one. These could be the usual bugle (cylindrical) or seed beads, or much larger ones.

Click on the diagram to the right to see the image in more detail.

Diagram Showing How to Make Beaded Fringe

I like a medium length and thickness of bugle (3/16 or 1/4 inch) if you use those; the very long bugles don't wiggle as fluidly, the very short bugles or seed beads are just too time-consuming to string, and the narrow ones have super-tiny openings. Getting a threaded needle through them is sometimes difficult even with a beading needle. You don't have that problem with larger or rounder beads, and of course, they make up a string and a plump fringe much quicker

Vicki only uses the polished-edge type of bugle, or seed beads, because sharply cut bugles can eventually slice through the thread, though I haven't found that to be a big problem. And she uses top-stitching thread, which is thicker than all-purpose or fine beading floss, but not as thick as button thread.

Each end of the strand is finished with a tiny bead wrapped several times with thread, and a knot. A drop of sealer such as Fabric-Tac could make it even more secure. Leave some about 1/8 inch "play" in the strand: if strung too tightly, the strand will not fold or wiggle fluidly.

Then fold the long strands in half , and chain-stitch them together with a medium-sized crochet hook, using something non-woolly like fine macramé cord, in a matching color if possible. Catch the midsection of the strand in every second chain, or every chain for very thick fringe. Experiment to get the proper size of hook, chain, and fringe. The chain stitch rips open in seconds if you need to start over. Don't take my sketch too literally, because I've used a scribble to represent the chain, but this is the easiest crochet stitch that any book of basics will teach, interlocking loops made by a crochet hook. Leave an inch or so of chain on each end and tuck or weave it into the main chain.

Since the finished chain-stitch edge is so tiny and flexible, unlike a ribbon, it's easy to curve, bend and drape the fringe into any position on the costume you like.

Tassels can be made this way by crocheting enough strands to make up an inch or so of fringe, then rolling it up to make a fat tassel which can be inserted into a cap.

--The Costume Goddess



About the Costume Goddess

Dina has been sewing for more than twenty-five years (yes, she started as a toddler!)

She's also an artist (Maryland Institute of Art) and perfected her sewing techniques apprenticed to various designers, freelancing for small theaters, restyling vintage garments, and altering wedding gowns.

Dina fell in love with belly dancing costumes upon her very first lesson. Now the pleasure of wearing her own designs, and seeing others wear them, offers as much pleasure as dancing. She's become expert as well in altering those troublesome ready-made Egyptian costumes, and modifying designs to flatter individual figures.

She holds workshops in Seattle to teach design and construction of cabaret costumes, and analysis of figure characteristics. She will also give private lessons, or resize or repair a secondhand costume. She's thus earned her Costume Goddess title.

Photo of Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess

The Costume Goddess Tells All Costuming Books

Dina has published six books of her own on belly dance costuming as well as writing nearly all the costuming section for The Belly Dance Book. For information on her series of books, The Costume Goddess Tells All, see her web site at For reviews here on of some of her books, see:

Photo of Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Costume Goddess Photos

To view a photo gallery featuring pictures of Dina, costumes she has designed, and her friends, either click on the choices below or visit her web site:


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The contents of this page are copyrighted 2009 by Dina Lydia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is forbidden.



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