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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:

Chain & Coin Bra

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

I like the look of the chain belts and bras, and they aren't very expensive, but have no idea how to affix the bra cover. Could you explain that, and also what the bra itself should be covered in? Should I put something between my skirt and the belt to help hide the waist line of the skirt?

Thank you so much for information on belt pattern making, and alterations! I live in a small, fairly isolated town, and I met my instructor only four months before she moved from the area... but I'm hooked on belly dance! Now I unfortunately have no examples of costumes other than on great sites like this one, and the videos I've bought. I made a go at a sequin belt, but it just doesn't fit right. I'm so happy I know how to fix it without starting completely over! I am so thrilled! Your costumes are gorgeous, and you look wonderful in them. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge!

--Clueless Belly Flopping Novice



The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Novice,

If you wish to wear a chain bra over your costume bra, start with an underwire bra that is already covered attractively. You may cover it yourself in almost any fabric that is not too fragile, and it is always easiest to do this with a stretchy fabric that has "give" and doesn't ravel. If covering the bra yourself is too much of a challenge (I could write ten pages on this subject) there are ready made bras you can purchase which look similar. I believe Victoria's Secret makes one covered in velvet. We don't want to see plain old spandex under the chains!

Then you can try on the bra and fit the chain or coin bra over it. When it is adjusted properly, (a friend could be helpful here) use safety pins to secure it in place, then use heavy button or beading thread to tack the chain all around the edge, and if it is heavy, at points in the middle as well. Similarly, I would fasten the coin or chain belt at several points through the skirt with tiny safety pins under the fabric, so that it doesn't slide down or twist around as you dance, showing the skirt edge, which can look messy. If the skirt edge is especially bulky or ugly, you could fasten a nice hip scarf over it before adding the chain belt.

Thank you for the compliments and the encouragement — it makes me feel all warm and bubbly inside. Someone has noticed my efforts!

--The Costume Goddess



Tip From a Reader

After this article first appeared on this web site, Leslie Yamada (aka Sahla) sent in the following excellent tip:

"I have a suggestion for you. I read the piece about using floss-vs-thread to sew on coins because you have to have 1/4 inch of slack so the coins will jingle. To keep the jingle & lose that ugly 1/4 inch of exposed button thread, use a single round bead. Go through your fabric, then the bead, then the coin, and then back through the bead pulling your thread snug, but not tight. You can use either matching (Example: gold/gold) or contrasting (gold/silver or color/metallic) beads. You can get a lot of variety in your color patterns this way and it's easier to keep the thread length the same. You can get even more variety using multiple beads or bugle beads."

Leslie Yamada provided this photograph to illustrate her bead and coin technique on a stomach cover.

Beads and Coins on Stomach Cover
This diagram illustrates the technique.
Beads Used as Spacers



Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to making belly dance costume bras include:



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:


All about belly dancing! Explore belly dance!

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



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