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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Battle of the Hip Bulge

by Dina Lydia


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The Question

Dear Costume Goddess,

I have well-padded hips and rudimentary sewing skills. I am a dab hand at sewing simple skirts and harem pants with elasticised waists, but zippers are way out of my league! Can you give me any tips about how to produce an elasticised waistband that doesn't push my generous hip padding up and over the top of the skirt, resulting in the "overflowing cappuccino" or "muffin top" look? It can be quite attractive in a coffee cup or pastry shop, but tends to detract from a bellydance performance costume!

---Generously Hipped


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The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Hipped,

Yes, tight elastic will cut into soft flesh, creating bulges where we don't want them. This is true at the hip, midriff, back and upper arm (see Flabby Arms article). If it's a problem, we have to find another way to fasten our costumes, or design them differently.

I can think of several alternatives. Making the skirt elastic looser might help, and if it feels like it might slip down, you might sew it or pin it to your hip belt or scarf.

Or avoid elastic altogether, and make a skirt closure as illustrated without a zipper. Make a casing as usual at skirt edge, but first leave an opening at seam long enough (three or four inches) for skirt to slip over hips. Use non-stretch ribbon instead of elastic in the casing, and pull it through to make your gathers, then stitch one end to casing. Try on skirt, pin opening shut, and adjust this ribbon until the skirt sits on your hips where you want it. Then stitch the other end to casing.

Skirt Closure Diagram


Now you have an open seam in your skirt. Neatly narrow hem the opening by hand or machine by turning the edge under twice. Use hooks and eyes, or flat buttons and loops to close the slit. Your hip scarf or belt, and the folds of the skirt will cover this.

Ideally your hip scarf or cabaret belt will cover your hips at an angle as illustrated, with some kind of decoration at center, and this will minimize the appearance of hip bulge, if I may call it that.

Hip Bulge Do's and Don't's

I hope some of my ideas help!

--The Costume Goddess


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Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to costuming ideas for dancers with full hips 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:


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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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