Making a Rectangular Veil
These instructions describe how to make a simple rectangular
veil. This type of veil can be used for an "Egyptian-style"
entrance, or for many of the American-style "veil work"
In an Egyptian-style entrance, the dancer enters to fast or
medium-speed music holding the veil behind her with both hands,
so that it serves as a frame for her. She does a few swirls and
spins while holding it, then discards it off to one side of the
stage and continues dancing without it for the rest of her performance.
In American-style veil work, the dancer enters with the veil
wrapped around her and tucked into her costume. She leaves it
tucked in place while dancing to the opening fast or medium-speed
song. Then, when the music slows down into a soft, flowing rhumba
or bolero, she removes the veil and dances with it. The moves
can include swirls and spins, or wrapping it around herself in
various ways. She often dances with it for the entire duration
of the song, then discards it as the music speeds up into the
The fabrics and trims recommended below are designed to create
an optimal veil for this style of dance. Of course, you are free
to use other fabrics instead if you wish, but the finished veil
might not perform optimally if you do.
Many veil dance movements are suitable for both rectangular
veils and circular veils, but some aren't. In general, rectangular
veils don't work very well for double veil (that is, dancing
with two veils at once), one-handed moves, or cape work. But
the rectangular veil can be very beautiful with other moves such
For a tall dancer, this veil is 3 yards (275 centimeters)
long and either 45 inches (114 centimeters) or 54 inches (138
centimeters) wide. If you are less than 5 feet 5 inches in height
(about a meter and a half), you may find it easier to work with
a somewhat smaller veil, perhaps 2.5 yards (229 centimeters)
long and 36 inches (just under a meter) or 45 inches (114 centimeters)
Thread, Trim (see below)
In a perfect world, the ideal rectangular veil would be made
of a very sheer fabric, that drapes beautifully, moves beautifully,
and has enough shine to catch the light beautifully. Unfortunately,
fabrics that meet all those criteria are very, very rare. So
here are some suggestions for fabrics that come close to that
ideal for a beautiful rectangular veil:
- Georgette. Lovely sheer fabric, and moves beautifully, but
not shiny. You'll have to use shiny trim to add some sparkle.
- Chiffon. Beautifully sheer and drapes well, but not shiny.
You'll have to use shiny trim to add some sparkle.
- 15 Denier Nylon Tricot. Inexpensive and nicely sheer, but
doesn't move as beautifully as georgette or chiffon. A nice beginner's
veil if you don't want to spend much, but other fabrics would be better for a professional dancer.
- Foils. For example, liquid gold & liquid silver. Shiny
enough to capture the light, and move beautifully. Unfortunately,
- China Silk. Too opaque, but it has a bit of sheen and moves
- Silk Habotai. Light-weight and floats beautifully.
Fabrics To Avoid
Fabrics you should avoid because they don't move very
- Tissue Lamé. Too stiff and too opaque.
- Heavy Satin, Such as Bridal Satin. Too stiff and too opaque.
- Brocade. Too stiff and too opaque.
- Organza. You might think it's a good choice because it's
sheer and sparkly, but often it's much too stiff to make a pretty
- Nylon Net. It doesn't catch the air, so it won't move well.
- Lace. It has a tendency to get caught on the sequins, rhinestones,
coins, or other decorations on your costume.
- Charmeuse. Either polyester or silk. Shiny enough to capture
the light, and moves beautifully. Unfortunately, not sheer.
How Much Fabric To Buy
If using nylon tricot that comes in widths of 108 inches (275
centimeters), you can get by purchasing just 1.5 yards (138 centimeters).
If using fabric that is 45 inches (114 centimeters) or 54 inches
(138 centimeters) wide, buy 3 yards (275 centimeters).
Trim is optional. It depends on what kind of effect you want. People usually don't put trim on the light-weight silk veils such as the beautifully-dyed ones made of silk habotai, because it inhibits the floating quality. However, other fabrics such as polyester chiffon need it for body.
If the trim is too light and the fabric doesn't have the floating quality, the veil will
seem limp and shapeless. If the trim is too heavy, the veil will droop
instead of filling with air while moving with it.
particularly like single-strand sequin-by-the-yard trim. Youll
need 9 yards (825 centimeters) of trim to go all the way around
all four sides if you use fabric that is 54 inches (138 centimeters)
Trim that is too light includes ribbon or soutache braid.
Trim that is too heavy includes sequin trim that is 1 inch (2.5
cm) or more in width.
I usually choose trim that is the same color as the fabric.
So, if I make a blue veil, I use blue trim. That makes the veil
more versatile — I can use it with costumes involving either silver
or gold, and it won't clash. However, it can be very pretty to
use trim in a color that contrasts with the primary veil color,
especially if it picks up another color in the costume you'll
be wearing when you use the veil. Another thought is to use multicolored
Another option for trimming a veil is the Bead-and-Sequin "Embroidery" used along the edge, as shown on the edges of the green Turkish skirt on the instructions page.
Making the Veil
Cutting It Out
Fortunately, this should be easy — whatever yardage you bring
home from the store, that should be pretty much your veil's finished
shape! However, you should carefully lay it out on a flat surface
and make sure the cut ends have been evenly cut straight across — some
fabric store personnel cut jagged edges that need to be trimmed.
Hem the veil on all four sides, using a narrow hem that is
1/4 inch (.6 centimeter) wide. Click
here for more detailed instructions on making this hem. Even
though two edges of the veil are probably selvages that aren't
likely to ravel, it's a good idea to hem them anyway because
the hem will give more strength to the edge and help it hold
up better under the wear and tear of dancing with the veil.
Sew the trim into place, either by hand or by machine, whichever
you find easier to do. If you're not very experienced at sewing,
you may want to avoid using your sewing machine on any trim that
has sequins in it, because sequins have a tendency to break the
needles in sewing machines and you won't appreciate that aggravation!
Or, follow the instructions for the bead-and-sequin embroidery elsewhere on this web site.
Other articles on this web site related to veils include:
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