Belly Dance Costume Bra or Lingerie?

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Bra strap alternative. Costume by Bibi Diaz of Las Vegas, NV.

Belly dancers, if you create your own costume bra, go you!

The following tips will help you avoid the mistake of having your costume bra look like lingerie on stage. ūüôā

1. Replace the thin elastic shoulder straps with something else. Wide grosgrain ribbon can do the trick. Underwear bra straps are obviously that AND they do not provide us with the support that a costume bra needs. Plus, the little plastic adjustment ring on the underwear straps are a dead giveaway!

2. Cover the entire cup (and hopefully you choose a hard cup bra) with fabric. The satin or lace of a regular bra is too recognizable as such. This will also hide the underwire line, which you definitely don’t want to show.

3. Do something to cover the part connecting the cups (and definitely don’t use a front close bra–recipe for disaster!). This can be more fabric or a decorative applique of sorts.

5/8" metal hook & eye clasps

5/8″ metal hook & eye clasps

4. Replace–or at least thoroughly cover–the part that goes around your back. On most bras that part is too flimsy to provide adequate support. Do not use the back clasps that come on a bra. They are insufficient. Larger and more secure metal hook and eye clasps like this are available at any fabric store.

And I highly recommend using fashion tape / costume tape (or even better–pasty or toupee tape) to secure your bra to your body to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions!

Costume bras are very different from lingerie bras–and they need to appear as such! Creating your own costuming can be so satisfying. And simple designs are ok.

But we are all able to recognize lingerie at a glance, so be sure that those telltale signs are hidden on your creations!

Some more tips from friends:

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One method of replacing/reinforcing the bra band. Costume by Bibi Diaz of Las Vegas, NV.

“Please be sure the bra will fit after you embellish it. Stitching makes it smaller, so a good rule is to go a cup size bigger. But, be sure to pad it so that it fits smoothly against you – both gaps (too big) and spillovers (too small) can show the audience more than you intended. Second, unless you specifically developed a choreography where you never turn or show your back, embellish the back. Show your backside some embellishment love, too.” – Anne Renee, The Practical Dancer (Check out her awesome blog here)

“All great points! Although, I find that a soft cup with padded support can be fine. I find soft cups more comfortable, and easier to work with. I often make my costumes with soft cups, however they absolutely MUST be reinforced, and no over the top spillage of lady parts.” – Zabel¬†of ME/NH, USA

What NOT to do. Thanks to The Practical Dancer for this "before" pic.

What NOT to do. Thanks to The Practical Dancer for this “before” pic.

“I always remind them that the shoulder straps should be shorter than your “day” bras, and the rib cage tighter. You need to lift & lock the girls in place.” – Stacey Peacock of Edmonton, Canada¬†(Check out her¬†Raq’n Monkeys!)

“I add new bands made out of interfacing, but keep the original ones underneath. If I have a ‘store bought’ costume (like my great loop or something) ESPECIALLY if it doesn’t cross in the back, I put flat skirt elastic with skirt hooks under the decorative strap. This way if the hooks on the decorated band fail I have back up, and the bra will stay on even if the band is flapping open. It also provides extra support that lets you breathe” – Farha of NY, USA

Unadorned bra strap with obvious lingerie elements

Unadorned bra strap with obvious lingerie elements

“I agree the difference between lingerie, a garment and a costume are worlds apart. Lingerie is designed to be (generally speaking) discrete, super-comfortable, and often, transparent. Outerwear garments, like shirts and pants, need to conceal socially in appropriate parts, which, lingerie – generally speaking – doesn’t always do. If you wear a bra as a shirt, you need to make sure the girls are covered – ahem – at least where I live. A costume, designed to perform in, needs to have structure built into it to support not just your body (boobs have weight) and the embellishments, AND — be able to stand up to centrifugal force – when you go into a big spin, you want everything to stay IN PLACE! Dance costumes need to have less stretch and give and offer more support through movement. This means wider more secure bands and straps.” – Davina of CA, USA (Check out Davina’s fabulous DIY costuming books¬†for more help!)

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Homemade Ballet Barre

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Homemade PVC pipe ballet barre

This summer, I made my very own kitchen-sized ballet barre out of PVC pipe from my local hardware store. It came up in conversation on Facebook recently, so I thought I would share this mini tutorial with all of you!

Here is how I made my barre. See the notes below for how you might modify it based on your height and other preferences.

Supplies:

  • PVC pipe primer and cement (two-can set)
  • 1.5″ PVC pipe
  • 4 ten-inch lengths for the legs
  • 2 thirty-seven-inch lengths for the uprights
  • 1 thirty-five-inch length for the horizontal piece
  • 6 elbows (4 for leg endcaps, 2 to connect the uprights to the horizontal piece)
  • 2 tees to connect the legs to the uprights

This resulted in a 41″ high barre. I’m 5’7″ and it’s a little on the high side for me, but I’m comfortable with it. If you are shorter, consider taking a couple of few inches off the 37″ uprights. However, don’t go too short or you’ll be slouching–and that’s not what you’re supposed to do at the barre! ūüėČ

Stretching on my homemade ballet barre

Stretching on my homemade ballet barre

At this length, the barre is plenty sturdy for stretching, though I wouldn’t hang on it like monkey bars. The longer the horizontal tube, the less sturdy it will be.

The barre is stable since it has a nice wide base, but it is very light so it moves around on the floor a lot. I am thinking about filling the legs with sand and plugging the feet. You could also fill some pillowcases with sand (or cat litter) and put them on the feet to help keep it in place. Suggestions are welcome!

A two-tier barre is also possible. To do that, you would need t-connectors¬†on the uprights¬†to allow for a second horizontal tube a few inches below the top horizontal¬†tube…¬†Check YouTube for some tutorials if you can’t envision it yourself.

Even kitties love ballet barres!

Even kitties love ballet barres!

Chances are good that your local hardware store will cut the piece to order for you. Maine Hardware here in Portland was awesome!

Note that the PVC cement dries after a couple of¬†seconds so definitely¬†do a trial run of the assembly without glue¬†to work¬†out any kinks¬†and ensure that¬†joints are all going to be facing the right way! I recommend using the PVC cement over anything else since you don’t want this thing falling apart mid-use.

Also note: the cement is stinky! You’ll *definitely* need good ventilation… ūüėõ Outdoors or garage assembly is best.

Happy dancing!