How to Make a Belly Dance Veil
Bellydancers often look at the price of belly dance veils and think, "It's only a rectangle of fabric, why should I pay that price - I'll make my own!" - but please, take into account the effort needed to complete it. Cutting the right size takes only a few minutes, but the hem will take many hours of sewing if you have to hand-sew, and is fiddly work even on a sewing machine. If you want to add a trim or sequins, it will take even longer!
That said, making your own means you get a veil that's perfect for your height and reach.
Originally veils were made of silk, but sheer silk (silk chiffon) is an expensive option - and even more so, if you make a mistake while you're trying to make your veil! Cheaper lightweight silk is not sheer.
Having a sheer veil provides more choreographic options - imagine how much better the pose on the right would look, if you could see the outline of the dancer through the veil.
For all those reasons, the most popular materials for belly dance veils are rayon chiffon, polyester chiffon, or georgette.
In tribal belly dance, opaque silk veils are more popular, especially the multi-colored tie-dye styles.
Measuring your veil
It’s very important to get the right size veil for your arm length.
- Drape a long piece of material over your shoulders. Stand up straight and let your arms hang loosely at your sides, with the material hanging over them.
- Put a pin in the veil marking where your fingertips reach, then take the material off and add about a foot on each end.
- If you haven’t bought the fabric yet, ask someone to measure your "wingspan" while you have your arms stretched out to each side, then add 2 feet (60 cm) – but add a little extra to be safe, because this measurement doesn’t allow for the drape around the shoulders.
Don’t forget to allow an extra 3/8 inch all round for the hem!
Hemming is the make-or-break for many would-be veil makers!
The best solution is to use the "rolled hem" foot on your sewing machine. If you prefer a flat hem, you'll get a cleaner edge if you make a line of stitches about a quarter inch in from the edge before you fold and press the hem (fold the material at the line of stitching).
Of course you can also hand-stitch your hem - but be prepared, as you'll need a lot of patience!
But now - what to do with your veil once you've got it!
There are several instructional DVD's available for veil, but Aziza's is by far the best if you're fairly new to veil. It covers the core information well and will give you a repertoire of moves to work with.
All text copyright Marisa Wright. Belly dancer with veil photo with thanks to Toast to life on Flickr.
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