November 15, 2022 3 Comments
by Victoria Watkins
Our 144 Belly Dancer sewing pattern is packed with directions for three garments as well as embellishment instructions for several accessories. While originally intended for belly dancers (originally American Tribal Style belly dancers, now FatChanceBellyDance) to create a complete performance costume, bits and pieces can absolutely be isolated and worn on their own. In these photos I am wearing the pantaloons I made and the choli in Folkwear's garment stash - both from this pattern.
My decision to sew the pantaloons is a bit of a funny story. The city where I live (Asheville, NC) is a bit eccentric, with a bit of an artsy, bohemian reputation. It is entirely in the character of our town that I met a woman running pay-what-you-want belly dance lessons in her front yard. An avid dancer myself, I decided to learn what I can from her. Between watching her chickens mill about the yard, poring over vinyl records of belly dance music from the 70s, and my own struggle to keep my arms raised above my head for the duration of a session, it's become one of the highlights of my week. However, the solitary yellow skirt I wore to practice every week began to feel a bit repetitive. I remembered that we have a pattern for exactly this sort of thing and quickly got to work.
The main components of the pattern are the choli (top), pantaloons, and a ten-yard skirt. I originally considered making the skirt, but I needed time to come to terms with the cost of the yardage necessary to sew it. Additionally, I was aiming to put together something for practice and not performance, so I determined that the pantaloons would be more ideal.
The instructions for how to construct the pantaloons were easy to follow. I chose to make a couple modifications, which you will likely want to do as well if you want to wear these as pants without an overskirt. First, I wanted to finish the pants in the crotch, because the instructions tell you to leave an opening at the intersection of the inseams by default. I found this weird (I didn't want to flash anyone during the post-lesson stretches), but my teacher later informed me that the pantaloons have a large opening for a practical purpose: to make bathroom breaks for performers covered in yards and yards of cloth much quicker. That said, the pattern does offer the suggestion of adding a gusset to close the gap. I made a diamond shaped gusset without much fuss or precision, and it worked great.
An additional modification that I made was to make the legs a more practical length. For stage, the pantaloons are supposed to brush the floor. This effect is definitely lovely, but it also is not suitable for daily wear. I decided to just cut down the legs and cuff them at about ankle height.
Even made out of a quilting cotton, these pants are surprisingly comfortable - I even wear them to work. They're roomy, free of any zippers or buttons to pinch, and cute on top of it all. When showing them off to my friend, I (dramatically) told her that I wanted to be buried in these pants. Not only are they practical for dance lessons, but they're a fantastic choice for pajamas or loungewear. I could also see them looking totally chic in a more upscale fabric, too.
I highly suggest you make a pair! What do you think? Would you wear these out and about?
January 17, 2023