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Working with Egyptian Fringe

One of the most glamorous, sparkly, and shimmy enhancing costuming elements is Egyptian beaded fringe.  This sparkly design element is composed of glass rocaille or seed beads suspended on a thick thread from a top rope. The strands are closely packed together, creating a shimmering wall of color.  This fringe can also be cut apart and used as clusters or even tassels around a costume.  The image at the right is the glamorous Bay Area belly dancer Adriana wearing an assiut bra with an Egyptian fringe cluster at the center front.

Egyptian fringe is a handcrafted item, that is generally available in approximately meter-long pieces or in matched sets.  It comes in some basic lengths such as 4″, 6″ and 8″ length drops. Egyptian fringe can be a single colored bead and length like the black hank below top left.  It’s also available with specialty beads, like the gold drops on the tips of the peacock blue iridescent fringe bottom right.

Geometric patterns such as squares and stripes like the black and silver top right.  V shaped sets are also available like the burgundy and gold pictured below right.  Sets often include three V-shaped pieces, one for the front and back of your belt, and one for the bra sometimes with an additional length of short fringe to bridge the gaps between the front and back, or to add to accessories for a cohesive look.

Prepping Egyptian Fringe

One of the ways to make fringe last longer is to seal the knots with glue. When cutting meters into smaller parts for use around a costume, adding glue prior to cutting is essential to prevent losing strands after the cut.  Dabbing a bit of glue on the knotted ends of each strand may sound like a lot of extra work, but it can add years to the lifespan of your beaded fringe.  I am currently using Aleene’s Fabric Fusion which comes in a pen form for precise application, or in bottle form which is a less expensive choice.

Sourcing Egyptian Fringe

I prefer to buy my fringe in person at belly dance events.  When I don’t have ready access to an event but need to get a costume done, I will reach out to trusted dealers who carry top quality fringe directly from the source.

Scheherezade Imports – Although the website has a vintage look, it doesn’t begin to represent the quality and quantity of stock that Lucy, aka Scheherezade has available in stock.  I like to message her using her website with my specific request, and she always responds promptly. Visit their website.

Dahlal International – This beautiful website focusses primarily on ready-made costumes, but has a small, but potent, section on specialty belly dance costume making materials.  I have made many purchases from Dahlal, and have never been dissatisfied with the quality of the products, service, and shipping. Visit their website.

Turquoise International – While I have never ordered from the Turquoise website, I have purchased a lot of beaded fringe from Ali, the proprietor, in person at Rakksah West.  However, I can attest to the quality of their fringe. Visit their website.

Of course, you can find Egyptian fringe available on Etsy, eBay and through specialty dealers worldwide.  Search for the color and length that you prefer, and you will find plenty of sources.

Design Tip:  In the photo above, Zemira aka Alisha Westerfeld, is wearing an imported bedlah, or bra and belt set made with a variety of colors of Egyptian fringe.  You can get this effect by cutting several colors of fringe into pieces and sewing them together and putting them to your costume.

Add Dealers to your Source Book

No matter how you source your fringe, I highly recommend establishing a good relationship with your favorite dealers.  They can help you source unusual colors, lengths, shapes, and also share with you good deals when they get ahold of them.  Be sure to sign up for mailing lists and pay attention to annual sale dates.

As you make more and more costumes, I always recommend that you create for yourself a personal source book where you collect the names and contact information about your preferred dealers.  Keeping track of who’s reliable, professional, and courteous is important information to have on hand when you’re gathering materials for making costumes.

Above Image: Notice the dab of glue placed on the fringe prior to cutting.

Now I’ve gotta run and hand-sew a bunch of fringe onto this belt!   If you have any more questions about Egyptian fringe, how to handle and use it, please drop me a line via email and I’ll be happy to answer any questions for you! Reach me at davina@davina.us and include “re: Egyptian fringe question” in the subject line.  Alternately, you if you are a FaceBook user, you can join the conversation over in the Studio Davina group.

Happy Costuming and Delicious Dance!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Sept. 14, 2017

 

 

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