Previous post:

Next post:

Skirt Transformation – From Straight to Spin-worthy

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this clip tells a wonderful story.  Shalimar, a San Francisco/Bay Area professional dancer is very pleased with her skirt transformation. In the last post, you could see “The Before” a simple one-slit straight skirt hanging rather limply on a dress form.

However, as you can see in the clip above, Shalimar is a high-energy belly dancer who enjoys large dramatic spin combinations. Her mission was to transform this work-horse straight skirt for those tight hookah bars into one more stage-ready with more fullness and sweep at the hem.


Before I could proceed, I had to begin by deconstructing the original straight skirt. It was made from a simple rectangle with a fold-over casing at the top for elastic.

The one side seam was stitched about 12″ down leaving a single slit which Shalimar could position on the side, center front, or over one of her thighs.

Once deconstructed, I’m left with a simple rectangle that was Shalimar’s hip measurement across and from hip to floor going down.

Sourcing Materials

The fabric of the original straight skirt is a lycra-poly blend with a foil pattern.  The straight skirt is stunningly reflective and shifts from aqua, blue, and purple as the fabric moves.

I was fortunate to find the coordinating dotted foil fabric in the same colorway at a discount mill-end fabric store.  If you are in the greater San Jose area, be sure to check out Fabrics’R’Us on Berryessa and Lundy in East San Jose.  Unfortunately, like many discount stores, they don’t maintain a website.

When I arrived at the store, my plan was to find something that would coordinate, perhaps some stretchy mesh, or a silver foil, but amazingly, after a full dig through the store, I found the match I needed. You can see in this detailed image on the right how good a match we achieved.

New Design

The after skirt has two slits for dramatic knee lifts, to accentuate level changes and elegant ballet-inspired rond de jambe that allow her legs to sweep through the slits in the skirt.

The new design brief was to keep the materials cost under $50 and to add as much fullness as possible.  I purchased the remaining bolt of blue, which was just under 5 yards long.  With this much fabric, I decided to add 2 full circles as simple godets.

To keep the construction simple,  I installed three half-circle godets at the sides and back.  I cut the fourth half-circle into four smaller pieces and attached them to either side of the front slits.

Find the pattern drafting details in my book “Skirting the Issue and Pants for the Dance” on page 32-33.

I’ve included these two detailed shots of the top of the godet. Because this fabric is very springy due to the high lycra content, I gave each of the godets a rounded top.  To let the fabric fall gracefully, I notched the seam allowance straight up and to the sides.

Full and Fabulous

Once all the godets are installed, I stitched the skirt front panel to the back panel from mid-thigh up to the hip.  The top of the skirt was still a basic tube, so I simply folded over the top to create a self-casing. I used 1″ no-roll elastic to hold the skirt firmly to the hips.

The last sewing I machine-hemmed the skirt going along the hem and up both slit seams.  Because this spandex blend doesn’t fray, I simply turned finger-turned the hem up 1/2″ and machine stitched it in place.

Skip the Pattern – Use these Directions

If you are like the looks of this skirt and want to make one for yourself, you will want to pick up a copy of “Skirting the Issues & Pants for the Dance.”  The instructions for this skirt style are located on pages 32-33.  Visit my Etsy store to pick up a printed copy of the book for $20+ Shipping.  However, if you want to save some cash, and skip the shipping, book is now available as a digital download for $12.50

Over the years, many folks have asked for photos of finished examples of the designs that appear in my books.  The simple truth is that “Skirting the Issues” and “Pants for the Dance” were published long ago. The sample costume pieces made to test the pattern instructions have worn out!

Moving forward, I will tag future costume pieces with the corresponding directions from my publications.  This skirt is fairly easy to measure, mark, cut, and sew.  If you like a swingy full skirt, give this style a try.  Need more convincing?  Here’s another clip of Shalimar dancing in her new two-slit and godet skirt variation. She really makes it fly!

I wish you luck in all of your costuming adventures!

Dawn Devine ~ Davina
June 2, 2020 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Previous post:

Next post: