Shopping for Assiut – On A Budget!

I recently got a message from a dancer/costumer who was bummed that they couldn’t afford assiut fabric!  The request: My top tips for purchasing assiut, but on a budget!

The hard truth is that times are tough and inflation is hitting us all hard. Gas is expensive, and shipping costs have skyrocketed.

Here are a few of the ways that I’ve acquired affordable assiut garments and accessories over the years. One or more of these approaches might be helpful for you to bring some modern assiut into your life.

Buy Used Assiut

Belly dance as a hobby can be quite a thrill, but when the thrill is gone, a lot of folks like to destash. Join resale groups here to see if you can spot – and nap – a second-hand deal.

Buy Seconds or Damaged Pieces of Assiut

Tell your favorite dealers you are looking for a stained, torn, or damaged piece.  If you are cutting it up for costuming, you might be able to cut around those parts.

Put out the Word & Ask Your Community

You never know when you might find someone with an affordable used gem in their closet. Old costumes circulate on the used market, but some folks don’t think about selling until they have a reason.  So be sure to ask around.

Buy Scraps & Off-Cuts

You never know when some scraps, bits, and pieces are lurking in the stashes of your costuming friends. Make friends with costumers who enjoy working with assiut and watch ebay, etsy, and costuming destash groups for bits and pieces.

Assiut inserts into yoga pantsTeam up on an Assiut Purchase to Split the Cost 

Choose simple styles, like the one I made for Basinah, that only use half or a quarter of an assiut shawl.  This one shawl made four bedlah sets!  

Buy Lower Quality

Not all assiut is the same.  While I would love to have lots of top quality assiut to work with, to save money I’ve chosen to work with less expensive pieces.  These pants below were made from a very sparse, and thus affordable, piece of assiut.

Use Sparingly as an Accent

If funds are tight, invest in just one smaller piece, and choose to use it as embellishments and focal points.  Rather than covering the whole bra, think of just the tops or center of the cups.  Instead of going all the way around a belt, think appliqued motifs at front and center.  One shawl can cover most bras and belts, with scraps left over for accessories.

Team up with Friends and Buy in Bulk

Sometimes you can team up with groups of folks in your community to make larger discounted purchases.  Contact your favorite dealers to see if they have bulk discounts.

Set up automated alerts

Be sure to like shops on Etsy and eBay.  Sign up for newsletters from dealers announcing product launches and sales. While you are signing up for newsletters, why not sign up for mine too?  Just click on the sign-up bottom at the top of the right column.

Remember the Mantra “Search and Research”

Researching and sourcing materials is an important step in the design process. Put together a mood or style board with images of costumes that inspire you.  You can find lots of assiut costuming images on my Pinterest board. Take a moment to flip through your social media accounts to see what’s happening in assiut costuming today. And of course, I’m always going to suggest exploring all the amazing images, like the ones above, in my book “Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut” available on Amazon or direct from me via the Studio Davina Etsy Shop.

Photo:  The assiut I’m wearing in this photo was purchased bit-by-bit over many years.  There’s a base robe, a shawl, a double-triangle hip treatment with hair flower scraps you cannot see tucked into the back of my headdress.

Be Patient, Be Persistent, & Best of Luck

I’ve used every single one of these strategies at various times in my dancing and sewing journey.  I hope that you find the perfect piece to complete your next design.

Be well – Dance well – Costume Fabulously,
~ Dawn Devine ~ Davina
June 20, 2022

By Davina

Davina ~ Dawn Devine is a belly dance costume designer, dance instructor and author of more than a dozen publications on Middle Eastern dance.