How to make Egyptian fringe – step-by-step instructions with photos

Najla's "Princess Jasmine" belly dance bedlah belt with fringe

Najla’s “Princess Jasmine” belly dance bedlah belt with fringe

Making fringe is not for the weak of heart; this is without a doubt one of the most time consuming (but rewarding and oddly meditative) costuming projects I’ve taken on. Egyptian fringe is available ready-made online and in some dance shops, but can be extremely difficult to color-match to a costume and expensive. My “Princess Jasmine” costume (featured in Jareeda magazine’s 2011 costuming issue) needed a little extra swing, so I decided to add some fringe to the belt, making my own to ensure a perfect color match. Past experiences laboriously threading seed beads onto thread to make small beaded sections on costumes had put me off from making fringe, but purchasing a bead spinner made the task much easier.

Want to make your own Egyptian fringe? Here’s what you need to make approximately 40″ of fringe, the perfect length for a hip belt.

  • Beading thread (at least 2 64 yard spools) in a color that blends with your beads
  • Bead spinner & curved needles
  • Thick, flexible thread such as denim thread
  • heavy duty thread (carpet & button thread)
  • small crochet hook
  • Satin or grosgrain ribbon (1/4″ width) – [optional]
  • Fray Check
  • seed beads (this example used approximately 3 bags of Darice Big Value! of size 10 beads. Most manufacturers sell beads by weight, so that would be 90 grams. Weight/number of beads may vary depending on the size of the bead you use and your specific measurements.)
  • ruler
  • tip: all thread and ribbon colors should blend with your costume and fringe (the colors here are just suggestions)
  1. Determine how long you want your fringe to be. You can even Photoshop fringe into a photo to visualize the final effect. This technique uses double-long bead strands that will be folded in half to achieve the desired length. Ex: if you want 4″ fringe you’ll make 8″ strands.
  2. Use the bead spinner to quickly create a strand of beads. Tie the knot at each end around the final bead and secure with a dot of Fray Check. With practice, this step takes 2 minutes or less per strand.
  3. Using the denim thread and crochet hook, use a crochet chain stitch to make a 2″ long piece that will mark the beginning of your fringe.
  4. Start your next chain stitch; before wrapping the thread around the needle and pulling it through the loop, drape the folded bead strand over the thread, taking care to make sure it’s even. Once the strand is placed, draw the crochet hook through the thread loop. Create a regular chain stitch, then one with a bead strand; continue alternating this pattern until you’ve reached the desired length. You can change the number of plain stitches in between beaded stitches (or eliminate them completely) to change the thickness of your fringe.
  5. Finish off the fringe strand with another 2″ of regular chain stitch.
  6. From here, you have two choices. A) Apply the fringe as-is to your project; since the crocheted thread is flexible, this makes applying it to a round surface like a dance bra much easier. B) Sew the fringe to a length of satin or grosgrain ribbon, and then sew the ribbon to your project. This is a great choice if you might remove the fringe to use on another project in the future, as it is much simpler to pull out stitches from the ribbon than from the crochet stitches, or if you need extra support for the fringe. I recommend doing this if you are applying the fringe to a belt, as the beads become very heavy and are subjected to much more intense movement than on a bra. Stitch the crocheted denim thread down the middle to the edge of the ribbon using heavy-duty thread; use the same heavy-duty thread to sew the ribbon to the costume.
  7. Shimmy, and enjoy your beautiful new fringe!

Besides the initial investment in a bead spinner (around $20), this is a very cost effective project considering 40″ of solid-colored 4″ long beaded fringe STARTS at $40 plus shipping.  All told, the supplies for this fringe cost around $25.

Before fringe:

Najla's "Princess Jasmine" costume - before fringe

Najla’s “Princess Jasmine” costume – before fringe

After fringe:

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Are you insured? Protect your bellydance livelihood (and support the Ken Stein burglary fundraiser)

Belly dancers, from hobbyists to professionals, invest an incredible amount of time and money pursuing the art they love. From buying CDs to makeup to costumes and props, belly dance is an incredible investment, often involved one-of-a-kind materials that cannot be easily replaced. We’ve all heard the horror stories on Bhuz.com of dancers having their cars broken into and their multi-hundred dollar custom Hanan costume ending up for sale at the Buffalo Exchange thrift store for $35. Like dancers, the musicians, photographers and other professionals who are part of are community invest tons into their art, and can be equally devastated by a theft or loss, such as what recently occurred to photographer Ken Stein, a public school teacher and friend of the NYC belly dance community. Ken’s photo equipment was recently stolen; the dance community has now banded together to help raise money to replace his equipment, but not every dancer or photographer may have this available to them.

What’s a dancer to do? While it is a yearly investment, I absolutely urge you to BUY INSURANCE! 

(UPDATED, thanks to the sage advice of some knowledgeable dancers)

Some renter’s, home owner’s or property insurance policies cover items while they are in your home, or while they are outside of your home (ie, in your car at a gig, backstage, etc), but this is more likely if you’re a hobbyist.  Call your insurer and ask how to cover your dance related equipment. To get an idea of how much coverage you should request, take a good look at all of your dance gear and add up how much you’ve spent. While you’re at it, gather those receipts and photograph your costumes, props, stereo equipment, etc in case you ever need to provide evidence of what you own to file a claim (or if you need to post pics on Bhuz to have it tracked down if stolen!!) . When it comes down to it, a $125 yearly policy is well worth it to protect the thousands of dollars of gear it takes to make you the dancer or other professional that you are. Every insurance company and policy is different, so make sure you know the specifics of your plan, deductible and claim process.

Lauren of St. Louis notes if you’re running a business based on dance, you’ll need a more specific policy or rider. Home owner’s or renter’s policies generally do not cover equipment meant for a business, which commenter Pen, a photographer, also noted.

While I hope no one ever experiences a theft, fire or similar tragedy, unexpected events can and do happen. Be prepared!

Belly Dance Costume Supplies & Patterns: New Online Shop Section!

I love to make costumes, or customize the costumes that I buy. While it’s time-consuming, it’s incredibly fun and rewarding, and guarantees that you’ll be stepping out in something one-of-a-kind. I’m currently making Egyptian fringe for one of my costumes and discovered the bead spinner; this is a life-changing invention! If you’ve ever strung seed beads, you know how time consuming it can be. This was something I wish I’d known about years ago, so with that in mind, I’ve created a new section for costume supplies and patterns in my online shop.

Here’s a sample of some of the items available. Happy shopping!

Costuming supplies & patterns:

Gallibiya pattern

Gallibiya pattern

Ghawazee coat pattern

Ghawazee coat pattern

Mermaid skirt pattern

Mermaid skirt pattern

Fray Check

Fray Check

Silver Sequins

Silver Sequins

Bead Spinner

Bead Spinner

Czech seed beads

Czech seed beads