Baby your Bling: preparing and caring for your belly dance costume jewelry

Costume jewelry

Costume jewelry

It’s happened to you before. You’ve scoured the Internet, the discount boutiques, or the rhinestone-filled stores of midtown Manhattan or downtown LA to find the perfect set of costume jewelry to match a costume. And then it happens. Maybe you saw it onstage, maybe you don’t realize until you’re unpacking your gig bag home, or until days later when you fasten the earrings on again. WHERE DID THAT CRYSTAL GO?!

While costume jewelry can be inexpensive (check out the price tag on this set I just got!), you get what you pay for in many ways.

Fear not, with a few easy preparation and care steps, you can keep your costume jewelry looking as good as the day you pulled it out of the package.

Materials

Supplies

Supplies

  1. Box with a lid 
  2. Old t-shirt
  3. Toothpick
  4. E-6000 glue
  5. Clear nail polish or Jewelry Shield
  6. Pliers

Prepare

1. Storage: Tangles and scratches are the enemy of costume jewelry, whose weak links and soft imitation stones damage easily. Prevent damage by creating a storage system that uses the plastic packaging that most costume jewelry sets come with now.

Cut the plastic packaging to fix in a lidded box. Take the twist ties that were used to secure the necklace from the set and turn them around so that the ends face up. Use the twist ties to secure the necklace so it doesn’t rattle around in the box.

Costume jewelry in storage box with cloth

Costume jewelry in storage box with cloth

Twist ties keep jewelry in place

Twist ties keep jewelry in place

Place the earrings into the original holes from the packaging.

Cut a small piece from the old t-shirt to fit your box to place over the jewelry; this will prevent movement and scratches.

2. Check for loose stones and links: Tiffany-quality settings these are not, and more often than not, crystals fall out and prove to be nearly impossible to replace because of odd sizes or colors.

As soon as you get your new jewelry, use a toothpick to pry at the space between the setting and the stone.

Checking for loose stones

Checking for loose stones

If there are any loose stones (or if they pop out all together!), use a small dab of E-6000 glue to secure them back in place, making sure to wipe the glue off any metal or stone surfaces. Use pliers to tighten any loose links.

3. Coat the backing: Costume jewelry’s mystery metal likes to turn weird colors when it reacts to your sweat, causing streaks to run down your skin when you’re dancing. Prevent this by coating the back of your jewelry with a coat of clear nail polish or Jewelry Shield.

Coat the back of your jewelry to prevent discoloration

Coat the back of your jewelry to prevent discoloration

Now that you’ve prepared your new jewelry, you’re ready to dance!

Care

1. Dry it off: Even though you’ve coated the back of your jewelry, sweat buildup can still eventually damage it or wear through the coating. Use the cloth in your storage box to wipe down your jewelry after each wear. Wash or replace the cloth as needed, and apply a new coat of nail polish or Jewelry Shield as needed.

2. Examine it: Did any prongs come lose? Did a link open when you caught your bracelet in your hair and had to pull it out? Look at your jewelry frequently to check for any problems, and if you find them, fix according to Step #2 in the Care section.

Just a few minutes of maintenance before and after each use can keep your costume jewelry in dance-ready shape for years!

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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:

***This post contains Amazon Associate links. Anything you purchase will support this blog–thanks!

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