Tasse belts are an integral part of an American Tribal Style Belly dancer's costume wardrobe. They can be almost any shape, the only limitation is your imagination.
We wear tassel belts because they look great and they also emphasize the smallest movement that a dancer makes. Wearing a tassel belt means that we don't have to make our movements big for them to be noticable and that means that we can dance for longer periods of time.
To make a tassel belt, first decide what shape you want (examples below). It could be a flat belt type with tassels attached, triangular, half circle, toran door hanging, cushion covers with shisha embroidery (found in India type stores) or you could even construct your own crocheted, macrame or knotted base (web mesh style). Just make sure that the base you choose is sturdy so that it can take a lot of wear and tear. Once you have decided on a shape, take your hip measurement, and make the top of the belt fit from hip to hip across your back, then make straps or ties and attach them to the sides so the belt can be tied on. The ties can be made of fabric, plaited wool, or sturdy cotton tape. If you like you can also use clasps or buttons to make a tight fitting belt. We find that ties work well though, because it doesn't matter if you change shape slightly - it still fits nicely.
Fabrics to make belts are sturdy types i.e.: taffeta, cotton or cotton blends, denim. If you find a fabric that you really like but think it may not be sturdy enough, you can always sew a lining of interfacing, felt, ior other sturdy fabric onto the back.
Now the fun part begins, decorating your belt. This is where you get to show off your handy work or use of bits and pieces. You can use bits of braid found in half price bins, bits from curtain shops, or bits that you have lying around the house. However, they should have a certain "heaviness" or tribal look to them that will compliment the tassels. You can also attach old bits of jewelry, odd earrings and brooches to the belt. This gives the belt some sentimental value as well as giving it a dowry effect. Also, coins can be added. Nomadic gypsies used to attach coins and things of value to their costume simply because they had no bank or permanent home to store such things. Add as much or as little as you like, you will know when your belt is finished.
Lastly, add tassels that you have made. Use reasonably sturdy wool (yarn), as we don't want tassels falling apart - they are time consuming to make! Again, make as many tassels as you like.
Making tassels: we use a CD case to wind the yarn around,(but you can use a different item to wind the yarn around to vary the length and fatness of your tassels. They can be as long or as short as you want) until it was as fat as we wanted, tied a tight piece through the top of the loops, THEN cut the loops on the bottom of the CD case, make a slip knot with a different colored yard, holding the tail, and then wind it around the tassel, about 1 inch (3cms) from the top. Tie it off with the tail. Crochet, braid, or knot a 3 to 6 inch (9 to 16 cms) section of yard to make a small chain to attach it to the belt.
A tribal belt can be an ongoing evolving project, that is very personal and unique to you.
Happy dancing! Anysia and Meegan.
Here are a examples of possible shapes to make your tasselbelt.
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