Skirts for Short Girls?

Cobra Hips

New member
Hello Dancers,

I usually dance in pants at home, but I would really like a skirt too. Unfortunately every skirt I have encountered online in pretty much any style is much too long for me. I'm 5'1. Does anybody know of any places I could get a petite skirt? I'm not a professional dancer so I'm not looking for anything fancy or expensive. Thanks! :)
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Depending on what you're looking for - you might give Geisha Moth a looksee:


She makes, among other things, a cute little skirt called a "Yo Girt Skirt" - no two alike. About knee length on my 6 foot frame. Tell her Zorba sent you!
 

Tourbeau

Member
What kind of skirt do you want? Straight with a slit? Vintage-style circle skirt? Tiered full skirt?

The second-hand costume market is the obvious option, but the right length skirt may be part of a set with a top that might or might not be your size or taste.

I don't have any personal experience ordering from them, but I've heard some of the student-grade Chinese costumes run both smaller and shorter than dancewear coming from other places. When the Chinese costumes first started showing up online, IIRC, they were aiming for dancers around 5'4", so that would still be too long for you, but nothing's stopping you from buying a cheapo bedlah with an undecorated-bottom skirt and just cutting it to length. (Stretchy knits don't get stringy and unravel like wovens, but they may run, so don't invest much if you're going for the brute-force option.)

Custom ordering is probably more expensive than you'll want for practice, so you might also start by looking at regular stores for normal, everyday skirts that are midi length. Calf length on a taller dancer might be floor length on you, depending on how low you wear your skirt. Be aware that you are not just looking at length. Most "civilian" long skirts may not be full enough for comfortable dance movement, but skirts with appropriately placed straight vertical seams may be alterable (by opening some of a seam into a slit and stabilizing it).

And if you have the sewing skills, the options to make your own skirts are nearly infinite. Readily available mainstream patterns will have all sorts of styles, and if you catch a sale, you can get them when they are 75% off or more. My first teacher was partial to tricot for circle skirts because you could whip up a quick-and-dirty one by just cutting the panels, making the waistband, and leveling out the bottom (no finishing side seams, no hanging, and no turning up a hem). If you're not sure where to start, Mao has a lot of tutorials on her site https://www.sparklybelly.com/6-classic-belly-dance-skirts/, Shira's circle skirt is a classic http://www.shira.net/costuming/skirt-circle.htm, and Davina's books have helped two decades of dancers learn to make costumes https://www.davina.us/blog/books/.

Have you seen this page?

https://www.poiseandpotions.com/poor-little-womans-guide-to-belly-dance-costumes/


P.S. Does anybody remember the name of that little company that used to make the custom separates? They specialized in stretch velvet mermaid skirts and cold-shoulder cholis and things like that--used to be really popular with troupes. I can't find them. Are they still in business?
 

Tourbeau

Member
L.Rose Designs?
Sounds about right, but their web site is offline, the Etsy store with that name sells mostly jewelry and odds and ends, and their Facebook site for costuming hasn't been updated since 2018. Not sure what happened, but they don't seem to be a resource at the moment...
 

Cobra Hips

New member
What kind of skirt do you want? Straight with a slit? Vintage-style circle skirt? Tiered full skirt?

The second-hand costume market is the obvious option, but the right length skirt may be part of a set with a top that might or might not be your size or taste.

I don't have any personal experience ordering from them, but I've heard some of the student-grade Chinese costumes run both smaller and shorter than dancewear coming from other places. When the Chinese costumes first started showing up online, IIRC, they were aiming for dancers around 5'4", so that would still be too long for you, but nothing's stopping you from buying a cheapo bedlah with an undecorated-bottom skirt and just cutting it to length. (Stretchy knits don't get stringy and unravel like wovens, but they may run, so don't invest much if you're going for the brute-force option.)

Custom ordering is probably more expensive than you'll want for practice, so you might also start by looking at regular stores for normal, everyday skirts that are midi length. Calf length on a taller dancer might be floor length on you, depending on how low you wear your skirt. Be aware that you are not just looking at length. Most "civilian" long skirts may not be full enough for comfortable dance movement, but skirts with appropriately placed straight vertical seams may be alterable (by opening some of a seam into a slit and stabilizing it).

And if you have the sewing skills, the options to make your own skirts are nearly infinite. Readily available mainstream patterns will have all sorts of styles, and if you catch a sale, you can get them when they are 75% off or more. My first teacher was partial to tricot for circle skirts because you could whip up a quick-and-dirty one by just cutting the panels, making the waistband, and leveling out the bottom (no finishing side seams, no hanging, and no turning up a hem). If you're not sure where to start, Mao has a lot of tutorials on her site https://www.sparklybelly.com/6-classic-belly-dance-skirts/, Shira's circle skirt is a classic http://www.shira.net/costuming/skirt-circle.htm, and Davina's books have helped two decades of dancers learn to make costumes https://www.davina.us/blog/books/.

Have you seen this page?

https://www.poiseandpotions.com/poor-little-womans-guide-to-belly-dance-costumes/


P.S. Does anybody remember the name of that little company that used to make the custom separates? They specialized in stretch velvet mermaid skirts and cold-shoulder cholis and things like that--used to be really popular with troupes. I can't find them. Are they still in business?
Thank you very much! I will check all this out too! I'm looking for something more full and multi-tiered. I have some longer flowy skirts but they're really not voluminous enough for practice. I do have a sewing machine. Maybe I will actually learn how to use it. LOL.
 

Daimona

Moderator
Thank you very much! I will check all this out too! I'm looking for something more full and multi-tiered. I have some longer flowy skirts but they're really not voluminous enough for practice. I do have a sewing machine. Maybe I will actually learn how to use it. LOL.
Learning to sew is always a good thing.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Thank you very much! I will check all this out too! I'm looking for something more full and multi-tiered. I have some longer flowy skirts but they're really not voluminous enough for practice. I do have a sewing machine. Maybe I will actually learn how to use it. LOL.
If you want nice costumes at a reasonable price, learning to sew is essential, and you needn't learn anything very complicated for a basic skirt.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Altering skirts is easy - even a male like me can do it. I usually have to make them longer, but there was one that had been passed around the local Belly Dance sisterhood until it came to me. It was too long on my 6 foot frame. I cut it down and put a new waistband on it. Then I discovered that I screwed up, and had cut it down too much! The skirt already had a flounce at the hem, so I just added a second one behind the first that was longer. Problem solved.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Sounds about right, but their web site is offline, the Etsy store with that name sells mostly jewelry and odds and ends, and their Facebook site for costuming hasn't been updated since 2018. Not sure what happened, but they don't seem to be a resource at the moment...
That's unfortunate. Lora retired a few years back and her daughter (?) took it over. Wonder if they're still vending at the California festivals?
 

Cobra Hips

New member
Altering skirts is easy - even a male like me can do it. I usually have to make them longer, but there was one that had been passed around the local Belly Dance sisterhood until it came to me. It was too long on my 6 foot frame. I cut it down and put a new waistband on it. Then I discovered that I screwed up, and had cut it down too much! The skirt already had a flounce at the hem, so I just added a second one behind the first that was longer. Problem solved.
Very cool! I will have to get the sewing machine up from the basement!
 

Tourbeau

Member
I'm looking for something more full and multi-tiered.
Many of the commercial patterns for tiered skirts are going to be narrower than what you might find online called "flying skirts" or "10 yard skirts," so be aware of that. Those massive twirly skirts aren't particularly difficult to make in concept, but they are a lot of fabric to wrangle for a beginning sewing project. It might make sense to do a more modest test run with a basic pattern like Simplicity 1110 (https://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-storefront-catalog/patterns/brands/simplicity/simplicity-pattern-1110-misses-tiered-skirt-with-length-variations/) and some inexpensive fabric (even though it's not quite what you want for dancing) before diving into the deluxe version

Zorba, do you ever buy Vogue patterns? Vogue 1703 (https://mccall.com/v1703) reminded me of an old Bhuz debate about whether striped fabric made wonderful or terrible circle skirts. I don't love the way they've implemented that particular striped fabric, but I could see somebody upcycling some of those old striped Lurex veils here. (And I'm a sucker for skirts with yokes that look like belts.)

I'm also morbidly fascinated by the concept of Vogue 9349's (https://mccall.com/v9349) somewhat deranged mashup of tiers and ruffles on a wrap skirt. I'll be watching for the sale on Vogue patterns for those two...
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I like V9349 though I prefer the first tier to be higher on my hips in the back than in this pattern. It reminds me a little of one of my all-time favorite movie dresses (Myrna Loy as Nora Charles, below).

I've worn tiered skirts as a non-dancing preference for years and have discovered that at least for my body, the height of the first horizontal seam is critical. A little too low and it looks sloppy. A little too high and i t looks like something Mother Ginger would wear to hide all those children. I also like the top tier to fit like a yoke rather than a dirndl. I have enough width at the hips without gathers at the waist. (Yes, my dears, I know: "old hippie" is redundant.)

Years ago I bought a tiered skirt and matching harem pants from Gia here on the forum. (Wonder what ever happened to her?) The skirt had a nice wide band (3") with several smaller strips of elastic running through it. Having several pieces of elastic made for a better fit at the hips than a narrower single piece of elastic does.

When you adjust the length and/or hang of the skirt, I suggest doing it from the waist rather than the bottom hem, if at all possible. Less distance to cover, for one thing. I am much flatter in the stomach than I am in the butt so my skirts tend to be too long in front if they're cut the same length all the way around. Much easier to take up that extra front length from the waistband than try to hem up the difference.

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Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Naw, I learned how to "kamikaze" a big ass dance skirt together - using what I call "recursive split gores", never have made one from a pattern - for better or worse. I can think of about 10,000 ways I could screw THAT up!
 

Cobra Hips

New member
Many of the commercial patterns for tiered skirts are going to be narrower than what you might find online called "flying skirts" or "10 yard skirts," so be aware of that. Those massive twirly skirts aren't particularly difficult to make in concept, but they are a lot of fabric to wrangle for a beginning sewing project. It might make sense to do a more modest test run with a basic pattern like Simplicity 1110 (https://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-storefront-catalog/patterns/brands/simplicity/simplicity-pattern-1110-misses-tiered-skirt-with-length-variations/) and some inexpensive fabric (even though it's not quite what you want for dancing) before diving into the deluxe version

Zorba, do you ever buy Vogue patterns? Vogue 1703 (https://mccall.com/v1703) reminded me of an old Bhuz debate about whether striped fabric made wonderful or terrible circle skirts. I don't love the way they've implemented that particular striped fabric, but I could see somebody upcycling some of those old striped Lurex veils here. (And I'm a sucker for skirts with yokes that look like belts.)

I'm also morbidly fascinated by the concept of Vogue 9349's (https://mccall.com/v9349) somewhat deranged mashup of tiers and ruffles on a wrap skirt. I'll be watching for the sale on Vogue patterns for those two...
I was actually wondering about that issue myself. I found something that might work for me on a website, so we shall see. I do want to learn to sew well though.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Good for you, Cobra! Of course, you have to be willing to sew poorly for a while in order to sew well, so don't get discouraged!
 
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