I’m a belly dancer. I teach and perform and study belly dance. I also make belly dance costumes.
There was no doubt that I’d combine dolls with dance. As soon as I saw a used Pullip Nah-atto doll I had to have it.
But let’s be honest, Nahh-ato is all Orientalist tropes.
Genie lamp, harem pants, odd collar with a ring, lounging couch, a not included in this photo but totally included in the outfit face veil….
That’s not to say that I, as a Western white woman involved in the dance, am not guilty of appropriation and Orientalism. I try to educate myself. I listen. I make mistakes and hopefully I have and will continue to correct myself when called out.
My Nahh-Ato has arms that have grown loose and floppy over time. So, she’s getting a new body. The closest skin match I could find for her was the MTM Soccer barbie.
This Barbie can easily fit in every part of the outfit except the bra-top. So, while repainting the face and awaiting new eyes, I made a dance costume modeled after 1960’s/1970’s belly dance albums and fashions…all from leftovers in my stash.
I serged/roll hemmed four half circles (two larger, two smaller) to make the skirt. Then I sewed the remaining serger tail into the serged area and beaded the edge.
I then made harem pants with side slits that close at the ankles and are open on one side at the hips.
I stitched the pants onto a Barbie bikini bottom that closes on the side (you can see my basting stitches). I then attached the skirt to the panty-harem pants combo. In human-sized belly dance these would be three separate items you could mix and match but a doll can’t afford that many rolls of elastic and fabric bulking up her form.
All of these layers were eventually attached to her belt so her waist-down outfit snaps at the side and the ankles.
I used interfacing to start making the belt form.
If I were costuming for a human the form and back of the belt would be two separate pieces that overlapped at the sides… makes altering costumes when dealing with weight changes easier, you just unstitch the joined side and the hooked side and adjust symmetrically. But dolls don’t change size and don’t appreciate the extra layers.
The fray check stained the satin but that wouldn’t be an issue as I was adding another layer of fabric, silver lace.
I started using chains and decorations from some cannibalized jewelry I have in my stash for decorating dance costumes…
I made a top based loosely off her original one using the same techniques. It snaps at the back and neck.
This is her face, waiting for eyes and a few finishing touches.
….and I found Nahh-Ato’s lounging couch at my local Hobby-Off….so she’s ready for her eyes, wig, and the sort of “lounging bellydance” photos that bring ALL the haters and shamers to the yards.