Belly dance coin belt / hip scarf tutorial

Belly dance hip scarf / coin belt / costume piece. Whatever you call it, it looks and sounds pretty!

Ready to make your own hip scarf for belly dance? I’m not talking about tacking store bought trim on some fabric.  You won’t weave the fabric or spin the yarn, but you’ll make the “coins” and crochet the trim yourself.

This is a proof of concept project I designed to refine my skills and find stumbling blocks before I make an elaborate hip scarf for my costume. Think of it as making a muslin to test a pattern before sewing a fancy party dress with expensive material.  You can use these techniques to design your own hip scarf.

Knowledge of beaded crochet will be very helpful. The project takes between 10 and 15 hours to complete, but the out of pocket costs are minimal. Consider taking apart thrift shop costume jewelry for beads. Metal coins for belly dance costumes are available for purchase at online bead shops if you want to skip making your own, but the costs add up quickly. I am using this one for dance practice, so it doesn’t need to be fancy.

Materials needed:

  • At least 6 large plastic takeout containers. Make sure the plastic is type #6. The more you can get your hands on, the better. Please do not purchase them new. Wash them, save them, and hound your co-workers for theirs after lunch. Creative reuse, baby!
  • 2 yards of chiffon or other lightweight flowing fabric.
  • Ball of coordinating crochet thread
  • At least 800 4mm beads.  You’ll need more if you want to make more than 2 rows of coin trim.
  • At least 80 8mm beads.  Again, you’ll need more if you want to make more than 2 rows of coin trim.
  • Sewing thread

Tools Needed:

  • Size 2 crochet hook (2.25mm)
  • Needle capable of threading your beads with crochet yarn
  • Serger or sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Silver dollar (or circular object of similar size to use for tracing) *or* big circle punch
  • Permanent marker
  • Washable fabric marker
  • Bead threading tool – this can be a fine piece of wire folded in half. I used stiff thread folded in half.

Making Coins

Draw circles on plastic

Plastic take-out boxes

Cut out the flat areas of the take out boxes. Use the tracing circle and the permanent marker to draw circles on the plastic. If you have a big circle punch, making coins will go faster.  You can go crazy with it and draw symbols on the coins before baking.

You should make at least 120 coins, but I suggest making more than that so you have a margin for error.

Before baking

Cut all of the circles out, and punch a hole in each one.  Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lay the circles out on a cookie sheet and bake for 3 – 5 minutes, or until plastic shrinks.

Watch them carefully! If they curl too quickly and don’t flatten, turn the heat down on your oven. Leave them out on the counter top to cool while you cut and hem the body of the scarf.

This is what they look like when they are finished:

After baking

I used a couple different types of boxes, which resulted in a variety of coin colors.

Scarf Body

Pattern outline

Cutting the scarf body

Fold the fabric in half and cut it into the shape seen in the diagram. I used one of my other hip scarves as a reference to make sure the shape is right and that it would fit me.

Once you are satisfied with the shape, hem the edge of the scarf. I used my serger because it is quick and makes neat edges, but it could just as easily be done with a sewing machine or by hand.

Once the hems are complete, use the washable fabric marker to mark the mid points of the curves on the scarf, which is about 14″ from the sides. These are where your rows start and end. Draw lines on the scarf to indicate where your rows will be crocheted. This example is a scallop pattern. The grey lines indicate the mid point, and the red lines are your crochet rows.

Crochet lines

Crochet Trim

Bead box

Here’s the fun part. Put together a good playlist or load a DVD set of your favorite show because this takes a while. I put my beads in little dishes to make them easy to access.

Line 1: String at least 75 of the 4mm beads on your crochet thread. *Chain 3, chain 1 with a bead, chain 3, stitch into fabric.* Repeat between * you reach the end of the row, then bind off.

Line 2: Same as Line 1.

Detail of beaded coin trim

Line 3: String at least 300 of the 4mm beads on your crochet thread before starting rows. Connect yarn to the fabric.

  1. *Chain 3, chain 1 with a bead, chain 3, stitch into fabric*. Repeat between * until you reach the end of the row, then turn work.
  2. Chain 4 and join at first bead from previous row. *Chain 3, chain 1 with 4 beads, chain 3, join at next bead from previous row.* Repeat between * until you reach the last bead. Chain 4, join, and turn work.
  3. Chain 15. *Join in the middle of the set of beads from previous row. Use the bead threader to pull loop through an 8mm bead then one of the coins.  Secure the coin with a Lark’s Head knot. Pick up the loop from before the 8mm bead and chain 10.* Repeat between * until you reach the last set of beads. Chain 15 and bind off.

Line 4: Same as Line 3.

Additional Notes
I didn’t mark the row placement on the scarf at first because I was going to go freestyle, but I learned really quickly that it is not the best way to go. If it is not practical to use a fabric marker on the fabric, sew a quick and dirty running stitch to mark where the rows should go, and remove that thread after the row has been crocheted.

Scarves should have a row of trim at the bottom to weigh it down.  I haven’t done that in this example, but I will when I make the scarf for my costume. Scarf should be hand washed and air dried. You already knew that, right?

Here is a short video of how the coin belt sounds:

If this tutorial is helpful, please drop me a line.  I would love to see pictures of custom belly dance costume pieces. Enjoy!

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