Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Tunisian costume

Following on from my previous reference to the generally unflattering look of costumes for traditional Middle Eastern and North African dance I give you - my completed Tunisian costume.

Keen followers of the Historical Sew Fortnightly might remember that I made most of this costume for the Squares, Rectangles and Triangles challenge last year, and that I wasn't entirely happy with the end result. Since then I've fixed the qamisa (blouse) by inserting gussets in the sides, and worked out how to wear the melia (wrap) properly. In the last couple of weeks I finally made the qalsoun (pantaloons) and the yellek (waistcoat) into which the edges of the melia are tucked. Neither are visible when the costume is worn, but the qalsoun were just visible in the back view picture of the super-wide Ottoman trousers in the previous post.

All of this activity was necessary (there's nothing like a deadline to spur me into action!) because I needed a costume to wear at a recent event with Ya Raqs. As you can see, it's not the most form-fitting clothing. It is really comfortable to wear though, and stays in place far better than I had expected.

Me in Tunisian costume, with Tameri in a ghawazee coat which I also made

Despite the clear lack of drop-dead elegance, I'm really pleased with the end result. So much so that not only am I actually happy to publish pictures of me wearing it, I've even used one to finally create a profile picture! Thanks to Dave of DFlockton Photography for allowing me to use his pictures.

Photo by DFlockton Photography

Photo by DFlockton Photography


  1. Dear Friend,
    I just found your blog---what a treasure. I just subscribed and am looking forward to fallowing your work.

    At the moment I'm hoping you might be able to help me out. Currently I've been contacted to create Tunisian costumes for a belly dance company. Although I've done a lot of ethnic costuming this one has me stumped. I have lots of pics of the wool yarn belts but can't find any info on how to make them. The group I'm working with is ready to "fake it" but I'm not. I came across your blog and thought, well if anyone would know it would be you. Hope you can help me out.

    Thanks Tracy Shapiro

    1. Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for your kind comments about the blog. I have some written instructions on how to make the belts, which I noted down at the time in case I ever needed to do it again. Do you have an email address that I could send a copy to, please? I will delete the comment afterwards, so that your email address isn't left online.