Costuming Tips & Tricks, Performance Skills

How to Make a Fishnet Belly Dance Bodystocking

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The best belly dance bodystocking is this DIY version.

I’ve tried a variety of body stockings for bellydance, but by FAR my favorite is this do-it-yourself model made from a pair of fishnet dance tights.

Why do I love this one so much?

Because high-lycra-content fishnet makes your midsection look like Tina Turner’s legs!

As you can see from the picture, it barely shows up from a distance because it fits close, doesn’t wrinkle, and lets a lot more of my own skin show through than mesh does. Up close, fishnet has that sex appeal that makes it seem more like you’re enhancing and less like you’re trying to hide something. Also:

  • Open weave is cooler
  • Doesn’t make you look like a Cabbage Patch doll like some bellydance body stockings
  • Belly button looks natural
  • Super elasticity means it offers some real girdle-like control for your belly and midsection (I haven’t found any premade stockings that offer this level of girdle-like control)
  • Very durable and tough
  • Surprisingly easy to make

The only cons are that the high-quality fishnets are only available in a very limited color selection, and the girdle-like action means your shimmies won’t be as jigglicious.

Making the Bodystocking

You will need:

  • A pair of Capezio Women’s Professional Fishnet Seamless Tights in your size or, if you’re tall, a size larger than you need. The Capezio tights have a 20% lycra content that makes the best bodystockings — by far the best shaping & holding-in effect possible. And they are seamless. NOTE: Danskin Professional Fishnets USED to have a 32% lycra content, but they are now made with only 12% and no longer make the best body stockings. They were the best.
  • NOTE: I found these Leg Avenue Professional fishnets that are 29% lycra, but they don’t promise to be seamless, so they probably have an ugly seam running up the center front and back. An experiences seamstress may be able to  turn these sideways so the seams are on the sides and re-create a crotch, or attach them to a dance trunk. I don’t recommend this as a beginner project, though, and there would be no way to remove the seams completely.
  • Adjustable bra straps, or two 18″ pieces of firm soft elastic, grosgrain ribbon, etc to make straps (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread (or dental floss)

Step One: Cut off the legs

fishnet1
Cut each leg straight across, at least two inches below the crotch. The cut edge is going to roll up when you put them on and create something like an elastic band that will grip below your buttocks and keep them from riding up or giving you a screaming wedgie while you dance. Remember, you can always cut off MORE if you decide you’ve left too much leg, so leave quite a bit.

fishnet2

Step Two: Start attaching the straps

Some bellydancers sew hooks around their bra and hook them directly into the fishnet to hold the bodystocking up without straps. I’ve done this, but with the firm pull of all the lycra action in this stocking, it can create a downward pull on your bra that impacts fit.

I prefer the security of straps on my body stocking. I wear my costume bra OVER my stocking and then I use a U-top (from L Rose Designs), underbust vest, or a top tied under the bust to hide my straps. Wearing a colored vest or top hides my straps AND my backfat (!), carries up the color from my skirt, and gives a less bare-skinned look to my costuming overall that I really like for most venues.

I’m 5’9″ tall and find that 14″ long straps work well for me. You can buy adjustable bra straps, or start out with 18″ length elastic or ribbon and cut them to fit before the final step. In the example photo, I’m recycling straps from an old bra.

fishnet5

Sew both straps close to the center back of the stocking, no more than two or three inches apart on the unstretched elastic. Angle the straps slightly outward. It’s important to have them very close together. When you stretch the body stocking to put it on, they’ll be moving further apart. And you want them to hold the CENTER back of the stocking up high, so it doesn’t slip below your underbust top. You could also cross the straps in the back, but they’d need to be cut a little longer and angled inward slightly rather than outward.

fishnet3

 


Step Three: Secure the straps

The front of the straps should be placed very WIDE. Remember, they’re not attached to the front of the stocking, but to the SIDES of the stocking, slightly forward of the center of each side. You want the stocking to ride just below your bust and then rise up right where an underwire would ride, at the outside of your bust. Try the stocking on, determine the correct length for each strap, and pin the straps where you need them to fit. Take off the stocking, check that everything is symmetrical, and stitch the straps in place. They should be *just* forward of center on each side of the stocking.
Finished stocking

Wearing the stocking

This model is wearing the stocking over a black bra to show you how it should fit. Normally it would be worn under your costume bra.

Notice how the straps sit close together in back (but not nearly as close as they looked on the unstretched bodystocking). See how they help to hold the back elastic up high, where it will be hidden by a vest or crop top? And the straps pull the sides of the stocking high as well, which will keep the elastic close, under the costume bra.
finished body stocking pic 1 finished body stocking pic 2

Your stocking is finished! If you want, you could sew a few scattered sequins over it. I often spray mine with glitter hairspray right before I go onstage. It doesn’t last long, but it’s superquick and cheap.

You could  make gauntlets out of the leftover legs, and sew a few sequins on them as well if you’re feeling very crafty.

Under the costume, it looks like this!

If you make a stocking, e-mail me and tell me how your project went! I’d love to see pictures of you wearing it.

 


 

Copyright 2015 by Lauren Zehara Haas for BellydanceU. If you want to share this article, please do so by providing a link to this page. You’re more than welcome to print yourself a copy, but copying and distributing this article is prohibited.

5 Comments

  1. 57 just getting into this after a back injury , used to hula / Tahitian dance , a lonnng time ago , am I to far gone to learn this stuff ,, and oh yeah im about fifty pounds fluffier then I desire to be , ,,,,, working on it ,, need to find out where to learn and how to get costume in my size , a 16 to 20 right now , lol

    1. Of course you’re not too far gone! You need a knowledgable teacher who can help you learn safely after a back injury though. A good place to look for teachers is Shira’s worldwide directory, here: http://www.shira.net/directory.htm

      If I were you, I’d e-mail the teachers in your area and ask them some questions. Most teachers accept students of any age, but if you ask them specifically “how many older students do you have in your classes?” that will tell you a lot. The teachers who are best at working with mature students will have quite a few (I had a whole senior troupe at my studio when I was teaching).You could also ask “What training do you have in helping students dance safely?” The right teacher for you is going to be someone with a fitness certification or some anatomy training. You don’t want to end up in a class where you’re expected to do challenging backbends or unsafe movements.

      As far as finding a costume your size, check out http://www.bellydanceatanysize.com for ideas, sources and inspiration.

      Good luck, I hope you enjoy your dance journey!

  2. Hi Lauren,

    I was looking for a body stocking for a performance next month and this looks fantastic. I will definitely be making one. Can you tell me – is it just the straps you are needing to hide, or does the top elastic of the stocking tend to show too? I’m wondering how you could get away with wearing this with no U top. If the top elastic is not the problem, maybe I could try using more decorative straps or jeweling them (so it looks like they are “supposed” to show?)

    Thank you for the instructions!

    1. The elastic top of the stocking tends to stay under the edge of the bra, except at the center front and sometimes in back. It wouldn’t be hard to pin it in place, or sew hooks into the bra and hook it in place. You could use clear or decorated straps, or even snap or pin the straps so they stay under the bra straps (unless the bra is a halter, of course). You may also be able to trim the elastic band at the top to make it narrower so it’s easier to hook in place (I’ve done this with some stockings, there was fraying but it held together just fine).

      I’ve tried using NO straps and sewing hooks into the bra band to attach the stocking, but that doesn’t work with high-Lycra-content fishnet; the stocking just keeps pulling the bra downward. But a hybrid, hooks + straps, should work!

  3. no one is too far gone to learn. I turned 60 in march and I started taking my classes. I am in intermediate now. I also make my own costumes.

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