Costuming Tips & Tricks, Performance Skills, Technique Studio, Zills

Amazing No-Sew Finger Cymbal Elastic (Updated!)

Get a snug, comfy fit with this hassle-free zill hack

AMAZING No-Sew Finger Cymbal Elastic
image via Flickr by Sandrine Magrin

The Dream: Finger cymbals that stay on your fingers without pinching or turning your fingertips blue, staying snug and comfy even when your weight fluctuates. Better yet: Finger cymbal elastic that does all this with no needle and thread!

The Solution: Soft but firm hair elastics (ponytail holders, as we call them in my neck of the woods). The grip is solid but soft. The elasticity is amazing and outlasts sewn elastic. I can even switch my thumb and finger zills around and they still fit perfectly!


What you needzills1

  • Your zills
  • A butter knife, flathead screwdriver or another flat implement
  • 1″ ponytail holders made from rolled fabric.
    NOTE: The Scunchi model photographed here is no longer available. But dancers are reporting that this Vidal Sassoon style is working just fine!*
  • Check that the ones you’re buying are the smaller size (1″) and made from rolled fabric that you can unroll with your fingers (see closeup at right).


What to do

1) Hold one of the elastics against the underside of one of your zills.



2) Use the butterknife or screwdriver to push the elastic through from the underside and pull it through from the top with your fingertips (this part takes patience. If the fabric bunches up and won’t go through, start over)



3) Push a second area of the elastic through the other zill slot. Push from underneath with the knife or screwdriver, as before, and pull through from the top.


4) Pull all the slack through to the top of the zill, and even up the two loops. TaDaa! When you’ve done this with all four zills you are done. Your zills should now fit snugly and comfortably, and your work will last you through many, many hours of zilling!

Tip: If you have very small fingers and the elastics aren’t tight enough, try knotting them in the middle and re-inserting.


* Much gratitude to Susan Frank for finding us a replacement product! YAYYYY!


Copyright 2015 by Lauren Zehara Haas for Belly Dance U. 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.



  1. Lauren, my name is Bruce Rogers. I invented and patented the hair accessory formerly sold by Scunci as Soft and Light. You are right. As of September 2014, they were no longer sold by Scunci. Over the years, I’ve produced them in small batches. However, mine tend to be larger in circumference and softer to the touch than those that Scunci manufactured. If you’d like, send me your phone number, and I’ll call you to talk about getting you a sample of mine to see if they work for your purposes.

    1. Wow, Bruce, thank you. I’m currently in Thailand and don’t expect to be back in the US until spring, but I may be able to arrange for another dancer to receive and test them. Although if they’re larger and softer, they probably will not work for us. The Scunci ones were perfect, anything looser would not be secure.

      Did you have any idea you had patented finger cymbal accessories for bellydancers? LOL! Perhaps you should talk to the major manufacturers (Saroyan and Turquoise) about packaging their zills with your elastics instead of the strips of elastic they currently include. Might be worth manufacturing the smaller ones for this market!

  2. This hack is great since I’ve had to teach basic sewing skills tone dancers. Bruce, thank you for creating this style of hair tie. I like them SO much more than any other style. If you pursue marketing them to bellydancers, I would happily volunteer.

  3. Hi, Lauren!
    Thank you for this brilliant hack for zills! A bunch of us here in Philly, PA are looking forward to a zills workshop with Artemis Mourat, so when I lucked on to your great idea here I went crazy trying to track down some of these particular ponytailers. No luck, as you can imagine, since you and others have already looked so thoroughly.
    But I just bought some Vidal Sassoon nylon elastic ponytail holders from Amazon. They seem to be working out okay. Here’s the URL–

    I could write a whole dissertation about finding the Holy Grail Scuncis at an online store called Boots in the UK who don’t ship to the USA, and the offer on Amazon CA for an item that looks like the right thing but can only be bought in vast lots for over $60 USD. So I decided to try an alternative brand, hoping they would be made the same way as the Scuncis. (From the photo of the Vidal Sassoons on Amazon, I got the impression that they might indeed be made of a folded elastic material without an actual unwanted band of elastic inside) , I’ll give ’em a workout and report back:-)

    1. WOW this is an outstanding lead, thank you! I’m in Asia at the moment, so it’s very hard for me to determine which replacements might be widely available in the US and Europe, where most of my readers are. My daughter just hauled a bag of hair ties all the way to Thailand for me, no questions asked, bless her heart. I’ll look into the Vidal Sassoon ones!

  4. This is a great idea. Has anyone tried using hair ties of any sort for Egyptian-style 1-hole sagat? I have a couple of sets I bought in Cairo which I’ve not jet managed to buy suitable elastic for, and now I’m wondering if they could be made to do the job…

      1. I have tried it. But with difficulty. Once the elastic is inserted it’s fine. But it ain’t easy. I don’t know how you can use a butter knife pushing through the slits. You need a thinner tool to push the fabric through. But it is a good idea.

        1. Thanks for your feedback. I guess I got lucky with my flatware set — as you can see in the pics, my butter knives are very tapered and slender at the tip. People with chunky cutlery probably need different ideas. A fork with slender tines might work? Or a very slender screwdriver, maybe?

          1. Ah, this might work! Some bobby pins have a distinct ball on the end that might not fit in a narrow zill slot, but they’re all different. A slender screwdriver, steak knife, or fork tip might work, too.

    1. Thanks for the lead! I looked closely at the customer photos and these are definitely not the rolled fabric kind. They’re the thick rubbery ones. They might fit through the slots and work, but I think they’d be hard on your fingers.

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