Pattern Review: Folkwear #144 Tribal Style Belly Dancer

Folkwear 144 Tribal Dancer

Folkwear 144 Tribal Dancer

The pack contains instructions for creating a full tribal outfit, but only one real pattern. The items include a hip scarf, a hip belt, coin bra, choli, pantaloons and skirt. The instructions for the hip scarf and belt are ok, but they’re nothing that an enterprising person looking to make themselves the items couldn’t figure out for themselves (triangular cut for the hip scarf, for instance). The instructions for the bra are sketchy, and if you want to make your own bra from scratch, this is not the set for you, and you should instead be looking for Dawn Devine’s Embellished Bras. The fact that there is a full book devoted to the techniques necessary should tell you all you need to know about the couple of pages devoted to it here. Needless to say, after having done the process a few times myself, I found the instructions here rather lacking in precision if not flat out creating a sloppy finish.

The skirt is also not good. Most Tribal dancers will tell you that to get the proper “fly” effect when spinning, you should use a circle pattern for the first tier. This isn’t the case here, and suggests standard strips which, when creating a more standard 24 yard skirt, would cause considerable bulk, and in its provided 10-yard version, would not fit the 2XL offered in the back.

And then we come to the Choli. I’ve tried. I’ve REALLY tried. All the pieces do go together, I have to say. They just don’t go together in anything that resembles a good fit. I understand that whoever created this wanted to follow historical methods, but truly? Tribal Dancing is not historical, and a lot of dancers will be using knits and cotton/lycra blends to make their cholis. Last I checked, knits and lycras are not historical, and it saddens me that having a good, comfortable fit was skewed in favour of some politically correct cutting and assembly method. And yes, I can’t believe I’ve just written that either, but the squares/triangles apparently comes from the choli “originally cut from loom-woven cloth in a geometric way that minimizes waste”. All I can say is, thank goodness I cut the pieces using Swedish paper so I didn’t waste fabric on this.

The instructions for the pantaloons are pretty similar, and consist mostly of creating two tubes and joining them at the top, and some bizarre comment about a horizontal pleat if they are too long. I am still trying to get my head around what exactly is meant there. The instructions for creating fringe are decent, except for the part about calculating the amount needed. It says “multiply the fringe length by the distance to be covered” which makes no sense whatsoever, as the width of the yarn used for the fringe and how thick you want to lay it varies and will therefore affect the amount of fringe you need.

Overall, there’s nothing you can find in this pattern that isn’t already available (and much better) online. I was really, REALLY looking forwards to using this, and I have the utmost respect for FCBD, and I am amazed that this has survived at all, when a quick look at the finished garment on the photo should tell you there’s something very wrong when the sleeves bunch like they do. And any quick online research will show you similar frustrations encountered by other people. Overall, there’s only two things I can recommend this pattern for: composting, and burning; at least either way it will become useful. Just remember to remove the plastic bag first.

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6 Responses

  1. pam says:

    thanks i needed that!

  2. Naima Dance says:

    Thanks for the review. I was looking at this pattern but wasn’t sure if it was really worth $20.

  3. Mary says:

    Thanks for good review. I was thinking of buying this pattern, but will give it some thought now. I’m a beginner sewer and would like patterns to make a choli and pantaloons from. Where can I get such patterns?

    • Arien says:

      You’re welcome, Mary.

      The pattern itself isn’t *difficult*, the straight lines make it easier to cut, but it also means that you will need lots of pinning and trials before you figure out how to adapt it to best fit your body. And it’s *fiddly*, maybe too fiddly for a beginner.

      There are some free patterns available online, but it depends on your level of comfort printing/adapting patterns. I’ve heard really good things about the Black Swan Tribe pattern, found here but you will need to scale to fit you.

      Neither the Folkwear nor the Black Swan patterns will work off the bat if you have a patterned fabric that can’t have that middle-of-the-bust- seam. If you are feeling adventurous, you could always deconstruct an old t-shirt that fits, adding under-bust darts, and cut to size.

      Black Swan also has pantaloons pattern, but again, you need to adapt to your body.

      Right now I am experimenting with adding a yoke for the hips that is just bit over the actual size needed, so it lays flat against the hips, and pleating the bulk of the legs fabric to it, to get a nicer shape. I haven’t had a chance to dance in them yet, but the results are promising, and as someone with BIG hips, any reduction in bulk is very welcome. This yoke ill also come handy if you’re part of the “big booty” club, and need extra length on the back to avoid the dip and have an even waistband.

      I’ll post more as I try things.

  4. Mary Hopson says:

    Thanks Arien! I’ve previously seen the BlackSwanTribe patterns for the choli and pantaloons, but I’m not confident in making the patterns and scaling them to fit me. I don’t like how the choli turned out (the completed choli in the photos don’t inspire me).

    Don’t the pantaloons in the Folkwear pattern have a yoke for the hips? It looks like it does to me, but I could be wrong.

    I really appreciate your views and posts. You’ve got an excellent blog!

  1. October 10, 2013

    […] reviewed the Folkwear-FCBD pattern in the past. Make no mistake, my issues with the pattern are still there, although I have found that the […]

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