Time for ‘T’?

Amanda Fraser


I have been told that I don’t do enough self-promotion or ‘bigging up’.  I know that as someone trying to earn a living making things it’s something I should get better at, but I find it really hard.  However, today I’m breaking the mould and am telling you all about one of my favourite creations.

I accidently invented a dress (or so I like to think).

  Lady in Red

Over the years I’ve made all sorts of galabeyas and dance dresses for belly dancers to ooze in.  They’ve gone from those with long flouncy sleeves and A-line skirts with swish, via straight bodied dresses with neat little elbow-length sleeves, to form-fitting short-sleeved dresses that are just plain simple.


Enter the T-dress.  The clue is in the name, they are just a ‘T’ shape, rather like a t-shirt in fact, but have considerably more shaping and are perfect for dancers.  These little dresses can be worn to ‘dress up’ at a hafla,  to slip on between sets or even to perform that very special solo.  They are so simple they become extremely versatile!

If you are performing a flashy dance, you don’t need or want a flashy costume to detract from it.  Simple is good.  Dancers that are experimenting with props would do well to look at a simple dress to perform in.  Leave your arms and hands free and let your dance moves and prop ‘tricks’ show themselves off.

Lush in plush

Sleeveless vs sleeves

At a recent event I discussed the ‘no sleeves’ aspect with a couple of customers.  I know there are ladies who want to cover their ‘bingo wings’ and scabby elbows, and I am aware the t-dress won’t work for you.  (I promise I will make some sleeved dresses for you very shortly)  However, one of the REALLY big benefits of the short-sleeved dress is that it reduces the evident width of fabric across your body.  If you are a plus size lady, or if you have a large bosom, wearing a dress which then has another 4-6” of fabric on either side of your body makes you look very wide at the top end.  An almost sleeveless dress makes you a single column of colour to the eye of beholders.

There is no right or wrong answer, just what works for you.


A simple dress can be dolled up or dressed down.  Adding a plain colour sash will let you do a smidgeon of folk or a cute little assaya dance.  A coin or fringed belt will show off your movements in an earthy piece of beladi, and a bright and shiney sequin belt, or a sash of vibrant foil will suit itself perfectly for a bouncy piece of pop.  It’s always worth finding a costume or dress that will allow you to use it in a variety of ways.  Money you save on frocks can be usefully spent on workshops!

Like most of my creations, I use remnants or bolt-ends of cloth because they are cheaper.  Whilst that does mean that I can’t sell you seven matching dresses for a troupe (although we can buy in fabric for that), I can sell you a unique and interesting dress that (almost) no one else will have.  I say  ‘almost’ because sometimes I get big chunks of cloth and two or three dresses emerge from under the needle.  All are hand trimmed with a modest degree of bling on the neck.

by Hooded Lens

Hanger appeal

And when I say ‘plain’ and ‘simple’ please don’t mistake that for ‘dull’ or ‘boring’.  Every fabric is interesting be it a vibrant and wacky print, or a sumptuous velvet texture.  Every dress either shines, glistens or makes your eyes pop!

Sadly the dresses don’t always look their best on the rail – there is no barrage of bling to bring you in, but if you see me and a rail at an event, do come and try one on.  Try out the fit and feel of them and see if the simple cut and fab fabrics don’t make you feel like a proper dancer.

I did wonder if making a dress that could be used in a number of ways was cutting my own throat.  But no, these dresses are comfortable and make dancers feel good about themselves, and surprisingly, (or is that unsurprisingly?) many customers come back for seconds and thirds!

Do you have one of my T-dresses, do you love it?  Why not send me a photo in action?