Monday, July 2, 2012


Who wants to see a beautiful belly dancer using rumpled, wrinkled veil onstage? Nobody! Here are some tips for keeping your veils stage-worthy:

Storing Veils

I like to keep my veils stored together with the costumes they compliment, but many belly dance costumes are so covered in rhinestones, coins, sequins and other types of bling-bling that they may snag the veil.

For local gigs, I have found that carefully folding or rolling a veil and then packing it into a gallon-sized plastic food storage bag works well for keeping my veils protected; I then slide the veil, in it’s own bag into my costume bag. If I am going out of town, or if my veil is going to be sitting in a suitcase or gig bag for hours, I roll the veil around a small cardboard tube, the kind that comes from the inside of paper towels. This seems to alleviate many of the fold lines and creases.

To cut down on wrinkles in 100% silk veils, many dancers wrap them layered with acid-free tissue paper, but even with this precaution, they wrinkle so easily, they will still probably have to be steamed or pressed before use. If you have veils that correspond with a number of costumes, you may want to store them separately. I fold them neatly and stack them into plastic containers , categorized by silk , chiffon and embellished or specialty veils. My friend Najah, a belly dance costume designer, taught me this trick: use over-the-door plastic shoe bags to store rolled veils, belly dance jewelry, finger cymbals and hip scarves in the compartments instead of shoes. This not only is a good use of space in your overly full costume closet, it makes it easy to see what color veils you have at a glance, as well as protecting the veils and your accessories.

Washing Veils

Most veils can be hand washed- or dry cleaned if you prefer- but be wary about dry cleaning unless you know for sure that your cleaner can deal with costume pieces safely- sequins or beads can become discolored or even melt during the dry cleaning process.

It would be wise to do a spot check on the fabric beforehand, to make sure it won’t run or fade if washed. Many veils are manufactured in foreign countries, colored without wash-safe dye, and veils that are made of 100% silk are often hand-dyed. If your veil is embellished with sequins and beads, they will not be harmed when immersed in water during hand washing. Use cool water to wash your veils, and a very mild detergent- I use baby shampoo. I recommend using the bathtub to wash veils in, so the fabric will not wrinkle or get bunched up. Fill your bathtub with cool water, and swish the veil around gently with your hands. Drain the tub and rinse a few times, and then hang the veil to dry.

I have also successfully used Dawn detergent or commercial stain removers like Resolve, to get lipstick and even food stains (ah, the wonders of dancing at a restaurant!) out of my veils. Once again, do a spot-check to make sure that the chemicals in the stain remover will not harm or discolor your veil.

If your veil isn’t embellished on the edges, you can also safely use a clothes dryer after you wash it. Put the dryer on a cool setting, and throw in a clean towel or two to absorb the extra moisture.

Pressing Veils

Veils without bead or sequin embellishments can be ironed easily- just make sure you use a heat setting that is appropriate for the fabric so you don’t scorch the material. For plain or heavily embellished veils, you can also use a clothing steamer instead of an iron to get wrinkles out.

If you opt to iron an embellished veil, you should press around the designs, so as not to flatten or melt the embellishments. A trick that also works for ironing a veil is to lay a light towel or flannel baby blanket over your veil, and use the iron on top of the towel or blanket.

Photo by Lapis

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