VaVaVette DIY: Shimmy Belt

VaVaVetteVaVaVette, Denver’s one- stop burlesque shop opens later this month!  If you’re near Denver- Make sure you visit their Grand Opening June 22nd!  VaVaVette is located on the south side of Wazee Union.

D.I.Y. by Cora Vette- The Shimmy Belt

The Shimmy belt is a burlesque staple that has been used and abused by more burlesque performers that you can poke a stick at. They have been glued, pinned, sewn, stapled and put together in countless ways. This D.I.Y. article explains how to make a fully sewn shimmy belt that will not melt in your car on long trips across the country to perform with your fabulous friends in other titties…I mean cities…

First, you need a sewing machine. True, you could sew it by hand, but who really wants to do that? There are tons of stitches…sew many stitches…My sewing machine is the magical Pfaff 1222E that my mom got when I was born. It sews through damn near anything. But, I believe for this project, any ol’ machine will do.

You will want to get a sewing machine needle that is made for denim or a heavier fabric. The thinner ones will break trying to go through the bulky fringe and belting. Ask your local sewing store if you are unsure of which type of needle you need.

The big rule of fringe is, NEVER pull the stabilizing thread that connects the fringe at the bottom until AFTER you are completely finished. Trust me, I did it once. A renegade 6-inch piece of blue fringe got tangled under the needle and caused $300 worth of damage to my beloved Pfaff…lesson learned.

Ok, down to the real business. I use a base of 1 inch nylon webbing. It is strong and wears well. It doesn’t shrink or expand with sweat (not that we sweat of course)…

Shimmy Pic 1WEBChoose a nice big zig zag stitch. You want to use a zig zag stitch because even though the belt and fringe don’t have much stretch to them, the zig zag will accommodate any stress the belt may have to take and prevent the thread from snapping.

Lay the bottom layer (if doing a multi-layer fringe belt like this one) near the bottom of the webbing as pictured and stitch. For the best attachment, I try to get most of the tightly sewn loop at the top of Shimmy Pic 2WEBthe fringe to overlap the webbing. For this project, I was making a three layer fringe belt, but you can do it with two or even one. Fringe can be expensive! Just adjust where you place the fringe on the belt to leave room for how many layers you are planning to use. Note: Always start with the bottom layer. It is much easier to sew additional layers of fringe on top, rather than to try to sew fringe under fringe…this is not fun and should not be attempted by anyone. Seriously, it is just icky. If you are only using one layer, sew it near the top.

Shimmy3_4This is what the underside of my belt looks like after all three layers are fully sewn (See image 3).

There are many ways to finish and adorn the top of your shimmy belt. For this one, I used Wrights Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape. But, you could use any kind of trim, sequins or beading…really, anything you wish.  To apply the bias tape,  unroll the package and wrap it around the top making sure that the longer side is under the belt so when you sew the top, you are also catching the bottom in your stitch. The sewing is done!

Shimmy Pic 6WEBThen, of course, you need some sparkle! I applied some rhinestones with E-6000. Note –  I am having coffee and not wine. It was 10AM after all…

Now, all that is left is to attach the fastener! I use heavy duty snaps because they are strong and easy to remove onstage. But, you can also use hooks or velcro or any other attachment.

Then, all that is left is to pull the bottom thread, and start shaking it!

Of course, If you don’t want to go through all the trouble of making one yourself, we have custom shimmy belts for sale online at Until next time…Happy Shimmying!

xoxo Cora Vette

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