Costuming in Egypt: What it's Really Like!

How to Order a Costume from Egypt: Chapter 1

It can be so difficult to order costumes from Egypt. You have the language barrier – even if the vendor speaks English they don't use the same idioms and phrases that we do, so misinterpretation or misunderstanding can be a real problem. Sizes differ drastically from our own. To help make things easier, I have come up with a brief list of how to’s.


Make your measurements in centimeters (cm)! It's not as hard as you think; all tape measures in the US are printed with centimeters on the back side to make it easy for you. If you are worried the costume will be too small add 1 to 2 cm to your measurement unless it is the bra band. If you want to do double hooks for safety you need at least 4 inches; 2 on either side. The conversion from inches to centimeters is 2.54 cm equals one inch so 4 x 2.54 cm is approximately 10 cm (does not have to be exact). Even if your designer keeps your measurements on file, always provide updated ones if it has been more than 6 months since your last order. Your body does not always stay the same size.

Bra Cups

This topic is so dang important as Egyptian cup sizes are not the same. In Egypt, the cup size does NOT change with band size like here in the US. So if you want the cup size to fit – measure your cups! Even if you take one of your best fitting bra’s measure the cup: top to bottom, side to side, and a diagonal. This will help the sewers in Egypt make the correct cup size for you. Sending a picture always helps! Cup sizes over a D or DD are handmade by the sewers! Yes, they create the cups. If you give good measurements you usually get a good fitting cup. Dina cups are molded; they are made on a machine.

Bra Straps

Many of the sewers are doing long bra straps so that you have the option for either halter or regular straps, but sewing skills are a must if you get one of these. Be prepared to move straps and hooks – you are not there for them to sew it on perfectly. These are simple fixes for a good fit. If you cannot sew, learn! Or find someone you can pay to do it for you.


Skirts always measure from the top of your hip (or wherever you like to wear your skirt) to the floor. Sewers usually cut the skirt to the measurement you provide and don’t always allow for seam allowances when they are given measurements to cut the fabric. If the fabric is stretchy not a problem - you can add elastic to hold it up – if it’s not can be a problem. It is often hard to tell how stretchy the fabric they buy for you is.

Other Points to be Aware of When Ordering Costumes…. Not all sewers are created equal. Many women sew in their homes and some are actually the bread winners supporting their families. These women will pick up the orders and usually material to do the costumes. Sometimes they supply the beads and sequins or sometimes they pick it up with the order and return it to the vendor when done. Others go to what you can call factory apartments. All supplies are kept there and the women go there to sew and then go home at the end of the day. They are paid by the finished work and,unless the vendor does quality control at the time they receive the costume, some detail might be missed – especially if trying to meet your deadline.

Always allow min 4 to 6 weeks for a costume to be made. If a sewer is really good it might take longer due to the number of orders she may have and she will employ less skilled women to do simpler projects. If your costume is taking longer than this there can be several reasons.

  1. The vendor has pissed off the sewer either by making unreasonable (by Egyptian standards) demands and they have quit

  2. They are really good and have been overwhelmed with requests.

  3. Death, marriages, illness, births and holidays also will affect how long it will take them to make.

Just like here – life gets in the way.

Watch for additional chapters on – Costuming in Egypt and what it’s really like there!

#julianna #culture #costumes

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Costuming in Egypt: What it's Really Like! Part 2

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