Mozuna Ropes

What are Mozuna ropes? Mozunas are Moroccan metal sequins, originally made in silver. The ropes have them strewn in tiny loops along their length, and as far as I know, are used for decorating camels and horses. Like a lot of other similar adornment, dancers have adopted them. And why wouldn’t we? They can be wrapped around hips, layered over skirts, tied with hair; they have shiny metal discs that bounce and reflect the light. They are wonderfully versatile yet lightweight.

Sadly they can be a bit difficult to find outside of Morocco. Artemis Import in the US has them often, so does Tribe Zuza in the UK, but finding the colour you want can be trickier. Furthermore, us plus sizes do need longer lengths for our wider hips, and quite often the imported ones are shorter, about 1 metre long.

I’d advocate, if possible, to obtain them directly from the local artisans. However, not all of us can do this (either directly or by proxy), or we might want something special. Luckily, they are easy to make. You will need:

  • a decent amount of thin yarn, in your choice of colour: this needs to be thin but not *too* thin; I’d also suggest using wool that is not too fluffy, or some type of cotton/viscose yarn.
  • Mozunas: try to get the original Moroccan; if not, vintage metal flat sequins should work; normal plastic flat sequins will work in a pinch, and of course you could try other types, but they won’t look the same
  • one wool needle (short, thick, with a big eye)
mozuna ropes components
Components

Start by preparing the strands for your braids. You’ll need about 1.3x the length of your finished braid per strand, so about 3 metres for a 2.3 metre rope. When preparing these, it’s easier if you loop the yarn around fixed heavy objects to keep them in place and with some tension. So you will need a lot of space. How many threads per strand will depend on the thickness of your yarn; I used 45 loops for each of mine, which turned into 90 threads once I removed the loops from the fixed points, and extended them as a single braid strand. Realistically, I could have used even more to make it a bit thicker. Make three of these strands (so, three strands at 90 thread each), making sure you keep them laid out and as stretched as possible.

Once you’ve got all three strands, tie them at the top, leaving a bit that will become a tiny pompom, secure this somewhere like a door knob, and start braiding. You will want to keep the strands as separate as possible as you do. This will be fiddly but not difficult, you could use some cardboard squares with a slit to insert the bottom of each thread and wrap it, to make them easier to manage and prevent tangling. Just don’t braid more than 4-6 passes without untangling the strands, and don’t braid too tightly. Braid to the end, and tie it, this time make the knot TIGHT. Trim both ends so the ends are even and look fluffy

Now grab a double thread of your same yarn, thread through the needle, tie both ends so you have a four-thread strand, and put through the braid, securing it with a knot if necessary. If your yarn is a bit thick, you might only need the yarn doubled. Use your criteria, you want the loops to be strong. String a mozuna, leave about 1-2cm and string back in through to the other side of the braid, and do the same there. When you’ve put the mozuna loops on both sides, knot in place (to prevent unraveling) then put the needle along the rope, about an inch; bring it out, and do the same. Continue knotting and stringing until you reach the end of the rope. If you are feeling extra fancy, or want to add even more bling, do the same but this time along the sides of the braid, not top and bottom, and using the space in between the original loops so there’s more surface with metal. Once you’re happy with the amount of mozunas you’ve added, add beads over the end knots if you want; this will also help secure them.

threading and knotting
Threading mozunas and knotting the loops

Your mozuma rope is done.

You can get your yarn from local haberdashery, or Hobbycraft, I recommend you figure out how much you’ll need. I’ve done mine using lace-weight yarn that I’d bought for a hip shawl but found to be too thin. It has red lurex, so it’s a bit more showy. I used about 800 metres (one and a half 500m cones), you will use less if your thread is thicker. But yarn is measured by weight not length, so ask the attendants for approximations. Crochet yarn should be suitable; make sure you are not buying something that will unravel or cut easily. Buy all the yarn at once as the colour can be different depending on the dying batch.

Artemis Bazaar in the US and Hillary’s Bazaar in the UK both sell Mozunas. They are inexpensive, and you shouldn’t need a lot, 200 should be enough for a 2.5m rope with one pair every 2.5cm; double that if you want the second layer of mozunas.

Do you have mozuna ropes? What’s your favourite way of using them? Tell me in a comment!
Have fun, and happy making!

Mozuna Rope Finished
Mozuna Rope Finished

Review: Shimmy Sista’s Shrug

Shimmy Sista Shrug

Shimmy Sista Shrug

I’ve heard plenty of good things about ShimmySista, but since they are based in the US, I didn’t want to order, to avoid expensive shipping and risk being stung by Royal Mail with huge taxes. Luckily, someone I know in the US did order one, and found it a *little* big, and knowing her personally, I knew it would work for me. I purchased it new from her and shipped it reasonably, and didn’t get any taxes on it.

The shrug is an interesting shape, as you can see in the photo. It is a touch big on me and I will need to reduce the bottom, but that doesn’t make it fit too bad. The cut frames the bust beautifully too. The material is good stretch cotton, seams are all overlocked properly with a 5-thread serging and a healthy seam allowance (no hair-thin seams here!), and the finishing on the open edges is an overlocked rolled hem that creates a teensy bit of a lettuce effect on the stretch. The only thing I would suggest is that it requires a wash before first use… I wore it straight into my ATS class, and when I inevitably removed it halfway through, I had black fluff all over my armpits and inner elbows, which wasn’t attractive.

This is a shrug that might not work for all styles, but if you wear standard tank-tops and want something to cover up for class, it should be really useful. And the asking price is more than fair. I am just sad it doesn’t come in any other colours or options… a black mesh or stretch lace version would be quite useful and pretty, and I wish there was a clubbing version made with something more interesting or textured, like irregular big hole stretch mesh, to combine when I go to gigs or the like.

So if you’ve been eyeing these, give them a try! I’ve found I am not using mine as much for actual class but it’s a great way of covering up to wear before or after, and I’m pretty sure it should be quite cool over a decorated bra and paired with cotton tribal trousers or the new FCBD Bessie skirt for a light summer costume.

You can purchase the Shrug at Shimmy Sista’s store, here http://www.shimmysista.com/shrug.htm

Addendum: On Thursday, I came back from class, went to remove the shrug, and one of my nails -which aren’t sharp, and are maybe a couple of millimetres long, so pretty tame as far as talons go- went through the stretching fabric, just like that. I am *not* happy about it, but there’s nothing I can do other than fix the tear. It’s the first time I ever have something like this happen with a piece of clothing, and suggests to me that the fabric in the area was a bit too thin, which is ironic seeing that it was very close to the area where I was thinking of taking it in as it was too loose. Anyway, in the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to mention this. And I think that I will re-evaluate any future purchases.

New utility page: Circle Skirt calculation

Just been using this circle skirt calculation script for myself on and off, and I decided to add it to the website. Basically, it’s a small script that allows you to enter your waist, the length of the skirt you want in centimetres, and the amount of panels you want to use for the skirt, and it will give you a calculation of how big you need the inner and outer radius of your semi-circle panel to be. Or for those not math-inclined, the translation: how big the “hole” in the middle needs to be to accommodate your waist, and how big the semi-circle needs to be, using the amount of panels you want to use.

The script calculates things on the fly and does not collect any data, so I will not see anything you enter.
Hope you find it useful!

circle-skirts-calculation

Black and Silver Old School ATS bra and belt, Mermaid Skirts and Cholis

Black fusion costume

Black fusion costume

Last week we had a belly dancers party night at the local restaurant, and that usually means showing off whatever I’ve just finished. This time it was doubly interesting, as my friend L was wearing a chocolate mermaid skirt and off-the-shoulder-choli that I made for her, and I was using my Old School ATS bra and belt, and the black velvet mermaid skirt for the first time. My friend didn’t want to bother with a body-stocking, so went with a cami under her choli, and finished it all with her belt. I used a bodystocking and bolero from BellyStockings.com.

The off-the-shoulder-choli was made simply by removing a bit off piece B and D on the FCBD pattern, to create the “strap” look, and not stitching the top part of the sleeve piece, although depending on your shape, you might need to take some of this in, or adapt it. As usual with this pattern, YMMV and always do a test run to make sure everything is looking the way you want it to look.

Chocolate Velvet Costume

Chocolate Velvet Costume

I’ve mentioned before that the mermaid skirts, when cut properly and carefully, allow to make a full choli with leftover fabric. Three metres of stretch velvet was enough to do both pieces, I marked both patterns before cutting to make sure pile and fabric stretch would be the way it needed to be. I’ve made a similar one in black for myself to match the skirt and to go with ATS costumes. Both cholis include the extra wide back piece D to cover up bra straps, and a “tube” to go over the bra band for a neater look, although mine will be finished with more of a sweatheart cut, as I think it favours me better than the V neck. I hope I can get photos wearing it next week during the ATS residential.

Click on any of the photos to see a bigger version, and please excuse de decapitated photos, as I wanted to preserve my friend’s anonymity.

Finished teal costume

Finished Teal Costume

Finished Teal Costume

Last weekend I attended Orient Expressions’ Hafla, and managed to secure a performance spot. I’ll go over the performance on a separate post, with a video included and notes on the choreography, but right now I wanted to show off the finished teal costume. Click on the photo on the left for a bigger image.

I created a mermaid skirt in teal stretch velvet using the method/pattern outlined here, and although this time the bottom part is fuller, there’s still no real train (mental note for the future: raise the front, but leave the back train). The skirt used 3 metres of fabric, and the leftover scraps gave just enough fabric for a matching short-sleeved choli, which should come handy if I use my sea green Devadasi Designs skirt, or if I want a slightly more covered look.

You can also see how the Czech crystal hip drapes worked on the belt and bra. There was a small malfunction of one of the drapes when the link attaching them to the belt burst open; I’ll have to replace them with a double-ring.

The whole costume was tied together with the help of this bolero from Belly Dancing Direct (review coming up!), and one of their body stockings, although I am thinking of getting a long sleeved underbust bodystocking to use next time with this and a couple of other costumes I’ve done or I’m making.

Overall, I am extremely pleased, and my only regret right now is that I didn’t step out of my comfort zone with the decoration enough to take it to the next level. I would still love something in peacock colours, and might just have to approach it again from a different angle after I’m done with the projects list. What do you think?

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