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Today’s video was filmed April 5, 2019 at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships in Salt Lake City.  This is the first of about ten blogs I filmed during the event, featuring a variety of ice skating costume designs.

adult figure skating dress, ice dance dress at Adult Nationals 2019, bust support


June, an ice dancer, is today’s model.

I loved her and her partner’s European Waltz routine as well as how her costume was perfectly designed for the music and her body shape.

During our pre-interview, June told me she makes all her ice dance dresses.  Of course, I really appreciate this since I created an online sewing school teaching folks to make professional-quality Dancesport, Country, and Skate dresses.

Click here for more information about my online sewing school.
Click here for a mini-sewing-school featuring free sewing and dress fitting videos.


However, there were two things I love even more than the fact that June makes her own ice skating costumes:

  1. She made her ice dance dress using princess seams to create proper breast shape for a mature, shapely woman.
  2. June added small bra padding to offer additional bust support and shape.

Q: Why am I sew excited about princess seams and bra cups?

A: Because those two dress elements seem to be a rare commodity in women’s adult ice skating costumes.

Both on and off-camera, June and I talked about how poorly many women’s competition dresses fit.  We both agreed, that on average, women’s figure skating dresses are not made for womanly figures.  They are cut out using enlarged children’s patterns that are not adapted for womanly curves: breasts, bellies and bums.  (Check out the video below for our live conversation.)

While at the 2019 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championship event, I worked several twelve to fourteen hour days. What a fabulous experience! I had a great time and met many amazing people.   Thanks SEW much to my sewing mom who came to help me that week!

It was my first extended immersion into the figure skating world.  It was also my first time seeing dozens of skater dresses up close and personal.


What is the underlying theme for adult ice skating dresses of all styles?

I noticed most curvy women wear dresses that do not fit their body well.

I noticed the leotards do not offer proper support or shaping for the three Bs: breasts, bellies, and bums.

  • The commonly used “V” skirt attachment makes most women’s tummy curves look larger.
  • There is no bust support for large breasted women.
  • For moderately-endowed women, their breasts are pressed flat since the entire front of the leotard has no princess seams.
  • I saw many women try to camouflage a regular street bra or body shaper inside their dress in an attempt to look and feel better in their competition dresses.


In other words, the construction of many competition ice skating costumes is such that the dresses do not flatter curvy female figures.

As a woman, a retired ballroom competitor, a hobby skater, and a dressmaker, this upsets me a lot.

I find it unacceptable that poor-fitting women’s dresses are the norm in the adult ice skating world.

I believe it is inappropriate that the industry standard is such that mature, adult figure skaters with womanly body curves are forced to accept dresses that are crafted using simple side-seam-only children’s patterns that do not allow for any natural female curves.

adult figure skating dress, ice dance dress at Adult Nationals 2019, bust supportWhile the oversized-child-pattern works well for straight, super-lean women who do not have breasts, bellies, or curvy hips, they are not suitable for the average woman skater with body curves.  Therefore, they are not suitable for many adult or teenage skaters.

June, our model in today's video, knows this and wisely creates her dresses to be most flattering for her body shape and size.

Yes, I know that saying adult skating dresses do not fit the women wearing them may upset some figure skaters, particularly the professional dressmakers who mass produce children’s costumes and sell them as women’s dresses.

I’m okay with that.  Sometimes in life we have to rock the boat in order to spur positive change.

I think it’s time adult women ice skaters have appropriate costumes that help them look and feel their best so they can perform their best. ...  After all, these ladies have a lot of time and money invested in their beloved sport.  Why should they be forced to settle for sub-par costumes?

Why doesn’t your ice skating dress look this good?


adult figure skating dresses, bust support, ice dance dress


(No, it has nothing to do with the fact that you may have a curvier body than these women have.  I'm talking about the design aspects and whether or not the dress flatters your body shape.)

Dresses in the upper levels of the ice skating world have changed significantly in the last twenty five years. 

  • Early trend-setters like Nancy Kerrigan (1994) were a big influence in costume improvements. .
  • Hollywood-style shows like Stars on Ice demanded fashion-conscious costumes.

Again, the mid-1990s were when the show dresses began the transformation from “classic” to trendy, sophisticated, high-fashion. (Coming soon: my extended interview with Olympic and World Champion pair skater, Elena Betchke, in which we talk about ice skating dresses over the decades.)

  • Olympic and world-level ice dancers further instilled the cool, sleek, look of competition dresses by utilizing ballroom design elements in their own skate costumes.
Don’t you think it’s time the dress quality and modern design styles of the Olympic and World skaters trickle down to local, competitive adult skaters?


When I first began filming these blogs at the 2019 Adult Nationals, I was hesitant to make comments on camera about how inappropriate I think the dresses are for mature women’s figures.

However, the more women (and men) I spoke with about the matter who agreed with me, the more confidence I gained in telling it like it is.

Now is the time to get this message out.  Now is the time for adult women skaters to have dresses that truly fit their curvy figures.


The image below is a perfect example of a beautifully-fitted, woman's figure skating dress.

It was made by Kelli Lynn: a dressmaker and competitive skater (who won her event at the 2019 A.N.)  She is also one of my Sew Like A Pro™ sewing school members.

She did an amazing job on this dress!  The three Bs (bust, belly and bum) fit wonderfully.  The sleeves and armpit areas look perfect. The design is sleek and modern.  She even snipped the the waistband on her tights so there is no crease at the waistline.

Thank you, Kelli Lynn!   I'm a proud sewing parent.

adult figure skating dress made by competitive skater and Sew Like A Pro™ member, Kelli Lynn Baker, bust support


What can you do to have properly fitting dresses?

#1) Request your dressmaker do the following: 

a) Use princess seams - or at the very least bust darts  - to create proper bust shape and support. (This will also help the sleeve/armhole area fit better.) 

b) Add bra cup shells or small padding for extra support. (Click here if you want to know more about choosing bra cups and padding.)

c) In addition, I suggest you request an asymmetrical skirt attachment which is more slimming than the classic “V” front and back which almost always makes your belly look larger and more round.

#2) Buy used dresses and alter them to better fit your body shape.

I offer several free blogs that discuss altering dance and skate dresses. You can find them under the “alterations” category here in the blog posts.

#3) Learn to make your own competition dresses.

In my Sew Like A Pro™ courses, I offer comprehensive training on how to:

  • design dresses for your body shape,
  • how to make custom patterns,
  • fit,
  • adjust,
  • finish
  • rhinestone competition-quality skating dresses.
  • and everything in between


If you know how to sew even a little bit, enrolling in my Sew Like A Pro™ courses is a worthwhile time and money investment. 

Leave your name and email address below to learn more about my sewing programs.

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Fair warning: if and when ice skating dressmakers begin to create dresses that truly fit women’s bodies, you can expect the costume costs to increase. 


Why will the cost of adult figure skating dresses increase?

You see, making costumes for adult figure skaters with nothing but side seams is fast and they can be mass produced in the typical small, medium, large sizes.  Those types of dresses are easy to sew and easy to rhinestone because there are no body curves. It’s two straight pieces of fabric: one piece for the front and one piece for the back (maybe two on the back if there is a center back seam.)

Creating women’s competition dresses with proper seaming and proper body shaping requires custom or semi-custom patterns plus actually fitting the dresses. Therefore, they take longer to make and cost more to produce. Despite this, the final product is well worth the extra work. You can check out my blog posts featuring Jannika Lilja and Tammy Jimenez, two dressmakers who make skate costumes.

If you know how to sew (whether you’re an accomplished seamstress, have never worked with stretch fabrics, or only know how to make the most basic of household items), enrolling in my Sew Like A Pro™ course is a worthwhile time and money investment if you plan to continue competitive skating. Click here for more information about my comprehensive sewing programs suitable for all levels of dressmakers.


June, our model for today’s video, clearly knows the money savings and the personal value of making her own ice dance dresses. In addition to creating a good leotard shape, she also has several other elements that are equally well done.

  1. She custom-dyed her mesh so it matches her skin tone beautifully. 
    • She said dying the mesh was the most difficult part of making this dress.
    • Since June’s flesh-color mesh is not very visible, the real dress is the focal point. During times when the mesh is not a good match for the woman’s skin tone, the mesh becomes an “accidental” part of the design because it is so obvious.  
    • (You can check out my blog about how to dye elastic flesh color. The same principles apply for dying nylon mesh.
  2. June used an Empire overdress style to create long, vertical lines that make her look taller.
    • While this look is not suitable for all routines, it is perfect for her European Waltz. I also saw several other dresses at A.N. that used the long, Empire lines.
  3. Mesh gathers go all the way around the ribcage to form gentle volume and help camouflage the stitch line from overdress.





Never Miss a Dress or Design Tip! Get the SLP™ newsletter and information about enrollment.

By signing up here, I am aware I will receive the weekly SLP™ newsletter. I am also aware I will receive two special training videos and information about enrolling in the sewing courses. (This series of marketing emails lasts about 2 weeks.) I can unsubscribe from either list at any time.



    4 replies to "Properly Made Ice Dance Dress Worn At Adult Nationals 2019"

    • Linnea Levine

      I do not sew. Can you refer me to one a seamstress who took your course and sews custom ice dance dresses?

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Hi Linnea. Thanks for your question. Yes, I can help you. I have several Sew Like A Pro™ dressmakers around the world.
        Where are you in the world? What type of dance-skate costume do you need? What is your desired date to wear the dress?
        Giving me more information helps me connect you with the right person.

        You can email me directly teresa@seamssensational.com

    • Mindy Jollie

      That’s interesting that Nancy Kerrigan was such a big influence for ice skating competition dresses and costumes. My daughter really wants to be a competitive ice skater, but she has an odd body type. We’ll probably have to get most of her dresses and leotards custom made to meet the different rules and requirements.

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Hey Mindy,
        Thanks for your comment. Yep, in my mind at least Nancy Kerrigan began the trends the elite skaters wear all the time now. (And I’m trying to get that fashion quality to be commonplace in amateur skaters… grr…) She marked the end of the classic Russian look that Tonya Harding wore the same year Nancy wore her memorable flesh color dress with a bazillion stones.

        When you get ready to have dresses made for your daughter, send me an email (teresa@seamssensational.com) or leave a comment like this one. I’ll contact you directly and refer you to some of my advanced Sew Like A Pro™ members who make dresses for dancers and skaters all over the world.

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