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A decade after it was made, this Smooth Dancesport ballgown is too beautiful to retire.  Plus, it is in near perfect condition so why would she sell it or leave it hanging in the closet unused when a few sewing alterations will give it a fresh look and feel?

Teresa Sigmon shares three sewing alterations to change and update this Dancesport ballgown with embroidered mesh lace.


Why does this Smooth dance style ballgown need a re-design?

  1. After ten years of wearing this dress, my client Marlaine’s fashion tastes and body shape had changed.
  2. Marlaine knew she was close to retiring from competitive ballroom dancing.  Therefore, she did not want to invest the time or money into having me make her a brand new competition dress.  However, she really wanted the look and feel of a new gown.

So what were our options? … Re-design the dance dress, of course!

Is your Dancesport gown, Ballroom dance, Latin dance, Country or skating dress too small? Get clever sewing alterations to make it work for your body shape.

Marlaine and I decided to create a fresh look with three semi-easy, (mostly) inexpensive steps.

  1. First, add sleeves to cover her upper arms.
  2. Update the skirt by adding volume and curve in the hem.
  3. Add decorative criss cross straps to create a more flattering back neckline.


 Sewing alteration #1: 


Sleeves make a big impact on a ballgown.  Since Marlaine’s current dress is sleeveless, we decided to radically change the look of the dress by adding sleeves made of the remaining embroidered mesh from the original dress.  Thank goodness I bought too much embroidered mesh fabric and did n’t use it for someone else!

Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #1:

It is always useful to keep all excess fabrics from the dresses you make.  If you have your dresses made by someone else, ask the sewist for the scrap fabrics they used on your dress.  Keep all the individual types of fabrics in clear plastic baggies.  Be sure to include a paper note which includes:

    1. The type of type of fabric inside the bag,
    2. How much fabric there is inside the bag,
    3. Where the fabric was purchased.
    4. The month and year the fabric was used to make the dress.

Since Marlaine’s alterations are not yet finished, you can see on Bree’s black dress what a change adding mesh sleeves can make!  Click here to check out the blog post featuring Bree’s dress.

Adding mesh sleeves to any style ballroom dance, artistic roller or figure skating dress can dramatically change the way the competition dress looks and feels... rhinestoned necklace, Smooth dance ballgown, Bree Blevins

If your dress does not have sleeves, adding them makes an older dress feel new — not to mention that sleeves cover the triceps which is one of those areas most older women want to hide.  Long sleeves of any type fabric can also work miracles to make arms look long and sleek.

Great fabrics for sleeves are anything that stretches: mesh, stretch lace, Lycra, stretch crepe, stretch velvet and more.  Be sure to watch the video about Stretch Fabric DOs and DON’Ts.

If your dress has sleeves, consider removing them or changing the style of the sleeve to re-design the look of your dance or skate dress.

Seriously.  The re-design principles in all my blog posts are suitable for every style of women’s dance and skate costumes! Dancesport gowns, Latin dance dresses, artistic roller skating dresses, and figure skating dresses.

Even all the fitting training I offer in my free blogs and in the new Fabulous Fitting Techniques course are perfectly suited all types of dance and skate costumes for women and teenagers.

Fabulous Fitting Techniques: an intensive 6-week course for those who sew ballroom dance and figure skating dresses for women and teenagers.

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American Smooth style dance dress needs sewing alterations to help it better fit the ballroom dancer.

 Sewing Alteration #2: 


When this Dancesport gown was made a decade ago, American Style Smooth skirts were stick-straight.  While this is still a trendy look in that style of dance, Marlaine and I decided to add some imitation volume to the skirt by putting crinoline  (aka horsehair braid in the USA) in the hem.

Creating gentle arcs at the bottom of the dress will give her a fresh look with minimal expense.  Crinoline curves in the skirt hem will also help compliment and offset her hips, rather than having her hips be the focal point because the skirt is straight.  Fun tip:  the wider the crinoline the larger the curl in the skirt.

A new hem treatment is often an easy sewing alteration that can create a giant change.  There are many ways you could update an old skirt.  You could even trim the skirt to convert the gown into a Latin dress!  Click here to see a blog where a Smooth ballgown I made was cut off to become a sexy Latin dress.

Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #2:

If you plan to change the existing hem treatment on your Dancesport gown, check the overall length to make sure it is even.  After years of hanging in the closet, fabrics often get longer in some areas.  Be sure to re-trim the skirt before you install any type of new hem treatment.


Big Impact sewing allterations include changing the back neckline by adding criss-cross straps to this Smooth dance Dancesport ballgown.

 Sewing Alteration #3: 


Marlaine's body shape changed since I made the dress over ten years ago.  As a result, her back is currently more exposed than what she would like.  Rather than cover her lovely skin, we plan to distract the viewer with some decorative criss cross straps.

Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #3:

How many criss cross straps do you count on the AFTER image you see above?  ... Yep.  There are two straps on the left side of the body and three straps on the right.

What?  How can this be?  The V shape looks perfectly balanced and centered!

The reason the asymmetrical straps look so perfect is because Marlaine has a significant case of scoliosis.  Look at the BEFORE photo and you will notice her spine and hips curve towards the right. 

So what this means is that when you are fitting or designing a dress for yourself or a client, you must do what is necessary, not what you think is correct or what sewing rules say you should do.


Watch the video for more details and a fun dress assessment.


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If you enjoyed this post on how to change a Dancesport gown, then check out my blog on 7 Ways to Update a Lace Dance Dress.

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