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Christina Musser, head instructor at Spotlight Ballroom, wears a Latin dance dress, consistent dress design made by Teresa Sigmon


When designing your Dancesport costume, do you struggle to create a consistent dress design that is still interesting?

Combining consistency and contrast can be difficult, but today’s ballroom dancing dress has both.

Dramatic points punctuate the entire dress for a consistent theme while high contrast in fabrics and shine provide focal points.

Of all the ballroom dresses I made, this is definitely one of my favorites because it’s cool, sexy, elegant and has a consistent dress design.

What makes this dance dress even more fascinating is that it began as a Smooth ballgown, and thanks to the magic of scissors, became a Latin dance dress.  Read on for more design details and dressmaker tips!



 Before and After: From a Smooth Ballgown to a Latin dress 


pink smooth ballgown with consistent design, Christina Musser, head instructor at Spotlight Ballroom

I made the fuchsia Dancesport dress in 2006 for an amateur competitor in San Francisco.

Christina purchased this sleek, sexy ballgown after it had been worn only a few times.  Her plan was to wear the Smooth dress for Pro-am routines at her dance studio, Spotlight Ballroom in West Sacramento, California.

However, after buying the ballgown, she grew frustrated with the length of the skirt because she kept getting her shoe heel stuck in the stretchy crepe fabric.

What’s the solution to save a beautiful dress?

One of Christina’s students suggested she cut the ballgown-length skirt off. 

christina musser fuchsia latin action shot at Spotlight Ballroom, West Sacramento California

What?  That’s sacrilege!

Nope.  It’s a wise move.

Christina hired a local dressmaker to cut the skirt thereby converting the ballgown into a Latin dress. 

Not only did this solve the problem, but she got a completely different look for very little money!  Christina has been wearing it ever since, and says it is still her favorite dance dress…which is saying a lot, because she has some really beautiful dresses. Click here to see my blog featuring Christina in a royal blue charmeuse ballgown.


Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #1 

After Christina’s struggle with getting her shoe heels stuck in the ballgown skirt, I began adding a non-stretch underskirt to the gowns I made.  

Why is this beneficial? 

The shoe heel is more likely to slide off a woven or non-stretch fabric (chiffon, georgette, charmeuse, etc), instead of getting stuck like often happens with stretchy fabrics.

I talk about this more in detail in my dress breakdown of another dress I made.



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 How to Create a Consistent Dress Design

Christina's Latin dress has a consistent design, meaning that certain design elements are repeated throughout the dress. 

For example, this dress has several steep diagonal lines and accent pieces of fabric that hang down and come to a point.  These design elements are repeated four different places on the dress.


raglan sleeve with accent V opening to add to consistent design of Latin dance dress

1. The sleeve

The sleeve is a raglan sleeve with a dramatic V opening at the bottom to continue our theme of Vs and points. 

This simple-to-make opening is a slit up the middle with bias tape bands holding it together at the width you prefer.  It is the only time I made a sleeve of this design.  At the end of the sleeve, the fabric is cut to hang in a point.


stretch crepe ChrisAnne Clover, stretch mesh, rhinestones and jewels on Latin dance costume

2. The front

The rhinestoned accent area on the front is set at a steep diagonal angle. Where the accent ends, I made a dangling strip of fabric set along the diagonal line from the shoulder to the hip. The dangling fabric comes to a point similar to the end of the sleeve.



stretch dance crepe, raglan sleeve, points on consistent design Latin dance dress



3.  The back design

This back design looks fabulous on Christina! 

It accents her lovely figure, but still continues a long design line with another dangling strip of fabric that mimics the front design.

The repeating design elements create a consistent dress design.  Therefore, the dress flows together well and each design element complements the overall design. 

Click here to see another example of a consistent dress design on a skate dress.



many points create consistent design, Dancesport costume worn by Christina Musser, Spotlight Ballroom

4. The skirt

The rhinestoned mesh area on the front is framed by the steep diagonal angle of the dress.  Where the mesh accent ends, I made a dangling strip of fabric set along the diagonal line from the shoulder to the hip . The dangling fabric comes to a point similar to the end of the sleeve.


Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #2

Some stretch crepe fabrics do not fray.  Therefore, you can skip doing a rolled edge hem if you like an unfinished look. Simply use a rotary cutter to cut a straight or curved line, and that's it.  Your skirt will look  great with minimal effort!




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 How to Create a Contrasting Dress Design

This stretch crepe Latin dance costume has an intentional, consistent dress design.  But I also made her dress to have a lot of contrasts for interest.  The rhinestoned area on the left side of the dress creates contrast three different ways.


1. Matte vs. shine

Most of Christina’s Dancesport dress is a matte stretch crepe from Chrisanne.  The right side of the bodice is undecorated and not shiny, while the left is heavily rhinestoned and very sparkly.  The transition from the matte (not shiny) crepe to the shiny rhinestoned area creates a strong contrast.

Christina Musser, dance instructor at Spotlight Ballroom, wears a consistent design Latin dance dress made of stretch crepe and mesh


2. Smooth vs. textured

Texture is another way to create contrast in your ballroom, Country and skate dress.  The matte stretch crepe is smooth, while the stretch mesh rhinestones are textured.  Contrast in texture adds depth to the dress design.


3. Crepe vs. mesh

Lastly, I created contrast by using different stretch fabrics. 

Instead of applying the rhinestones over the matte stretch crepe, I used mesh under the rhinestones for a sheer look.  To learn more about creating a contrast with different fabrics, go to my blog on stretch fabric DOs and DON'Ts.



line stretch mesh with flesh color lycra so rhinestone glue sticks to fabric better, invisible zipper, bra cups

Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #3

As a dressmaker and a retired competitor who wore ballroom dance costumes like this, I prefer to line mesh accent areas with flesh color lycra when there are a lot of rhinestones.   

  1. Lining the mesh gives the rhinestone glue more fabric to adhere.   
  2. Without a lining, the glue often oozes through the holes in the mesh and makes the fabric scratchy and uncomfortable.
  3.  Click here to learn more about rhinestone glues.






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