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This stunning purple black ice skating costume has a fabulous skirt detail, matching trunks, dramatic rhinestoning and seamless mesh sleeves.   We will talk about all that in today’s post.

seamless mesh sleeves Monica ice skater costume Brad Griffies posed front, action back


This is a great dress on figure skater Monica, whom I had the privilege of meeting during the 2019 Adult Figure Skating Championships in Utah.

Monica said this was her first competition after a twenty-year break.  She felt good about the competition and was excited to place second in her Master’s Junior-Senior category wearing a custom-made Brad Griffies costume.

(If I remember correctly from our off-camera conversation, Monica said the dress cost about $1000, U.S. dollars.)


A fun fact. 

Turns out Monica has been following me and Sew Like A Pro™ on Youtube for quite sometime now.  You can see at the end of the video below when Monica surprised me by saying this on camera.

Create Your Own Diamond Rhinestone Pattern, adult figure skating, U.S. adult nationals

She said that she loves to rhinestone and decorates her costumes.  She said she wants to enroll in my online sewing school sometime soon so she can learn to make the dresses also. 

Of course, I got teary-eyed!  Isn’t that what tired females do? 

And truthfully, I’m not quite used to meeting people who have seen me on YouTube.  It’s a surreal experience.  Now I know how movie actresses must feel 🙂

So anyway… back to Monica and her love of decorating ice skating costumes.  Check out her other dress which has a stunning diamond rhinestoning pattern she did herself.


There are several things I love about Monica’s purple and black ice skater costume. 

But …..

What’s the one thing I wish was better?
The Full Back Zipper

With the high collar and seamless mesh sleeves keeping her all covered up, the zipper gives Monica a way to get in and out of the dress.

Brad Griffies did a wonderful job camouflaging the zipper by adding rows of rhinestones so the zipper looks like another row of bling instead of an opening.

However, you may notice that the leotard bunches up between where the skirt attaches and the wide rhinestone border begins.  Also notice how the zipper buckles in several places. 

seamless mesh sleeves Monica figure skating dress Brad Griffies bad back zipper

A buckling zipper is a common problem with full back zippers because there are several curves in the spine — also because the zipper does not stretch and the mesh stretches a lot.  That is like mixing oil and vinegar.


There are tricks to setting in zippers, especially full back ones like on Monica’s skating dress.  I offer full training in my online sewing school

The main tips I can offer without several videos dedicated specifically to this topic (which is in my sewing school) is that you cannot simply install a non-stretch zipper into a stretchy fabric as if you were setting them zipper into a cotton summer dress.

1) You must fit the dress to the body as closely as possibly in both the zipper area and the trunks.

2) As you install the zipper you must stretch the zipper and ease the fabrics in curved areas, or where the zipper wants to bulge like Monica’s. 

3) You may have to rip and repeat all or part of the installation several times.

Look below at this impeccable full-back zipper installation by one of my Sew Like A Pro™ members, Sherri Hansen. 

When you look at the side view, it hugs the body perfectly so that you cannot even tell there is a zipper all the way up the back.  On this particular dress, the center back zipper has a similar feel and appeal as a vertical seam up the back of your sheerest thigh high stockings.  Sexy and eye-catching.


mesh sleeves leotard full back zipper ballroom dancing costume

P.S.  Are you wondering why there are shoulder seams instead of a seamless mesh sleeve like Monica’s  (and like I teach in the Sew Like A Pro™ courses) ? …. Good catch!

On this design, Sherri did not want side seams to take away from the sheer look and the lace pattern.  Therefore, dressmaking physics required that she inset the sleeves with a normal shoulder seam instead of doing a no-shoulder-seam sleeve insert.

Click here to watch the video or read the blog featuring this black ballgown.

Visit the sewing programs page if you would like more information about my online sewing school. 

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My three favorite design elements on Monica’s figure skating dress

Skirt and matching trunks.   Rhinestoning color and pattern.  Seamless mesh sleevesLet's talk about all these of these in detail.


1. The Skirt and Trunks

seamless mesh sleeves Monica ice skater costume Brad Griffies matching leotard trunks

The skirt is two layers of mesh.  The top layer is black. The underskirt is purple.

The purple underskirt  matches the color of the trunks underneath.

Ladies, this is an important factor for figure skating costumes. 

When the trunks do not match the underskirt, it makes your bum highly visible.  Whereas if the trunks and underskirt are the same color, the look is continuous from skirt to trunks which makes your bum less eye-catching.

One problem Monica has had with skate dresses in the past is that many dresses do not cover her rear well. 

She has a rounded bottom (which is a good thing).  Round bums can make it difficult to find street clothes and figure skating costumes that fit well.  She loves that Brad Griffies made the skating leotard fits her rear very well, making her more comfortable in this costume.

seamless mesh sleeves Monica ice skater costume Brad Griffies overlap slit in skating skirt




Monica’s skirt is actually two separate pieces: one for the front and one for the back.  The two halves overlap about 2 in/5 cm at the side seam.

The slit allows more skirt movement without extra skirt volume.  Also, this side opening allows for more of the purple  underskirt to show.

I think this is a great little detail.


seamless mesh sleeves Monica ice skater costume Brad Griffies back view action


I’m not usually a fan of the classic circle skirts with V attachment front and back.  I tend to like the “high-fashion” skate skirts that are more than just the usual circles and attach to the leotard an angles.

While this skirt is mostly a classic skirt, the accent on the right side is a fun feature that provides drama and movement.  I like that a lot.

While the skirt accents are not constructed like handkerchiefs, the look and extra movement is that of handkerchiefs.  This is very easy to make, but you do have to plan ahead because it changes how you cut the circle of the skirt.


2. Linear Rhinestone Pattern with Tiny Baguettes

Monica gave Brad Griffies her music and said make whatever you want as long as it’s dark.  Lucky for her, black and purple are two of her favorite colors.  She loves the dress and the high impact rhinestoning pattern!

The combination of full-coverage seamless mesh sleeves and the graphic, linear rhinestoning pattern accentuate Monica’s figure. The lines branching out over the shoulders, combined with the sleek look of the mesh sleeves, emphasize Monica’s broad shoulders and makes her waist look smaller.

Details like this are why designing a dress to be the most flattering for a woman's body shape and size can be tricky.

seamless mesh sleeves Monica figure skating dress Brad Griffies blue-purple front comparison)

Brad used heliotropes on Monica’s dress black and purple dress.  This is one of my favorite rhinestone colors.  Depending on which way the light angle shines on them, they can be grayish or red-violet. 


Heliotropes also vary in color depending on which company makes them.  The Austrian Swarovski stones tend to be the purist red-violet heliotrope color.  Preciosa stones made in Czechoslovakia tend to have more of a gray tint. 

Choose the color that best suits your costume design.  In this image, I used a combination of both Swarovski and Preciosa stones in a wide variety of sizes.  Can you tell the difference in the stone colors?

heliotrope rhinestones amateur ballroom dancing


3. The Seamless Mesh Sleeves

One of the best features of Monica’s skate dress is the seamless mesh sleeves.

Many ice skating dresses have shoulder seams where the sleeves attach to the mesh on the bodice. Instead, Brad did what I teach in my sewing school, and crafted the mesh so that there is no seam around the shoulder.

Notice how close-fitting the sleeve is in the armpit? 

This is the way sleeves are supposed to fit on figure skating costumes.  Thank you Brad Griffies for doing a beautiful job fitting these sleeves!

Commonly I see costumes with sleeves cut from a street pattern.  Because the sleeve is not cut to be able to raise the arm overhead, the skater can’t move well, or if she does, the entire costume pulls up.

Sleeves cut from a street pattern can be altered by adding a gusset.  Not being able to raise your arms comfortably is an important detail to consider when buying a dress.

Gosh, I’m gonna risk sounding like a broken record and say yet again that if you enroll in my online sewing school I will teach you how to make proper leotard and sleeve patterns plus do the fittings so you can have amazing, competition-quality ice skating costumes.

But really now, do you want to be able to make really awesome costumes or not?

On the bright side, you're reading this blog post and getting free dressmaker tips here and in my videos.  That's a solid start towards having better costume-making skills.  Well done.  I'll keep dishing out the training as long as you are here with me.


Leave a comment below after you watch the video.

As always, please share this post with all your dancing, skating, sewing friends!


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    1 Response to "Figure Skating Dress With Seamless Mesh Sleeves"

    • Catrina Louw

      Hi I would have loved to do your class but the Rand of South Africa makes it impossible. I do sew and have for years and wonder it the seamless mesh long sleeves is cut as one peace. I do think you have a wonderful program.

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