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In the world of Dancesport dress consignment, Latin dance skirt alterations are commonplace. When you buy a used dance dress, it is rare to find a perfect fit.  Oftentimes, some part of the ballroom dancing costume needs revisions before it is ready for the dance floor.

It can be easy to fix a Latin dance skirt that is too large or too long; you can take in the skirt or trim it to the length you want.

But how do you fix a short, tight Latin dance skirt that has too little fabric instead of too much?  Skirt alterations of this nature require creativity and good problem-solving skills, but they can be done with figure flattering results!

Latin dance skirt alterations, Duffy Betterton Dance Dress Couture, front-back view

Today’s post features Duffy Betterton, the co-owner of Dance Dress Couture, a ballroom dance dress consignment shop.  Duffy consigns Dancesport and Country dance costumes for women of all shapes and sizes.  She often alters the dresses she consigns to fit her clients better.  

One of the dresses in the Dance Dress Couture inventory is the Latin dance dress featured in today’s blog.  Duffy plans to wear it when she competes at her next Country competition.

It has a very short, tight skirt that hugs her tummy too much and rides up when she walks, let alone dances.  She asked me for ideas on how she can do skirt alterations to extend or loosen the skirt.  I came up with several fun skirt alteration options.

Let’s dive in with alterations to make this skirt flatter her lovely figure.

Latin dance skirt alterations, Duffy Betterton Dance Dress Couture

 1. Latin dance skirt alterations: too tight. 

When Duffy turns sideways, you can see the skirt is too snug over her tummy.  Unfortunately, this highlights an area many women do not want to emphasize.  

Sometimes gathers (aka “ruching”) are figure-flattering.  On Duffy’s competition Country dance dress, they are not.

Let’s correct that, shall we?

Ruching that helps camouflage a round tummy is usually placed higher on the tummy: either right on it or slightly above the main part of the belly curve.  Unfortunately, on Duffy’s Latin-dance inspired skirt, the gathers fall directly below her tummy curve which draws the viewer’s eye right to her belly.  What woman wants that?


What would further help the matte lycra skirt look and fit better is for the skirt to be loose enough that it flatters her figure.

Instead of letting the skirt hang off of the tummy, the gathers pull the fabric taut over the stomach.

Fortunately, the skirt alterations required to help deemphasize Duffy’s belly curve are easy.  She simply needs to raise the skirt to bring a wider part of the skirt up closer to where the skirt attaches to the leotard.  Raising the skirt like this loosens the stretch fabric so it hangs straight off of her tummy, thereby making it look flatter.  Raising the skirt will also raise the ruching to a more figure-flattering position.

Tummies are a big deal in ballroom dancing costumes!  Check out my other blog for more tips to make your your belly curve look flatter.

Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #1: 
  1. Remove the bottom lace appliqués and any rhinestones that are in the way.
  2. In the stomach area, remove the stitching holding the skirt fabric to the leotard.
  3. Pull the skirt up as much as necessary to reduce the tightness around the belly curve.
  4. Fold the excess skirt fabric down to create what is a really large seam allowance or more ruching.  Pin in place.
  5. Try the dress on again.  Adjust the skirt attachment if needed.
  6. Re-stitch the skirt to the leotard.  Re-apply all lace and rhinestones.


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.Latin dance skirt alterations are required for a tight skirt that rides up, Duffy Betterton Dance Dress

 2. Latin dance skirt alterations: too short. 


This Latin dance dress is too short in the back for many mature women to feel confident wearing it. 

With all the time and money Dancesport and Country dancers invest getting ready for a competition, they want the best fitting costume possible.

In addition to being a bit short in the back, the lightweight lycra skirt is also too tight.  It slides up as Duffy moves - even if she only takes a few steps.  When dancing, the skirt gets shorter and shorter because the tight fabric creeps up to the smaller area of her upper hips.


A skirt alteration solution for many short skirts that want to ride up is to weigh the skirt down with beaded or chainette fringe, rhinestones or other other heavy decorative items.  This extra weight often helps a loose-fitting Latin dance skirt stay down.  However, since Duffy’s skirt it too tight, weighting the skirt will have little effect on keeping the stretchy skirt down.

Duffy wants to fix the skirt so it at least covers her thighs, but there is a not-so-slight problem;  She doesn’t have any extra fabric that matches the skirt.

How do you perform skirt alterations to lengthen a skirt when you have no extra fabric?

You get creative!

Lucky for Duffy, I began making Dancesport, Country and Skate dresses in the early 1990s.  When she asked me for solutions, I immediately came up with the idea of creating a multi-colored, textured skirt using the unusual color combination on the bodice. 

With this in mind, Duffy has two main options for skirt alterations:

Latin dance skirt alterations, Teresa Sigmon, Duffy Betterton Dance Dress Couture

1. Take fabric from the front of the skirt and add it to the back.

The right front of the skirt is already super short - especially after we raise the front to help camouflage the tummy.  

However, there is a large triangle of fabric that creates a long length in the front.  If necessary, we can steal a tiny bit off the bottom and add it to the back.  Adding to the back will help create a more cohesive design between the length of the front and back — and it will help cover the back of Duffy’s thighs.


2. Add several colors of flames, flags or spirals to the skirt of the skirt.

Duffy can use all the different bodice colors, and layer the different-colored flames or spirals. Once again, Duffy has a few different option for adding flames, flags, or spirals.

1) She can add flames, flags, or spirals only to the back of the skirt.  I may create an imbalanced design.  I only recommend it if you are very short on time and fabrics.

2) Adding the flames to both the front and back of the skirt to make the design look more intentional.

3) She could first take some of the front skirt fabric and add it to the back, then add the flames after the skirt is evened out. This design option would be the most time and work, but it would look the most consistent and intentional.

Add spirals, flags, flames, and handkerchiefs to ballroom dance, artistic roller and figure skating dresses is perfect for creating skirt volume without bulky fabrics.

The image above contains several clever ways to use a variety of fabrics to create a textured, layered look on all types of Dancesport, Country and skate dresses.  Creativity is your only limitation!

I love this skirt treatment SEW much, it is one of the three types of skirts I teach in the Complete Latin-Skate Program in my online sewing school.


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 Why not add fringe to the skirt? 

As  I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, adding beaded or chainette fringe is an attractive, practical way to help weight loose-fitting skirts that are too lightweight to stay down.  In today’s video, I suggest not adding fringe to Duffy’s skirt.  Why not?

Primary physical reason to not have fringe: 

As I said earlier, Duffy’s skirt is too tight for the weight of fringe to help hold it down.  We have to allow the skirt fabric to ride up and create longer skirt options to cover her thighs.

Did you think, “What about adding beaded fringe to the skirt?”  

You can.  It is absolutely possible.  Many dressmakers, including myself, have done it thousands of times.  The down side is that beaded fringe on the skirt doesn’t last long with all the fast hip action and spins.  The threads break and the glass beads create a hazard all over the dance floor.  

If longevity in a Dancesport or Country dance costume is your goal, avoid beaded fringe all together, especially on the skirt.

Guipure lace beaded fringe closeup, Latin dance skirt alterations, Duffy Betterton Dance Dress Couture


Primary design reason not to have fringe: 

This mint color Latin dance dress already had beaded fringe on the leotard.  Oftentimes, chainette fringe and beaded fringe don't look good together on the same ballroom dancing costume.  Unless you are an experienced designer and can pull it off cleverly, I suggest keeping it simple and avoid mixing the two types of fringes.

There are a few broken beaded fringe strands on Duffy’s costume right now.  It is inevitable the beads will continue breaking. 

Once Duffy reaches the tipping point where there are too many broken beads - or she’s tired of replacing them - she can cut all the rest of the beaded strands off and have a “new” bodice.

Because Duffy's skirt alterations to lengthen the skirt will add a lot more skirt movement than she currently has, there is no need for the beaded fringe movement on the bodice.

P.S.  If you're in the market to buy or sell your competition Dancesport or Country costumes, visit Duffy's fabulous consignment shop called Dance Dress Couture!



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If you want to know more about Duffy Betterton and her ballroom dress consignment store, please check out an earlier blog featuring both Duffy and me modeling dresses in her inventory!

Ballroom dance dress consignment shop Duffy Betterton Teresa Sigmon

P.S.  Pay close attention to the details about the Ballroom Box which is a quarterly shipment with an assortment of fantastic dance supplies.

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