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Today’s post features an eighteen year-old ballroom dance dress that has stood the test of time and is in great condition.

Betty, the owner of this sassy black and magenta dress, purchased it online as her first-ever competition dress. She hasn’t worn it in almost ten years because it doesn’t feel comfortable to wear. She says her least favorite thing about the dress is that it feels too low on the bust, like it presses her breasts flat.

I can remedy that!  Or rather I can tell Betty (and you) how to do it.



Betty and Teresa Sigmon at U Can Dance Studio in St. Louis, Missouri, lengthen leotard for a better bra cup fit



This was a fun video for me to film because Betty knows how to sew and can do her own alterations.

You know that gets me excited!

This spunky lady and I met only minutes before filming. One of her fellow dancers talked her into modeling for the video.


What Betty didn’t know was that I would give her solid advice about how to fix the parts of the dress that don’t fit well so she could feel comfortable wearing it again.

Shoot, I didn’t even know I was going to do that. Once the camera is on, I get in the zone and words pop out of my mouth without me thinking about them.

Going with the flow or not, this alterations advice is the same stuff I’d tell my own dress clients and my Sew Like A Pro™ members.

Scroll below and watch the video for detailed alterations advice on how to lengthen the leotard so it feels better and offers better bust support.



How did I run into Betty? While traveling across the country this summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Betty and several other students at U Can Dance Studio in St. Louis, Missouri.

Thanks to Stan and Mary Collins for letting me film in their dance space while they were at the doctor’s office for a final checkup before delivering a health baby boy. Congratulations to the proud parents and smiling baby!




Ready-made (also called “off-the-rack”) dresses always have fitting troubles because they were not specifically made to fit the buyer’s body.

Today’s focus dress was made by Lyn Wallander, almost twenty years ago. It was very well constructed. Even the fabric still looks beautiful with very few snags. The stretch capacity of the fabric is also in good shape. Betty could sell the dress – or do the alterations I suggest and wear it again.


Betty and Teresa Sigmon in St. Louis hero pic, lengthen leotard for a better bra fit


What are my favorite design elements?

Overall, I really like the contrasts and asymmetry in this dress.

#1 I love the piping around the bottom of the sleeves and the skirt because it adds a strong pop of color without making Betty look shorter. (Goodness knows she and I are not tall women.)

#2 The accent color is a bright, clear blue-tone magenta. For my palette, I prefer this over an orange-tone magenta.

#3 I love asymmetrical designs.

If you have followed me for a while, you know I’m a fan of asymmetrical designs because they cover a multitude of human anatomy irregularities.

TIP: Asymmetrical designs or offset focal points are perfect for drawing the viewer’s eye away from a body part you don’t want them to look at.

If you have an area you’re trying to hide, using an asymmetrical cut or color pattern can do the trick!



What are my least favorite things about this dress?

#1 I would love to see a more closed back so it’s better suited to Betty’s body shape. (I cover this in part two in this series.)

#2 It would be nice if the skirt attached higher on her belly so it is more flattering. (This is also addressed in video two.)

#3 The fact that the leotard is too short and pulls down on Betty’s chest…. That we talk about in this video.


The bust on this dress is uncomfortable, and is Betty’s least favorite feature about the dress. This is fairly easy to fix. The leotard is too short, so it pulls down on Betty’s chest. When the leotard is longer, the dress will sit higher on her chest.

If the bust is still uncomfortable after the leotard has shifted up, Betty can take out the bra cups and tack in a more comfortable bra, cutting it off at the sides since the back is too open to hide the back of the bra.


Please note: because the leotard is not long enough to cover Betty’s bum, she needs to cut away the existing panty and add an entirely new one.

Conversely, if you need to lengthen the leotard and your tush is mostly covered, you may add a few inches or centimeters to lengthen the stride without having to replace the entire trunks.







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