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Today’s post features an ice skating costume with sponge-painted details, an asymmetrical skirt and an open back with no mesh.


open back ice skating costume, 2019 adult nationals


I met Stephanie at the 2019 Adult National Figure Skating Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is an experienced competitor who has been figure skating for nine years. Her white and gray dress was custom made by her coach’s wife Christi Sturgeon of the Utah Figure Skating Club.

When deciding what design she wanted Christi to make, Stephanie knew she wanted a dress that would go with her music, which is about meeting her daughter in the heaven. She wanted a dress that felt “like clouds and heaven.”

The result is this elegant ice skating dress with a wide open back. Stephanie wore it during her recent A.N. competition and won first place.


For me, the most important feature on Stephanie’s dress is the open back with no mesh.


open back ice skating costume, 2019 adult nationals



Occasionally, I see an ice skating costume or a Dancesport dress with a well-fitted, flesh-color mesh back that looks amazing. Usually these flesh-mesh backs look good because:

  1. the mesh is a nice match for the skin tone.
  2. the mesh has rhinestones or lace that give the mesh a reason for being there.
  3. In other words, the mesh becomes part of the design, not a reason to hold the dress together. 

Stephanie’s open back dress enhances the design of the dress and allows her lovely skin to shine. Open back ice skating dresses can look sexy or elegant depending on the dress design and chosen music.

Open back dresses require proper seaming and fitting. In a previous blog post, I interviewed another skater at Adult Nationals who wore a lovely, well-made dress. Check out this post featuring June, an ice dancer who makes her own competition dresses.


open back ice skating costume, 2019 adult nationals, front back necklines



During our pre-interview, Stephanie mentioned that when she first wore the dress, she felt like the sleeves may fall off her shoulders. 

Christi, the dressmaker, added a flesh-color elastic strap across the back to help Stephanie feel more comfortable with the open back.

Truthfully though, the elastic strap was not necessary.

The primary construction element that stops the sleeves from falling off her shoulders is the high boat neck. 
If the neck were lower, or if it was a V-neck, the sleeves would be more likely to fall off during a performance.

Perhaps the dressmaker did not explain why the sleeves would not fall off, or maybe Stephanie wanted the elastic "just to be sure". Either way, the strap was added.

In this case, it was added in the best possible place. Thank goodness! Badly placed elastic straps are a pet peeve of mine.

The problem with open back is that most skaters and dancers do not feel comfortable with no back support, and therefore no bust support. 

Unfortunately, most dancers and skaters fix the problem with an ugly, ill-placed band that cuts off the beautiful shape of the open back and makes a stark line across the skin like a bra strap does. 

Lucky for Stephanie, her dressmaker attached the elastic strap high on the shoulders where it doesn’t interfere with the look of the open back. In fact, it’s hardly noticeable when she performs.

If you want more ideas on ways to create pretty, functional straps for your Country dance, Ballroom dance, roller skating or ice skating costume, check out these two blogs:







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There are a few other features of Stephanie’s figure skating dress that I think are worth pointing out.


1. Hand-painted accents.

Stephanie’s dress appears to be the palest shades of pink.  Christi, the dressmaker, used a sponge to paint mottled clouds all over the dress in a cool, asymmetrical pattern.


This technique is easy and effective for creating a variety of looks. If you’re considering doing this, be sure to line your dress form with plastic so it doesn’t ruin your form. Or, hand paint with the dress stretched over a cardboard box and remove the dress before the paint completely dries so the paint doesn’t stick to the cardboard.


2. Rhinestoning.

Instead of the rhinestones being evenly distributed over the mesh, they are more concentrated on one side of the dress, rising from the waist and wrapping over the shoulder. The asymmetry offsets the gray sponge painting and makes the dress look more unique. The rhinestones continue in a long line down the mesh sleeve, making Stephanie’s arm look very long and elegant.


open back figure skating dress, 2019 adult nationals, angled ice skating skirt3. Asymmetrical skirt.

I really like Stephanie’s skirt. It is a double layer of mesh: white mesh over a layer of peach mesh. This color overlay makes the dress look like a pale pink, but adds depth and a pop of peach color when the underskirt or trunks show.

From the front, it looks like a classic ice skating skirt made of maybe a quarter of a circle.

The back is more interesting. It angles down to the back of her right leg before cutting back up. It appears to be about half a circle which is enough volume to look great when gliding or spinning.


 open back ice skating costume, 2019 adult nationals, skirt matches trunks

It is important to note that Stephanie’s undershorts match the bottom layer of mesh in the skirt. When you are skating, the skirts fly up due to the high speeds, exposing the leotard trunks. The costume looks much better when the shorts and skirt are the same color.












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    2 replies to "Open Back Ice Skating Costume"

    • Olivia

      Hi Teresa!
      I love the hand-painted details on this dress, it’s gorgeous! Do you know what type of paint you would use to paint on stretch fabrics? I’m guessing regular old fabric paints would crack.
      Thank you!

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Great Q, Olivia!
        Any type of fabric paint would work fine. Fabric paints are specifically designed to be flexible when applied to fabric.

        You can also use regular acrylic paint that fine artists use, but you must add TEXTILE MEDIUM to the acrylic paint to make it soft and flexible like a fabric paint.

        You can also use TEXTILE MEDIUM to “water down” a dark color to make it a lighter shade. A perfect example if the gray on Stephanie’s dress. If all you can find is a dark gray fabric paint, you can dilute the color with the TEXTILE MEDIUM. 🙂

        I hope this helps.

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