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Buying a bargain dancesport ballgown or skate dress can save you a lot of money. But it can also cause a lot of headaches since the dress may not not fit your body shape and size as well as a dress made specifically for you.

Such is the case with one of the Sew Like A Pro™ members Louise.

Louise found a super-priced bargain Dancesport ballgown that cost less than she would have spent to make it. She knew it would need altering, but how could she pass it up, right?

Dancesport ballgown redesign, original back. How to redesign a bargain dance dress
Original bargain dress.


Original bargain dress on a curvier woman.


In a recent live Q&A call that I host each month for the members, we discussed her bargain dance dress and brainstormed ideas on how to make it look more flattering on her curvy figure.

Louise is shorter and wider than the woman for whom the dress was originally made. Because of this, the diagonal design lines on the dress stretch out and become horizontal. Horizontal lines are often not the best look on full-figured women because it makes the body look wider.

So while Louise got a great price on this bargain dance dress, she’s got a few hours of sewing work ahead of her.

A bargain dance dress is no longer a good value if you have to put too much time or money into it to make it look or feel good.

With that in mind, I suggested fairly simple alterations that would not require any new fabrics or a lot of time.

Our mission: Eliminate or camouflage all horizontal lines in the back so she looks taller and slimmer.

  1. Do not wear the necklace.
    • Since she wears the dress for Standard dancing, the necklace shows little in front and makes an unattractive horizontal line on the back which  makes her look short.
  2. Remove the horizontal strap at the mid back.
    • Horizontal straps across the back are one of my pet peeves. They look good on almost no one! Also, most across-the-back straps would not be necessary if the dress was better made.
    • Luckily, Louise said she feels the dress will stay in place without the strap.
  3. Detach the drape on the left side and reattach it at a place so the drape once again hangs at a diagonal.
    • Louise knows she will need to fit this on her body to find the best place.
    • I told her the new placement will likely be lower and closer to the edge of the neckline.
  4. Continue the ruching that begins in the front and ends at the side seam.How to alter a bargain dance dress so it looks good on a full-figure woman. Dancesport gown
    • Having the abrupt stop on this bargain dance dress is annoying and visually unappealing – on any body shape and size.
    • Louise can create a prettier, more diagonal line by continuing the ruching onto the back.
    • I drew both straps going up. However, this is not the only option!  It would also be okay for the top line to continue diagonally down towards the skirt and the lower strap go up towards the neckline as drawn.


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