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A keyhole back is a common design for figure skating dresses.

keyhole back design ice dance dress, Alyssa, Tammy Jimenez, Ice Den Chandler

Why not?

They’re fast to open or close and eliminate the need for a full back zipper.


What makes today’s keyhole back extraordinary?  The openings create a beautiful design, not just a functional way to get in and out of the dress like many ice skating costumes.


This is the third blog in my series of six ice skating costumes made by Tammy Jimenez who makes dress for the students she coaches at Ice Den in Chandler, Arizona.

Today’s blog post features this burgundy tango dress for Alyssa, who started skating eleven years ago after “Santa Claus brought me skates when I was six years old.”



What Do I Like About Tammy’s Designs?

As a dress designer, Tammy Jimenez tries hard to fashion each of her figure skating costumes to match the skate routine and music. One dress she made was inspired by Morticia Addams. She even made a quick change costume for one skater to help the dress fit the music better! 

For Alyssa’s costume, Tammy did a great job creating this keyhole dress to go with Alyssa’s tango dance and music.

One of my favorite things about Tammy’s designs is that she either doesn’t use mesh, or she uses mesh as part of the design, not just to hold the dress in place.

For Alyssa’s keyhole dress, Tammy used burgundy mesh that matches the color of the lycra. Tammy also rhinestoned the mesh keyhole back to make it a gorgeous eye-catching design element. You can do this with a mesh back with a zipper too.

You may notice that a lot of ice skating dresses use flesh color mesh (especially for back designs) to hold the dress together.

In some cases, such as Italian ice dancer Anna Capellini’s ice dance dresses, the mesh matches the skin color so perfectly that you barely see it.  However, many times the flesh color mesh does not match the skin color perfectly, and detracts from the overall design of the dress.


mesh DOs and DON'Ts sweetheart neckline, keyhole back design blog



The Different Parts of Alyssa's Keyhole Dress


The Back

What makes today’s keyhole back extraordinary is that the openings create a beautiful design, not just a functional way to get in and out of the dress like many ice skating costumes.

In the image below, a rather boring, utilitarian, flesh mesh keyhole back is flanked by two unique and pretty keyhole designs.

three keyhole back design comparison, Alyssa, Tammy Jimenez, Ice Den Chandler


Rather than do a classic round or oval keyhole opening like the yellow dress in the middle of the image above, Tammy Jimenez created three lovely, oblong openings. 

She also did a fantastic job rhinestoning Alyssa's keyhole dress.  There are enough rhinestones to show up nicely on the ice, but not so many that it overpowers a young ice dancer.

She edged the keyhole back with two rows of light siam AB 30ss and two rows of crystal AB 30ss. 

The edge of the back neckline (where the lycra meets the mesh), was also rhinestoned creating a long line V effect in the back.  This long V is symmetrical on each side, which contrasts with the asymmetry of the front of the dress.

Snaps hold the keyhole back together.  At the top of the neck, there is an additional hook to hold it together more tightly.

Alyssa is a solo ice dancer.  She said the snaps have always stayed closed.  If she did partner ice dancing, I would recommend the back keyhole openings have hook and eyes instead of snaps.  The hook-and-eye combination is more secure and less likely to come unsnapped when her partner grabs her back.



Alyssa has beautiful body proportions with a narrow ribcage.  The angle of the back leotard neckline is perfect on her body shape because the low, wide, rounded V makes her ribcage look bigger.  A wider ribcage helps balance the width of her hips and shoulders.

If you are a woman who has narrow hips or shoulders and/or a large ribcage, I suggest you choose a back neckline that is several inches/centimeters higher and more narrow.  This shape will help minimize your ribcage so your hips are more of a focal point and therefore balance your larger ribcage.


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keyhole back design ice dance dress, Alyssa, Tammy Jimenez, Ice Den Chandler, full front

The Front

The burgundy mesh on the bodice covers what I assume is burgundy lycra underneath.  Tammy also used what is probably flesh color lycra underneath part of the burgundy mesh to help maintain a crisp, plunging, asymmetrical V. 

(In the video I said it was flesh color mesh, but after seeing the images, I believe it's lycra.  If Tammy had used a mesh insert, it would be more sheer and perhaps look like a better match even if it was the same color as the lycra.)



Would I like the mesh or lycra insert better if it matched Alyssa’s skin tone more closer?  Of course.  

When a flesh color fabric is used it should match the skin tone as closely as possible so it looks invisible and does not detract from the overall design.  Again, I reference Anna Cappellini’s ice dance costumes for this because her flesh color accents are as close to her flesh tone as possible.

If you need flesh color fabrics, you can dye them yourself. 

Follow the general guidelines in my blog post about dying elastic; the principles are the same for dying fabrics.

June ice dance dress, dye flesh mesh, adult figure skating dress, ice dance dress at Adult Nationals 2019



Check out this blog post featuring June, an ice dancer who makes her own dresses and dyes the mesh to match her skin tone.


Lastly, you can also purchase mesh or lycra from either of these companies.  They carry several shades in each fabric.

SpandexHouse in New York City, USA

Crystal Clover in Canada

Chrisanne Clover in England

Edda-Hsu in Germany

Dance Fabrics Direct in New Zealand


I love the asymmetrical neckline of Alyssa’s keyhole dress. 

keyhole back design ice dance dress, Alyssa, Tammy Jimenez, Ice Den Chandler,


This is also her favorite design element.  Tammy, the dressmaker, used two different details to make the neckline asymmetrical.

1. The neckline comes to a high point on one side.  The other side of the neckline is rounded and shorter.

2. The plunging mesh V has an asymmetrical slant that goes towards the front of the hip instead of straight down towards the belly button.

The diagonal mesh line is very slimming, and also adds height.

Alyssa is already tall, so she doesn’t need the look of additional height. 

However, if she ever wants to sell this dress, the plunging diagonal line means this keyhole dress will look good on multiple body shapes: It can make a short woman look taller and make a heavy-set woman look slimmer.  Therefore, when Alyssa is ready to sell the dress, she has a wider buying audience.



Why does this diagonal mesh line make a heavier woman look slimmer?  Two reasons:

  1. The plunging diagonal “V” goes from wider at the top near the bust to more narrow at the bottom.  This automatically gives a slimming illusion in the tummy and hip areas which are often a woman’s heaviest, curviest body parts.
  2. The same asymmetrical line flows towards the front of the thigh.  This draws attention away from the roundness of the tummy and the width of the hips.

Additional note from Teresa Sigmon:   I have narrow hips (compared to a large ribcage).  The front of my thighs are muscular and curve out below my pelvis.  Because of this, my figure would look better if the asymmetrical V line went more towards the side of my hips to draw attention away from the roundness of my upper thigh.


keyhole back design ice dance dress, Alyssa, Tammy Jimenez, Ice Den Chandler, crop side


The Skirt

Tammy did a beautiful job with the skirt. 

The diagonal cut adds more asymmetry to the keyhole dress and further compliments the design lines on the bodice.  The skirt is longer than many skating skirts so it has a mature look well suited for tango.

Alyssa’s skirt is average skate skirt fullness.  Tammy Jimenez used about a half circle in the front and a half circle in back.  The slit in one side allows the skirt to flow better.

On the right side of the ice skating costume, Tammy continued the rhinestones into the skirt.  Not only is this a fabulous look, but the weight of the rhinestones creates extra skirt movement.





What is your favorite part of this ice dance dress?   Keyhole back?  Rhinestoning?  Asymmetrical front?
Type your tips or troubles below.


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





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See more of Tammy Jimenez's dresses.

crisscross dress ice skating costume, video


My favorite features about Jaclyn's black figure skating costume are the rhinestoning colors plus the decorative crisscross straps that are the focal point of the back.  Check it out here!



quick change ice skating costume, Tammy Jimenez dressmaker, Hairspray the musical, Tracy Turnblad



Tammy Jimenez, created an amazing quick change costume for Gianna!  You don't want to miss this Tracy Turnblad inspired costume.



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