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An invisible zipper is well-hidden on this velvet red figure skating dress.

An invisible zipper is one of my favorite ways for getting in and out of a ballroom dance or ice skating costume.

After all…it’s nearly invisible when installed properly.

invisible back zipper velvet red figure skating dress

 

Can you tell where the zipper is on this lovely velvet red dress? (If you keep reading or watch the video below I will show you.)

When I saw Wendy wear this dress for her Gold Ladies Free Skate at the 2019 Adult Figure Skating Championships in Salt Lake City, I knew I had to share it with you all. 

This is one my most favorite dresses of the event.

  • It fits her nicely.
  • The skirt attaches to the leotard with a flattering asymmetrical line.
  • It has a super-size rhinestoned focal point.
  • The mesh matches her skin tone nicely and it serves the purpose of holding the flower, not just to hold the dress on her body.
  • The overall design is cohesive and sophisticated.
  • And possibly the coolest thing: the well-camouflaged offset, diagonal, invisible back zipper.

 

Wendy bought this velvet red dress from a retired national competitor in Estonia. She likes to buy her skate dresses from retired professional competitors because “What I really like is the custom aspect. They look, to me, a lot more finished.”

I agree.

Custom-made, high level costumes almost always have a more thought-out, detailed design and are more decorated than stock or lower level figure skating dresses.

The high level skate dresses also fit body curves a lot better than off-the-rack dresses. Granted, the women competing at the super high levels have very little body fat.  It is much, much easier to design and fit for a lean woman than a curvy woman.

Wendy said, “Many of the stock dresses have a little triangle skirt that I do not like.  I do not find it flattering on me.”

She’s right again. 

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why so many ice skating costumes have the little “triangle skirt” as Wendy calls it.  As a dressmaker, I call it a V-shaped skirt or a V-shaped skirt attachment line.  No matter what you want to call it, these are not flattering skirt lines!

The figure skating dresses below have unique design elements that I like a lot.  But the “triangle skirt” as Wendy calls it is not flattering.  Not on lean women. Certainly not on curvy or plus size women.

 

V skating skirt attachment, ice skating costumes, mesh sleeves, rhinestones

 

The “classic” V skirt attachment looks good on very few women, whether she is fit or fluffy. 

The V shape skirt attachment almost always make the woman’s belly look larger and more round.  Who wants that?  No woman I know.

Also, since skate skirts have very little fullness, are made of stretch fabric and have no seam in the center front, the fabric tends to curl at the V which further emphasizes the tummy.  Who wants that? No one!  Please, please stop making skirts that attach to the leotard in a V shape. 

Even some of my ice and roller skating sewing school members insist on making a classic V skirt attachment which boggles my mind.  I shouldn’t complain though.  It’s human nature to want to follow the trend that is set, to comply with what is already established.

Whether you are a professional dressmaker or make costumes only for yourself, I challenge and implore you: create skirts that look good on women’s bodies.  Give us skirts that flatter our womanly curves, not make us look lumpy in the wrong places.

 

ice skating costume flared skirts stretch lace godet inserts mesh sleeves invisible back zipper

 

The image above is a sample of beautiful dresses with lovely, unique skirt attachments that make a woman look curvy in the places we want to look curvy.

Enough about skirts for now.  You get my point. 

I’m super passionate about this skate skirt topic.  I talked about it in past blogs and I’ll talk about it again in future blogs until it improves.

 


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When Wendy bought this velvet red dress with an invisible zipper, she thought the costume looked a little bit old-fashioned, but she loved the elegance. So do I.

Three design elements work together to make a consistent design that stands out on the ice.

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 1. Offset Invisible Back Zipper 

 

The offset invisible back zipper - or a “blind zipper” as it is called in some countries  - is ingenious on Wendy’s dress.

Yes, zippers are a practical way to get in and out of this velvet red dress. But this invisible zipper is more camouflaged than normal because it is set in at an angle.

I’ve put zippers in Dancesport ballgowns in unique places to make the viewer wonder how the woman got into the dress.  This is first time I’ve seen a skate dress with a diagonal zipper like this.  Love it!

 

Even though Wendy’s velvet dress was not custom made for her, the zipper fits her perfectly without the fabric bunching up.

 

Full back zippers have the tendency to buckle because the zipper has no stretch.

You may want to check out the blog post featuring Monica’s dramatic purple and black rhinestoned dress.  Other than the zipper bulging in several places, this is a fabulous ice skating costume!

The dressmaker from Estonia that made Wendy's velvet red dress knew how to install an invisible zipper that lays flat and smooth like I teach in my sewing school.

 

 2. Consistent Asymmetry 

Many dress designs I saw at Adult Nationals 2019 were not very unified. For example, it is not uncommon to see a dress with a V neck and a rounded keyhole back. As a designer, this makes no sense to me.  Is the primary shape a crisp V or a rounded oval? Choose a theme and go with it.

One thing I love about Wendy’s velvet dress is the consistent design.

 

invisible back zipper velvet red figure skating costume, front back

 

The asymmetrical angles of the neckline, skirt attachment, and skirt hem all match each other. The diagonal lines on the front, along with the plunging back and points on the rose, make this a very angular dress design. Even the invisible zipper is set along a diagonal line.

 

  SEW LIKE A PRO™ DRESSMAKER TIP #1:  

For the most visually appealing costume, pick a design theme and repeat it several times on a costume.

 

 

invisible back zipper velvet red figure skating costume, back on ice 3

 3. Rose Made of Velvet Red, Lycra, and Black Mesh 

The rhinestoned rose focal point is a great design element that stands out on the ice. It is made of black mesh with burgundy lycra underneath. This creates a contrast because the shine of the lycra stands out against the dark velvet.

The flesh color mesh back with the invisible zipper matches Wendy’s skin color well.  She got lucky since this dress was not made for her.

Another thing I like a lot is that the mesh doesn't just hold the dress together, as in some figure skating dresses. Instead, it serves as a base for the rose. The mesh also has rhinestones which helps give it a purpose as a place to hold the bling. 

 

  SEW LIKE A PRO™ DRESSMAKER TIP #2:  

flesh mesh, keyhole back neckline, sweetheart neckline, feminine ice skating dressThe mesh back on this yellow costume has two strikes against it.

  1. The keyhole shape is not congruent with the V neckline so it is detracting from the overall dress design.
  2. The mesh color is too dark for the skater’s skin so the  keyhole opening and the mesh back look even more unappealing.

How can you make the back look better?  These are my two favorite, quick solutions:

1)  Make the skin darker.

Apply a coat of self-tanner or visit a tanning salon that does spray-on tans.  Both options are readily available, economical and easy to do the day before your event. 

Why is this important?  Making the skin match the mesh better makes an unattractive mesh area less obvious because it blends in with the skin.

2)  Add rhinestones to the mesh.

Sparkles go a long way towards making the mesh look better. (Or if your dress has lace, add lace and stones.  Again, whatever your dress theme is, add more of it so the design is consistent.)

 


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 Sleeves: To Have or Not to Have? 

The sleeves on Wendy’s velvet red dress are beautiful and add to the elegance of the design. However, because the sleeves are the same color as the bodice, sometimes the red velvet blends together and makes Wendy wider than she is.

invisible back zipper velvet red figure skating dress

 

Click here to read more about whether you want sleeves or not on your dress. 

When I asked Wendy what her least favorite thing about the dress is, she said,

“I have to be careful taking pictures to make sure you can see some distinction between the arms and the body, or else you can look very wide.”

During photos and while on the podium, she holds her arms slightly away from her body to create space.  Fashion models and actresses also do this for the same reason.  Plus, when your arms are held slightly away from the body, it helps your arms look trimmer because the fleshy upper arm is not smashed tightly against the body.

Wendy also said figuring out how to stand, whether at an angle or with your arms held away from the body, is one of the things she determines when she “tests her dress under lights and on the podium.” 

Great tip!  Can you tell she’s an experienced performer?

To look your best, it helps to know what your dress looks like everywhere in the rink, not just while competing. 

 

  SEW LIKE A PRO™ DRESSMAKER TIP #3:  

Pay attention to which design elements on your dress flatter your figure.  When posing for photos, try to show that area while standing as naturally as possible.  Conversely, if there are parts of the dress that do not flatter your figure, camouflage that area.  For example, if you have the classic V skirt attachment and it makes your tummy look larger, you can try turning to body at an angle and/or crossing your hands in front of your body so that part of the dress is camouflaged.  (If you choose this last option, be sure to hold your arms several inches or centimeters away from your body so you look as trim as possible and so the dress shows more in the photos.)

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Thanks for tuning in to Sew Like A Pro™.

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

 

 

 


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