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If you sew, you know that making a gown using a  Vogue pattern  to create an evening gown is very different from making a competition ballroom dancing dress or an ice skating costume.

Sadly, most self-taught dressmakers (including myself) first learn to make competition ballroom dance costumes by altering an evening gown sewing pattern.  

That’s one of the reasons I created my online sewing school: there was no training or support for learning to make competition ballroom, country and skate dresses.

But now there is!

I offer a lot of free training through my blogs like this one plus I created an online sewing school just for learning to make Dancesport, Country and skating dresses.  Click here for more information about the online sewing programs.


Vogue pattern 8814 ballroom dance dress, front back view, U Can Dance Studio


Lynn, our guest dressmaker, is a self-taught novice.  This is only her fourth or fifth dance dress.  She did a great job considering she has no formal training and minimal experience!  In my mind, the outstanding black and white print fabric gives the dress a strong, professional look even though the construction is not quite professional level.


Funny but true story:  Back in the mid 1990s, I made Lynn a ballgown and a Latin dress.  (I wish I had photos to show, but I do not.)    A few years ago she signed up to receive my newsletters.  I recognized her name instantly.  … Yes, I keep track of all the names on my Sew Like A Pro™ email list 🙂

I thought it was cool that I was able to reconnect with her as I was passing through St. Louis, Missouri summer of 2018.  Little did I know when I scheduled to meet her at the U Can Dance Studio, that she had picked up sewing since the last time I saw her!


I strive to give you fresh content and to reach as many dance and skate dressmakers as possible. 

This is my first time filming a blog about a Dancesport ballgown that was not professionally made, either by me or another dressmaker.  Nor was it made by one of my Sew Like A Pro™ members.  In truth, I was a little lost as to what to say that I would want to put in a training video.  So I told her what was good and what needed improving.  

Join Lynn and I as we “breakdown” her ballgown so you too can make a beautiful ballgown using Vogue pattern 8814 … if you want to continue struggling with every competition dress you make.

Just sayin’.


Lynn is a perfect candidate for the SLP™ sewing school for several reasons:

1. She knows how to sew. 

Are you self-taught like Lynn?  Are you a beginning seamstress?  That’s okay.  If you can sew anything – like pillow slip covers or quilts or blouses – I can teach you to make professional quality ballroom, country and skating dresses.  No joke.

custom graduation dress by Sew Like A Pro™ member Lauren Wilmore


2. She will learn to make her own custom patterns.  No more fighting with standard sewing patterns. 

Like Lynn, I used to turn evening gown sewing patterns into ballgown patterns.  OMG, it was so frustrating!  Lynn says she feels like she “reinvents the wheel with every dress.” 

Yep.  I remember those days and so do many of my SLP™ members.  

But now, SLP™ members like Lauren have the skills and confidence to make her own custom formal dress patterns whenever she needs a “regular” dress or a competition dance costume.

Check out this blog post with Patsy, one of the Sew Like A Pro™ members who used to adjust evening gown sewing patterns before she enrolled in my sewing school.


3. If Lynn continues making dresses for clients, the sewing school can help her increase profits and customer satisfaction. 

Please note: I don’t guarantee anyone will earn money making competition dresses.  What I can say is that for those who wish to make money as a dressmaker, I can help them do it faster and smarter so they have the opportunity to earn more money, slow down stress-caused gray hair and have more satisfied clients.



How Lynn Modified the Vogue Pattern to Create a Ballgown

Vogue pattern 8814 ballroom dance dress


First, Lynn did not change anything on the Vogue pattern 8814 for the front of this ballgown.  What makes this dress pop is the textured lurex halter top and a graphic black and white print which I love! 

Lynn also added rhinestones to the dress, although not very many.  These high-impact fabrics are a perfect choice for anyone on a tight budget because they don’t need a lot of decorations.

Second, adding a wide crinoline to the skirt hem was a wise choice.  This hem treatment is a detail that adds skirt volume and makes it look less like a street dress.

Vogue pattern ballroom dance dress, crinoline hem, U Can Dance Studio


The sewing gets complicated from this point.

Lynn made trunks that attach inside the black and white print dress.   

Evening gown sewing patterns don’t have trunks or leotards as part of the design.  Adding trunks to this dress so it becomes a competition ballroom dance costume is one of the hardest parts of the process because she has to make stretchy trunks play nice with a non-stretch dress.

In my sewing school I teach my students how to make professional-quality ballgowns.  Step one is designing.  Step two is making her own custom leotard pattern.  Everything comes after that.  The built-in leotard is the cornerstone for a perfectly fitted costume.  



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By signing up here, I am aware I will receive the weekly SLP™ newsletter. I am also aware I will receive two special training videos and information about enrolling in the sewing courses. (This series of marketing emails lasts about 2 weeks.) I can unsubscribe from either list at any time.


More Changes to the Vogue Pattern

The original Vogue evening gown sewing pattern has a section in the middle that is cut separately from the halter top and the skirt.   Lynn used this exactly as indicated on the pattern.  The accent cut makes a very pretty skirt attachment line, but makes the sewing more complicated because the grain of the fabrics are not the same.  She did a great job attaching these two items together.

Vogue pattern ballroom dance dress, bias cut


You may notice in the video that the fabric in this mid-section is a little bunched up.

This is not a desirable look since most ballgown bodices are made with stretch fabrics that hug the body.


SEW LIKE A PRO™ DRESSMAKER TIP:  The main problem here is that Lynn cut the bodice on the bias like the Vogue pattern indicated.

Why is that a problem?

The black and white print fabric already had a fair amount of stretch.  The best way to cut this particular fabric would have been to cut it with the stretch going horizontally around the bodice.  This is the same way you would cut a traditional Dancesport ballgown so it looks and feels the best.

Since she cut it on the bias, the stretch in the fabric was wasted, going no where useful.  This unfortunately leaves a baggy bodice cut to have no real fabric stretch and almost no bias.

This is only one of the many problems novice dressmakers may encounter when trying to convert any evening gown sewing patterns.



Accessories:  Rhinestoned Bracelets and Detachable Standard Floats

Vogue pattern ballroom dance dress, accessories 1


In addition to making this Dancesport ballgown from a Vogue pattern, Lynn made several decorative accessories to go with this black and white print dress. 

She created a variety of lovely, highly functional beaded and rhinestoned arm bands and bracelets for Mary, the co-owner of U Can Dance Studio, to wear when she is dancing Smooth.  The arm bands even have black flowers on them to help tie them in with the dress print.

Lynn also made detachable floats out of glitter chiffon so Mary can easily convert the dress to a Standard style dance dress.

Making accessories like bracelets, arm bands, or detachable drapes is an easy way to enhance almost any type of competition ballroom, country or figure skating costume!

Consider making accessories for your own ballgown, and check out my Dancesport Accessories Pinterest Board!



Have you used a graphic print before?  How did you like it? 

Share your sewing struggles & your triumphs below, after you watch the video.


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




Get the SLP™ newsletter and information about sewing school enrollment.

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By signing up here, I am aware I will receive the weekly SLP™ newsletter. I am also aware I will receive two special training videos and information about enrolling in the sewing courses. (This series of marketing emails lasts about 2 weeks.) I can unsubscribe from either list at any time.





lace ballroom dance dress, U Can Dance Studio


Our model Pat wears her vibrant pink, lace ballroom dance dress. This Dancesport ballgown is eighteen years old and she wants to update it.

Join Pat and I as we discuss seven ways to give her dress a new look and make it fit better.

Lengthen Leotard To Make Bustline Fit Higher, Betty U Can Dance Studio


This was a fun video for me to film because Betty knows how to sew and can do her own alterations.  What Betty didn’t know was that I would give her solid sewing advice so she can fix the parts of the dress that don’t fit well.  Join us for a major sewing alterations discussion.



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