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I recently made a youth ballroom dance costume for nine-year-old Nina. When Nina, her mother Liza and I met, the nine-year old was calm and confident, knowing exactly which colors she wanted.

As the design process went along, versatility was a big topic of conversation since Nina needs to be able to grow into the costume – both physically and emotionally. Also, youth dancers often do not have long to change costumes between the styles, so timing is an issue as well.

To accommodate all those needs, I created a variety of easy-to-remove options including accent bows, a gauntlet and two removable skirts that make costume changes a snap! More detachable items can be added as she wishes.

With Nina’s costume, I left large seams everywhere in the leotard (including the stride length) that can be let out as she grows. Between the stretch of the matte lycra and large seams, she can comfortably wear this combination dress for many years to come.

If you’re planning on making your child’s youth ballroom dance costume, keep these tips in mind:

  • the leotard sewing on a child's costume takes less time than an adult's because it has less curves and children are easier to fit
  • A child's Latin or Standard skirt takes the same amount of time to make as an adult's, though it consumes less fabric
  • Detachable accessories can easily add several extra hours so you might want to allow more time than you think
  • If your coach likes to be active in the costume process, add hours to your estimated time budget to meet with the coach several times during the design and the sewing process
  • Know the costume rules for your child's category and age levels. (See the links at the bottom of the blog.)

I also made the Latin costume for Lazar, Nina’s dancing partner. Thanks again to Lazar & Nina’s coach,  Anya Klimova-Preston, for letting us take over her studio space for filming.



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  • leave big seam allowances - especially in the length since they will likely grow up before they grow out
  • design skirts so longer layers can be attractively added underneath the top layers
  • satin or accent ribbons added to the bottom of skirts can also be used to lengthen the hem and still keep an attractive design




Know your child's dance category.  Know the costume rules for that category.

Here are links for several countries. Check your country's rules before beginning a project.






(Download the "2015A Dancesport Rule Book". Dress rules begin on page 23)





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From Teresa Sigmon,
Founder and Designer of Seams Sensational
Creator of the Sew Like A Pro™ training series

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