Tips in Making Dance Costumes

Dance attires

How you will make your dance costumes depends on what type of dance those costumes are for.  This could be ballet, ballroom, jazz, tap, or modern dance, among others.

As ballet dance costumes go, well-made tutus are generally too complicated for the amateur stitcher.  Generally, tutus are custom-made by tutu companies, whose websites can be found online, or less expensive (but lesser quality) versions can be purchased from dance wear companies such as Discount Dance.  So, for your homemade dance costume, you should focus more on simpler options.

  • For most dance costumes, the base is a leotard or unitard.  Generally, these are purchased, but one can also be made with a store-bought pattern.  They should be made out of Lycra (or any other spandex), which can be purchased at any fabric store or online.  Since this is for a dance costume, the stretchier, the better.  Look for four-way stretch Lycra.
  • For female dancers, once you have your leotard, you can work on what goes over it.  This could be a dress or a skirt.  For a dance costume, the fabric that is most interesting is something that the audience will see move as the dance moves.  A good fabric to use would be silk, which has many different varieties, including silk chiffon, satin, crepe, and organza.
  • You can use store-bought patterns for your dresses or skirts, which can be almost anything, but you will need to make them appropriate for a dance costume. For example, if it has a straight skirt, you may need to add in slits on the sides, or if it's a A-line skirt, you may need to add in even more fullness if the dancer needs to be able to kick their leg up high.
  • Male dancers are often seen in just a unitard for ballet or some modern dances.  Often for jazz or ballroom dances, they might be in normal men's clothing, such as dress pants, dress shirts, and ties.  You may have to make modifications, however, because while dancing, men have a tendency to tear the crotch of their pants, or rip the shoulder seams of their shirts.  This can be avoided by opening seams and adding in gussets (small panels of fabric) for a little extra room, which allows for more movement.

Glitz is always good for dance costumes (sequins and rhinestones) because it looks great on stage, and interesting hats and headpieces can help to complete your dance costume.


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