Designing & Sewing Your Own Dance Costume Dress

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Designing and sewing your own dance costume is a great way to really put your own personal stamp on your favorite hobby. Design and sew your own dance costume with help from a professional dance fitness instructor in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Dance for Fitness
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Sabrina Moxie with Body Lingo, and I'm here at Body Lingo Studio in South Pasadena, California. Today, I'll be showing you how to design and sew a proper costume for any performance, any show you might have coming up or just something really nice and fun to dance in. So, the most important things you want to consider when designing your costume is of course function, form and style. So, you want to make sure that your costume always functions properly. Now, that's got to be first and foremost because if you have something that's too tight, you won't be able to move properly. If you have something that's too loose, you can get tangled in it and no one wants to fall on stage. Now, the second thing you want to consider is actually form. As a dancer, most of the time, you'll be looking to accentuate your figure, so you want to have something that's fitted but not tight fitting. As a performer in theater or for vocal performances, you have a little bit more leeway because you're not using your body as your main tool. So, have fun, be creative with what you're trying to do. Style. The last thing you want to consider is how does this costume explain what I'm doing. How does this costume add to the value of the story you're trying to tell? For example, if you're doing a story that set in Egypt, you want to have a really great Arabian costume. If you have a story that's say in a, let's say belly dance situation, you'd want to make sure that you have a nice little belly dance skirt to really give people the style of the environment that you're trying to portray. It also helps move the story along and it creates your character. Especially when you're in a dance performance where you won't be speaking, people have to understand who your character is from the minute they walk out on the stage. For a budget costume, you can usually find a small piece that will add to what you already have in your closet. Just make sure that the piece you add is appropriate in function and in form and of course, the style of the story you're trying to portray. A great place to look for these pieces will be thrift stores and some after Halloween sales at costume shops. I actually got this piece from a costume shop and it goes with the black pants that I have on so you can actually add a piece like this to give a really sexy and sensual addition to your costume with simple black Yoga pants. Now, if you're going to make a costume from scratch, there's a couple of things that you'll need essentially. A sewing machine can make the sewing process go a lot faster. But, of course, you always have the option to hand sew. You want to have a measuring tape on hand to make sure you have the right amount of fabric. Too much or too little fabric can actually hinder the appearance of your costume by making it look oversize or too small. No one wants a piece of fabric that's too small added to their costume because it does make it look cheap or like you ran out of fabric. Even if that's the case, you never want the audience to know. You'll need an iron so that you can make sure that any pieces you add onto your costume lay flat and flush with the form of your costume so that everything comes together and lays nicely and fits your body well. Now, I find that a leotard is a really great base costume piece to start with. Leotards are fun and form fitting. So, if you start with a leotard, you know you have something that's going to fit your body, that's going to function correctly because you have full range of motion since there's not a whole lot to it. Make sure that you're getting a color that works with what you need; that way you have options. If you're doing something that's maybe dark and edgy, a black leotard will be a really great piece to start with, and then you can always add bright pieces to it. Now, if you're doing something fun and poppy, a pink leotard is a really great option to make sure it's light, bright and colorful. When you're adding pieces to your leotard, the most important things to consider are where your function happens. So, for this leotard piece, I start it with a blue leotard. I made sure that the pieces I was enhancing didn't hinder my ability to move. For example, you want to always consider your side seams. Side seams are really important because you need to be able to stretch and move in your costume. If you accidentally sew up your seam, you can actually limit your movement and you'll find out about it later when you put it on and try to perform and then it's too late. You also want to consider the back of your costume. Sometimes the audience does see your back and you want to make sure that the front isn't flashy and then the back is plain. That actually creates a lackluster effect to your costume that makes it once again look kind of cheap and last minute. So, for this costume I made sure to only add extra fabric to the parts that weren't form and function pieces. So, for example, by adding a little bit of extra flash to the neckline, I made sure that I wasn't going to hinder my ability to move, stretch and dance. Again, with the back, I made sure that I was avoiding any vital seam pieces that will keep me from being able to bend and stretch. Now, one last consideration is the belt piece. A lot of people add belts to their costume without considering that when you put on your leotard, it's going to stretch and you need to be able to move. So, a good thing to do is to only sew your belt piece in three main portions which are going to be the side, the side and the middle. Allow room for the rest to kind of slope and dangle. That way, when you put it on, it's not going to be too tight. So, here we have Allie, who's one of our instructors at Body Lingo Studio, and she's wearing the costume I just showed you. So, as you can see with the chest piece, Allie has full range of motion. She's not limited in her ability to stretch and move. With the belt piece, she's able to move freely and the belt isn't too ride around, too tight around her mid-section. And if she turns around, you can see that the sparkle piece we added to the back to keep it really exciting isn't attached to any of the seams. So, she's still able to move, stretch and dance as she needs to. For more information, visit our website at See you soon.


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