You’ve seen it before – a soloist enters the stage in a beautiful, rhinestone-filled dance costume and, as you look down at your own catalog-purchased ensemble, you wonder how much it cost them to have the costume made. What doesn’t help is TV shows like Toddlers in Tiaras talking about how their pageant costumes cost thousands of dollars. With entry fees and dance lessons, how could you possibly afford to buy one of those costumes?
The good news is that a lot of these dance teachers and parents are able to assemble these costumes for relatively less than you might think. The trick is to find the appropriate “base” for the costume that will save you on having a seamstress assemble it. Here are some tips for finding and creating great competition costumes, even if you can’t really sew:
1. Discounted formal gowns: When department stores put gowns on clearance after prom season, snatch up the ones that don’t feature billowing skirts or designs that would be difficult to cut. Also, some fabrics will fray, so stick to the silky, heavier fabric. Cut the dress to the desired length and either hem the bottom or use a bonding agent such as Fabri-Tac or Stitch Witch to ensure the edge is finished. Add some bloomers or booty shorts underneath and you’ve got a solo costume that no one else will have.
2. Booty shorts and tops: When you want a costume with a little less coverage, the best thing to do is to buy booty shorts and top set in a color or pattern that you love. For a jazz routine, zebra print booty shorts with a colorful top may also be a great option. You can add rhinestones to the entire ensemble, add a tutu or ruffles to the back of the shorts, or add a cute cropped jacket. These are some simple add-ons that goes a long way. Just make sure when you’re stitching it to the back of the shorts, you leave room for the material to stretch over the dancer’s bottom when putting the costume on. A good rule of thumb for this is to either tack it on when they have it on their body or pin the tutu and sew it while it’s off.
3. Lingerie: Yes, you may hesitate at putting your child in lingerie, but there are actually some really great options that don’t appear racy once they are rhinestoned and accessorized. A good option for this is to find a baby doll lingerie dress that does not feature sheer fabric. Bigger department stores such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart will have inexpensive options to start with. Add some rhinestones to the dress, and experiment with beaded trims to accent an empire waist.