Dance Costumes: Beginner’s Guide To The Basics

Recently, I have been working on numerous Hmong dance costumes. Hmong dance costumes are not the typical dancewear costumes that you would see on dance moms or dancing with the stars. 

Hmong dance costumes mostly consist of multiple woven fabrics and trims layered on to each other. Although woven fabrics/trims are great, they are limiting in motion and stretch. As a designer, this means that I have to build more ease into the dance costumes to enable mobility.

That got me thinking. What can I do to help these dancers with comfort and mobility while having a great fit? To help improve the dancer’s ability to move and stretch within Hmong dance costumes, I did some research into making these costumes out of different materials. 

What if I use traditional dance wear fabrics like knits? It would allow ease, full range of movement, and would be more form-fitting. 

If you are a beginner, I understand that making dance costumes can be confusing and overwhelming. Therefore in today’s blog, I will be answering some beginner’s questions on how to make dance costumes out of knits. 

These are the fundamental basics and can be applied anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced designer. You can check out my other blog post for beginners.

Related Topics:

Project: Custom Prom Dress

The GLUE Question

Glue dance costumes

The most common question that I get from a beginner is, “Can I glue/hot glue it?”  The answer is yes and no.  

Yes, you can use glue such as E6000 to add rhinestones to your dance costume. What you CAN NOT do is use glue to construct your costume or keep your seams together. 

Gluing your seams will not provide enough support to hold your costume together. Dance costumes require strong durability for all the movements that will be happening while being worn.  

Not only that, during performances, the heat from a dancer’s body can potentially soften and make the glue more pliable. This can lead to your seams and other bits coming apart.

Hot Glue may be ideal for Halloween or cosplay costumes, but not for dance costumes.  Gluing your costumes in general leads to many mishaps. 

When done incorrectly you can ruin the costume. Hot glue or glue in general ruins fabrics by leaving the fabric stiff in places where you had the glue.

Therefore you can use glue to add rhinestones to the costume. Don’t use glue to make the costume. 

The TAPE Question

tape dance costumes

I have seen and been asked many questions about taping. My best answer is DON’T DO IT! 

Like glue, the tape does not stretch. It will not hold the fabrics together because the tape isn’t strong enough. Since tape has limited elasticity, it will not stretch and bend along your body. 

This means that the tape will not lay flat against your body. Therefore, the costume will not be flattering as the tape causes ripples and bubbles at the seams.

If you tape your costumes, it will most likely fall apart when you are performing on stage. To avoid any wardrobe malfunctions, I would say avoid taping a dance costume together in general.

The only case where tape can be used is when you are using double-sided tape to tape a sewn costume to your body. This is to ensure that the costume doesn’t move and stays in place. 

Not only that, you would use a specific tape known as body tape or clear dress tape. However, this is different than taping an entire dance costume together.

The STAPLE Question

Staple

Stapling your dance costume together is the worst. Similar to glue, stapling your dance costume ruins the fabric and leaves holes where the staples were put. 

Not only that, you see staples at your seams and the staples can prick you while dancing. Which leaves nasty scratch marks. I don’t think anyone would want that on their body.

Furthermore, staples can snag and rip the fabric, or pull a run in your fabric. Leaving an awful streak across your dance costume, rendering it unappealing. 

Therefore, avoid stapling PERIOD!

Since I can not glue, tape, or staple, what can I do? The best and most traditional way is by sewing!

The Correct Way To Do It

Sew it

Sewing a dance costume is the most ideal way to put an outfit together! It also leads to the durability and longevity of the costume. 

You can sew the dance costume by machine or hand. Most of the time, if it’s a team outfit, it would be done by machine. That way you can produce more in a shorter time period. 

Don’t know how to sew on a machine? Don’t worry, you can always sew by hand. It will take a bit longer, but will still be just as beautiful. All you need is to be able to do a straight stitch!

By stitching your dance costume together, it ensures the best mobility and guarantees that your costume will not fall apart while you dance on stage. Not only that, the outfit will hug every curve on a dancer’s body. 

With a nice and fitted dance costume, the dancers will be able to score more points on their appearance while captivating judges. 

In a dance competition, every point makes a difference. Especially when a team is competing for the top place, a point can make a difference from 1st or 2nd place.

Related Topics:

Beginner’s Sewing Guide: Basics to Sewing
Singer Sewing Machine Review
Stress: How To Avoid It When Creating Many Outfits

Experiences

Experiences with dance costumes
Special thanks to Txer Zhon Kha Photography for this photo. Check out more of his amazing work on his fb page!

From past experiences, I have witnessed many wardrobe malfunctions with gluing, taping, and stabling. The glue, tape, and staple method are only a temporary fix. 

I would consider it only as an option for a quick fix or a last-minute resort. Otherwise, the best option is to get it sewn. That way it can last for many events. 

Besides, when you make dance costumes you pour so much money, time, energy, and effort into making it look the best. You want your dance costume to last.

Now get to Creating!

create dance

Sewing a costume can be overwhelming. However, if you use the correct method to make it, you will have a costume that will last you for a long time. Not only that, it will fit and look amazing on you or the dancer who you are making it for.

Related Topics:
Project: Custom Prom Dress

I hope my insights into making dance costumes have been helpful. Is there anything that you would love to explore more? Maybe we could explore it together! Let me know in the comments below! 

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