My kid’s ballet program generally isn’t too outrageous when it comes to recital costumes. I know of other programs in our town that require two or more elaborate, brand-new costumes per recital, generally along the lines of rainbow-colored flapper outfits, or leotards with butt ruffles, that you’re never going to get your kid to wear again, because no kid *really* wants to be a flapper for Halloween.
I will tell you another time about my thoughts on the privilege of wealth that lets someone assume that just because you’re sending your kid to dance class, you can blow a bunch of money on an elaborate dance recital costume that your kid will wear once.
Anyway, my kid’s program usually doesn’t pull that kind of crap, but this year they required that for the recital, every child wear a white leotard and white dance skirt. Why the children can’t simply wear the uniform leotards and dance skirts that they already own, I don’t know, other than the assumption that none of us would mind shelling out another fifty bucks just so we can have an even harder time picking our kid out of the group on stage.
A white leotard that meets ballet program specifications is twenty-plus bucks. That’s a fair price for the fabric and pattern and technique that goes into sewing such a leotard, especially if you pretend that the person who sewed it was paid a fair price for their work. A white dance skirt that meets the ballet program specifications is thirty-plus bucks. That’s… ridiculous. The thing is a half-yard of chiffon, a yard of 1/8″ bias tape, and a rolled hem.
Fortunately, something that simple is also simple to make!
You will need:
half-yard of chiffon. That’s enough to make a dance skirt for a long-legged ten-year-old. Size up to get more length.
1. Make the pattern for your dance skirt. If you already own or can borrow a dance skirt, all you have to do is trace it, adding an extra inch to the bottom and sides for the rolled hem. If you don’t have a skirt to copy, though, your job is barely harder–as you can see in the image above, the dance skirt is nothing more than a u-shaped half-circle of fabric, longer in the middle and gradually tapering to a little shorter at both sides, bilaterally symmetrical. The longest part of the skirt should be the length that you want, plus an inch for hemming; the width of the skirt should be 1.5 to 2 times your waist measurement. The bias tape should be long enough to wrap around you and tie comfortably in the back.
2. Copy your pattern onto the fabric and cut it out.
3. Sew the sides and bottom with a rolled hem. Here’s how to sew a rolled hem without a rolled hem foot for your sewing machine. Considering the learning curve that a rolled hem foot requires, it’s not any quicker to use one if you don’t plan to use it often.
4. Center the bias tape with the center of the top raw edge of the skirt; encase the raw edge in bias tape. Here’s how to sew double-fold bias tape–it’s even easier than sewing the rolled hem!
When you’re finished, your kid’s ballet skirt will look just like all the other kids’ ballet skirts–
–so be sure and sit close to the stage, so you can pick her out from all the other kids in white!