The Business of Sewing Custom Figure Skating Dresses and Costumes

December 8, 2013 | By | Reply More

Read Part 1: Starting a Sewing Business for the Figure Skating Market

sewing business figure skating
The custom figure skating dress must reflect the skating style, choreography and music.  To succeed in the business of sewing custom-made figure skating outfits, it is important to remember that the costumes and outfits in figure skating are designed to enhance the quality of the program and to bring out the character the skater portrays. A skater competing to the music of Pirates of the Caribbean will use a pirate-themed outfit; while a skater competing to the music of Swan Lake will need to look ethereal on the ice.

The process for this type of sewing business starts with the design of the figure skating dress or costume. Get as much information as you can about the concept of the program, the music to be used and how the skater or coach feels the outfit must convey. For lower level freestyle skaters, coaches may just give some inputs, but it will mostly be the parents who will make the decision with regards to the design of the dress. For higher level skaters, the coaches are more involved in the process and will need to be consulted in the design of the dress. For syncro and theater on ice teams, it will be the coaches who will make the decision on the design of the costumes.

It is important to take into account the following factors when creating a design:

  • overall theme of the program
  • music that the skater will use
  • the character that will be portrayed (if any)
  • type of performance (e.g. jazz, lyrical, musical theater, etc)
  • the specific design of the dress including types of sleeves (sleeveless, cap sleeves, long sleeves or ¾ sleeves)
  • color preferences
  • desired fabric (metallic, matte or shiny lycra, velvet, mesh, etc)
  • decorations applied such as crystals, trims and appliques
  • date required
  • age of the performer
  • budget

If you are taking orders via your website for remote customers, be sure to ask for the above information. If the need warrants, do a videoconferencing or phone consultation with the customers to have a clearer idea of what they want the costume to look like.  Many seamstresses in this field provide designs in about 2 days after receiving the order and discussing expectations.

Sizing and fit are extremely important in figure skating outfits. The dress must fit the skater perfectly, without constraining the movements of the skater. A proper fitting skating outfit also helps keep the body lines look cleaner on the ice. As such, getting the correct measurements is critical to the finished outfit.

Taking accurate measurements will be the tricky part for remote customers such as those ordering online. It is important to provide remote customers with clear instructions on how to take measurement (one idea is to create a video on how to correctly measure for the dress).

It can take an average of 2-15 hours to create an ice skating costume, depending on the detail and amount of bling to be added, as well as your workload.  It is important to clarify to the customer when the costume will be delivered, especially if ordered during the busy competition season. Some dressmakers and designers specify that delivery of a costume can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks, with additional fees for rush jobs.

Pricing of the Custom Figure Skating Dresses and Costumes

Pricing of the figure skating costumes, outfits and dresses depend on the level of customization and designing that goes into the clothes. Ready-to-wear figure skating dresses can go anywhere from $80 to a couple of thousands. Ready to wear outfits from established brands such as Tania Bass, who have designed costumes for top skaters such as Irina Slutskaya and MIchael Weiss, cost anywhere from $550 to $1,500.

Custom-designed dresses can start at $300. The cost depends on the fabric, length of the dress, the amount of sequins or crystals and other bling, and other custom design that may be added. Clothes for high-level competitions tend to use more elaborate patterns. Figure skating dresses from top designers such as Vera Wang can cost up to $10,000 or more.

Most seamstresses and designers catering to this market prefer to know the set budget for the dress that the figure skater is willing to pay. This will help guide the seamstress in the selection of design and level of customization that will fit the budget. There’s no point in designing an outfit that the client cannot afford.

Additional Revenue Sources

Given the figure skating market is small, you can extend the market served by your sewing business and increase your income by tapping similar and complementary markets such as:

  • dancers
  • baton twirlers
  • rhythmic gymnasts
  • ballroom dancers
  • majorettes
  • drill teams


Starting a Sewing Business for the Figure Skating Market:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recommended Books on Starting a Sewing Business:


Isabel Isidro is the co-founder of A mom of three boys, avid vintage postcard collector, frustrated scrapbooker, she also manages Women Home Business, Starting Up Tips and Learning from Big Boys. Connect with her in Google +.

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