Sewing your own Skate & Gymnastics Wear – getting started

Hints and tips for sewing skating dresses and leotards

As a skater, and a parent of both a skater and a gymnast, it didn’t take me long to see the benefits of learning to sew leotards! It is really not as hard as it looks, especially when you have a good pattern. Here are some ideas to get you started.

What you’ll need…..

– a reliable sewing machine with good zig zag ability. Or an overlocker/serger if you are lucky! The overlocker is great to speed up projects and give them a more professional look. They are not essential though!

– lycra or stretch velvet fabric. Lycra is easier to learn with. If buying stretch velvet, make sure it is good quality and preferably 4 way stretch. If buying 2 way stretch, make sure stretch is generous and even in both directions. Panne velvet does not have good stretch and patterns will usually need adjusting to allow for this, so if possible, go for the good stuff. Panne also curls and is a general pain.

– a good pattern. Jalie and quik sew have some good ones. I will try and post some of my favourites to help fellow beginner sewers. Click HERE to see some of my favourites!


My favourite ‘non-compulsory’ tunes for ice dance

A collection of my favourite “non-compulsory” music for ice dance. Bound to spice up your lessons! More as I find them..

Dutch Waltz – 135 bpm

  • Kissed by a Rose – Seal
Swing Dance – 108
  • Bang Bang – Roisin Murphy
  • Vianne sets up shop – Chocolat soundtrack
  • Home Improvements – My Friend the Chocolate Cake (Yes, that’s an Australian band!)
  • Beautiful night – the Waifs
14 Step – 112 bpm
  • Blame it on the Boogie – the Jacksons
  • Jive Talking – the Beegees
  • Ou est ma tete? – Pink Martini (very cute!)
Foxtrot – 100bpm
  • Superstition – Stevie Wonder
  • Chor Bazari – Love Aaj Kal
  • Rawhide – The Blues Brothers Soundtrack
European Waltz- 135 bpm
  • Butterfly Waltz – Bella’s wedding processional, on “Wedding Day Music” from iTunes.

Ready, set, go!

This week I have had brought home to me the importance of having your blades set and sharpened by a specialist. After buying new blades a few months ago my skating was instantly beset with new difficulties. I put my it down to adjusting to the new blades and persevered.

After 3 months, things were just getting worse. Weren’t these new blades meant to improve my skating? The blades had a death wobble at speed, fell in and refused to lift in my loop jump, and my one foot back slaloms would only go in circles. My spins were gone, and along with all that went my confidence and trust for my skates, which before the change had just started to feel like natural extensions to my feet. My boots now had so many holes in the sole, filling was needed. One screw became fixed in the filler. The blades no longer were sitting flush with the sole of the boot. In places there was a gap between. I could feel movement and creaking even off the ice standing still. Time to take action.

I am fortunate that near my home lives a semi-retired skate technician. This man, an 89 year old ex engineer and professional skater, is a perfectionist and takes his blades seriously! It is where I should have taken them to start with….but time constraints prevented it.

After an hour of painstaking (and vocally colourful) work, my skates were in perfect alignment, and sharpened beautifully. He showed me how woeful the rink sharpen was, how the angle of my blade to the boot and to the ice looked like a year 7 geometry lesson gone wrong, and made me feel lucky to be still in one piece!

The proof was furnished on taking them for a spin yesterday. No wobble, no creaking, no falling in. Safe as houses, they felt solid as a rock.

The morals of this story:
* make the time to get your gear sorted by an expert.
* the set of your new blades is more important than any fabulous features they may have. Like a car, crooked wheels will not drive true no matter how expensive they are!!

Loop the loop

Today’s session began with the usual highs and lows of my intermittent skating skills. Camel and sit spins good, loop jump still cactus, blades slipping everywhere needing a sharpen. I hate how I can get all excited, thinking how I have mastered skill x, perform it consistently for several weeks, then suddenly it is just not there any more. Where does skill x go? Why does it then take several more weeks to relearn it? That is my loop jump. If you’re out there loop jump, please come home. I miss you!