Designing My Rumba Dress (2014)

Back in September, I decided that I wanted to perform in the Christmas Showcase at my dance studio, DanceMakers in Fort Worth. I started taking some private lessons with Ryan there sometime in August. We were working on the smooth ballroom dances, Fox Trot and Waltz. We thought about doing a Fox Trot at the Showcase, it would give me about 3 months to work on the routine. Then Ryan decided, because of my doing ballet, that maybe we should do an International Rumba dance instead. I’ve never done International Rumba, I have done some American Rumba, but I can’t really say that I was very good at it.

So International Rumba it is…. we thought of songs… came up with Besame Mucho by Andrea Bocelli… then after a couple of weeks Ryan changed the song to Satisfy My Soul by Paul Carrack. I love this song!

My first big challenge is to learn the dance… and for the most part, I have it, but the opening steps and pose are a bit hard for me to grasp. I mentioned that maybe we should change it, but, no…. so I’ll just do the best I can with it.

The next challenge was a costume. I searched the internet and found two dresses that I loved… The white as my favorite and then the pink. Ryan liked the simpleness of the white one.  I googled for days looking to see where I could buy these or something similar, but couldn’t find it anywhere.


imageThe closest I came to them was this on eBay, but I wasn’t crazy about the silver sequin bands. It was made in China and if I ordered it, it wouldn’t arrive until the week of the showcase and it was also about $500.  I couldn’t see spending $500 for something that I wasn’t 100% sure about.. and also the shipping time was just too close to the showcase.







So I decided to make my own design and dress.  I do sew costumes, so I knew I should be able to handle this project.    I had some turquoise lycra left over from another project I was working on so I draped it on my dress form to see if I had enough fabric and to see if I liked it.  I liked the look… although everything I do seems to be turquoise.  I wanted white, but I already have this fabric, so I might as well use it.




I then started draping some old white spandex on my dress form to start making the pattern.  I pinned it and marked it to get ready to cut it and then to make the real pattern from it.

(I ended up not using the turquoise lycra because when I went to the WearHouse Fabric store in Dallas on Harry Hines to buy some fabric for a flamenco skirt and tango dress, I saw a really pretty stretch velvet fabric in a pink-coral color with some sparkle to it, next door in the spandex store.  It was on sale, so I bought that for my dress.)



After pinning the test fabric on the dress form, I marked the fabric where the seams would be with a marking pen while it was still on the dress form and then removed it to lay it out and make the pattern.

0U8A9315  0U8A9308



After cutting out the fabric, I sewed it together, put it back on the dress form, made a few adjustments and more sewing.   Then I tried it on… Even though the dress form is made to my exact measurements, there were  a few more adjustments to make.   So, back to the sewing machine to adjust it.   Then I tried it on again.  It was ok, I wasn’t really crazy about the design and the long dress.   It looked nice on the dress form, but not really overly flattering on me, it was just a bit boring.   I thought that I would like to ruche the waist area and the backside of it.   I’ve never done ruching so I needed to do some research on that.

0U8A9417 0U8A9416 0U8A9418 IMG_1095

Meanwhile, I ordered some Swarovski rhinestones from a website called, they had a great sale on them and they had all of the sizes I needed in the color I wanted.  I decided to go a little bit lighter with the stones.  I have a Swarovski sample card and the light rose color seemed to go best with it.   Now that I see the stones on the fabic, next time I’ll order a color deeper rather than lighter than the fabric, I think it would have looked nicer and added a little more color to it.  I’m happy enough, though with the soft rose stones.

While I tried the dress on, I started playing around with the style and I decided to make it a shorter dress.  It would be easier to dance in and I think it was actually prettier.


IMG_1653IMG_1655So  I pinned the whole thing while it was on me the way I thought it would be best, then put it back on the dress form, I repinned it and started cutting.




I ended up with this and liked it so much better.

IMG_1687  IMG_1696

I tried it on, it fit perfect, then next, I needed to make some dance shorts for it.  Rather than leotard style, I decided to go with boy shorts.  I had to add bra cups because with the style of the back you can’t wear a bra.  I had to make sure that the elastics would hold everything in place when I danced, so that took a little bit of research and figuring it out for me.

IMG_1717 IMG_1718 IMG_1721




Then I made the long pointed fingerless gloves and finally added the embellishments. Before I wear it I will have to put some matching foundation makeup on the elastics to match my skin so the elastic is less obvious when I wear it.






I got a bit stuck on what to do for embellishments.  I ended up going back to Dallas to see if there was any sort of trim or appliqués that might go with it. I did find some appliqués and the final result is this.  So I put them on the dress and the gloves, then I added the Swarovski rhinestones on the dress and appliqués and finished it off with some rhinestone banding by slit over the shorts.

rumba dress finished

I’m really happy with the way this turned out, it’s so comfortable, moves well and fits perfectly.

Thanks for reading this!



Yesterday I wore the dress during my lesson/rehearsal to see how it worked with my choreography… Under the studio lights, the color was a bit brighter than it was in my house…but such a pretty color!

The right side is perfect while facing the audience but I need to put a little more interest on the left side. Today I’ll add one more ruched tuck on the bottom and I’ll add rhinestones to the skirt rather than only on the bodice. I was concerned about rhinestones coming off during the dance because it’s a little more difficult to glue them to velvet than fabrics with no nap, but only 3 came off so I was happy with that. I’ll replace them today. The elastic bands need some tightening up and I also want to sparkle the shoulder elastic band up and then I need to put makeup on them to match my skin … other than that, the dress was perfect!

Here is the final embellished dress

final rumba dress








My routine is coming along and after my rehearsal yesterday I’m a bit more confident about the dance and looking forward to the showcase. One more week of lessons and I’m ready to go!

I have to find a rhinestone necklace, I would like one that drapes down the back… I have rhinestone earrings that will be good with this. This week, I’ll check the bridal stores to see if they have something….. And hair.. I have no idea what to do with my hair… so I have an appointment with my favorite hairdresser ever, Ramiro Gonzalez in Dallas on the day before the showcase.  He works with doing ballroom hair so he will be perfect to help me figure this out.



Here I am getting ready for, and then in the performance… it was my first time dancing International Rumba, so it was a little bit of a challenge, but I loved it and the costume worked perfectly.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: