How to label dance costumes

How to put your name in your dancewear

How to put your name in your dancewear

Many dance schools require all students in the same level to wear the same uniform, so a lot of people own and wear (and, unfortunately, loose) the same items.  Most schools recommend that dancers write their names inside their dancewear.  This is the best way to keep track of your items when they get mixed up with other people's dancewear, but it is really difficult to write your name in some pieces.  How do you put your name in a black leotard?  What about on a reversible skirt?  In this post, I'll provide ideas for how you can permanently and stylishly put your name in your dancewear. 

1.       Write your name on the tag.  This is one of the most common and obvious techniques, but there are a few necessary conditions for this to work.  There must be a tag.  The tag must be a light color.  The tag must not be too silky (this causes all inks to bleed badly).   If the tag meets these conditions, use a fine point sharpie or fabric marker to write your name in bold letters on the back of the tag.  Your name should not wash out or bleed when you wash your dancewear, but it will fade over time.  Check the lettering and touch it up regularly to make sure your name is still legible.

2.       If there is no tag, the tag is too silky, or the tag is a dark color, you will have to use another option.  If the item is a leotard or bra, does it have a lining?  Is the lining a light color?  If so, write your name on the lining with a fabric marker.  Be very careful not to press too hard; the ink can bleed through the fabric and show on the outside of the garment. 

3.       If there is no lining or the lining is black, cut a small square (about 1" by 1")of light-colored soft fabric from an old t-shirt and write your name or initials on it with a fabric marker.  Carefully sew this square onto the inside of the garment.   Use thread the same color as the outside of the dancewear piece.  If your piece is reversible, write just your initials on the fabric square (you can use stylish lettering for a fun touch) and carefully sew it to the garment in a location where a logo would normally be (on the hip of a leotard, the back center of a bra, at the bottom of the leg of a pair of shorts, etc.).  Sewing on a nametag is more secure than using stick-on options.  If your garment later becomes a hand-me-down for someone else, use a seam ripper to remove your name tag.  It will come out easily with no reside or damage to the garment.

4.       For a wrap skirt with no tag, use a thin fabric marker to carefully write your initials inside the tie/band at the back of the skirt where it will always be against your body.  If the skirt is black, use the small square method from the previous item and sew it to the inside of the band as if it is a tag.  If you don't really need your name in your skirt, but want to make it slightly unique or different from other dancers' similar skirts, take one end of the tie and slide on a plastic bead (pony beads work best).   Tie a knot in the tie to keep the bead from slipping off.  This will make your skirt recognizable when it is next to several other dancers' similar skirts.  DO NOT use multiple beads, they are noisy and distracting.

5.       If you temporarily have a costume that will eventually be returned to a company or another 

person, tear a small  piece of masking tape or neoprene medical tape, write your name or initials on it, and stick it inside the item.  Be sure to do this with all pieces of the costume (top, skirt, hat, gloves, etc.).  This is also a good way to mark items (boot covers, etc.) as right and left.

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After the Competitions: How to Store Your Dance Costumes for the Summer

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Well-maintained dance costumes help you and your parents get the most from your investments. They can be handed down to younger siblings or re-purposed for the next season. And at the very least, a particularly special dance costume can be kept as a memento of hard work and achievement that can inspire young dancers.

You took time and care when the dance costumes first arrived. Take the same time and care after all the recitals and competitions are over for the season as you prepare to store them and help your parents learn how to do so — they’ll thank you for it. Here’s a simple five-point process you can share with your dancers on how to best care and store for their dance costumes.

 1. Clean it. Spot cleaning may be enough at some points during recital season, but it won’t do for long-term storage. Any stain or lingering body odor will only entrench and worsen with time. The trick with cleaning a dance costume is that different fabrics need to be handled differently. And of course, dance outfits with rhinestones or appliques have their own challenges.

While it takes the most time, it’s hard to go wrong with gently hand-washing the garment in mild or cold water using a mild detergent. If you want to machine wash a costume, first do your research to find out what temperatures and detergents are safe. Never dry clean your dance costumes as the chemical processes are too harsh.

2. Dry it. Even the slightest bit of moisture will turn to mold or mildew and ruin your costume. It must be 100%, bone dry before it gets stored. First, press out the excess water between bath towels; don’t wring it out. Then you can hang it to dry — and don’t forget — no wire hangers or you’ll get rust stains! If it’s a very heavy costume dry it flat on a sweater drying rack so it doesn’t stretch out.

3. Steam out any wrinkles. Is this step strictly necessary? No, but it’s a good one because the longer wrinkles stay put, the harder they are to get out later. Steam them out; don’t iron. Then make sure to let it dry!!

4. Wrap the costume in a protective layer. You always want to put the outfit under a breathable cover, so it doesn’t gather dust. If you’re hanging the dance costume, a cloth garment bag works well. Don’t use a plastic garment bag as that will trap air, which will turn into moisture over time. Pure cotton or muslin is best. If buying lots of muslin garment bags gets pricey, purchase muslin pillowcases Simply remove enough stitches or cut out a hole on the closed end for the hanger head to go through. Padded or wood hangers are best. If you use plastic, make sure it doesn’t have seams on it which can tear at the fabric.

If you’re storing the dance costume in a box wrap it in acid-free tissue, which you can find at any office supply store or big box store. Check the size of the tissue so you buy enough to be sure it completely wraps around the costume.

As with drying, it’s best to store a heavier costume flat so it keeps its size and shape (it won’t stretch). Whether hanging or lying flat, try not to fold the costume in any way. The creases won’t be pretty.

5. Store it. You want to store it in a dark, dry place. Most closets are designed to be just such spaces. Ideally, place the dance costumes in areas of the closet where they aren’t going to get moved around a lot.

Storage bonus tip: Don’t overlook the shoes! Spot wash and dry. Use shoe shapers, so they keep their shape. Dance stores have plenty of options. If you’re feeling old school, you can probably find some lambswool somewhere. Store in a shoe box.

Going the extra step for your parents

If you’re going to prepare a dance costume storage tip sheet for the parents in your community, share it with customized dance labels for their kids’ costumes. These are the little details that can set your dance studio apart.

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