Pink/Gold shot organza tutu

Here is another pale coloured tutu to prove to myself I can work in subdued tones. This one is ivory satin with an overlay of pink/gold shot organza. I’ve just finished the decorations on the bodice.

a pair of  bodies

Bias cut panels will shimmer differently

The word bodice comes from the concept of a “pair of bodies” and here you can see that pair.

Lovely Ulster lace

Lovely hand-dyed Ulster lace.

gimp or gold and ivory braid

Should I go with this braid?

Absolute indecision

Or get lost on the confusion of my trims stash?

It took a while to decide on what I needed to get the look of textural confectionery I was after. The laces and braids on the side gave a lovely background but I was still stuck on how to embellish the all important centre front. I eventually remembered I had a bit of French lace stashed away that I hoped was the right pink. I snipped out a few little small bead and sequin pieces and placed these at the top of the pink embroidered applique I had in mind. All the pinks work so well together.

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Side of bodice showing Ulster lace and braids

And this is what I came up with. I’ve also adorned it with Preciosa rhinestones; ss30 Rose AB and ss20 crystal AB, ans some sweet little cup shaped sequins in pearlised white.


textured confectionery

Now for the skirt. I’ll use 9 layers of stiff ballet net and scallop the edges which will suit this fairy-tale style of tutu.


Net cut and scalloped

It makes it easier to sew the ruffles on if the sewing lines are marked, especially in such a little tutu where the distance between the layers over the hips is extremely narrow.


Lines are marked with different coloured thread

The magical part of the tutu is going from the dandelion puffball of netting sewn to the panty to the tamed flat tutu skirt that is so recognisable. The tutu layers are tamed but attaching layers to one another in such a way that they all pull together into a flat shape. For traditional tutus I will hand tack using individual knots. It’s time consuming but there’s a meditative quality about the work.


et voila! A tutu skirt!

The last stage is the skirt decoration which will imitate the bodice decoration. I have 4 large petals and 4 smaller ones to go in between. I think I’ll add the beaded french lace as I have a wee bit left.


final placement before sewing together


The braid and trim add nice definition to the bodice lines


The petals mimic the bodice design


I was aiming for “pretty”


Bodice decoration of french lace, Ulster lace, Czech rhinestones, embroidered applique and braid

Ivory Traditional Tutu

I’ve had a lovely piece of ivory delustred satin in my stash for a while now so finally decided I would make it up into a tutu … well actually 2 tutus; one in the plain satin and the other in satin with an overlay of pink and gold shot organza that was left over from another project. This post is just about the ivory tutu.

I’ve made lots of stretch tutus for young dancers but I thought I would try out a pattern I have for a girls’ size 10 traditional tutu. There’s obviously no need for spiral boning in a girl’s tutu except for a piece of flat boning in the centre front panel to keep the point of the bodice neatly tucked down. It’s removable anyway so it’s up to the dancer whether it stays in or not.

I’ve finished the bodice and basque but haven’t yet decided on the decoration yet. I’m thinking about just keeping it a textural design in ivory with perhaps some beading or rhinestones. I have a lovely large venise lace “collar” (can’t imagine an outfit with such a collar) that would actually sit rather beautifully on the top of the skirt with the excess decorating the bodice. This is still a work in progress and I will leave it for a week while I finish my daughter’s Year 12 Formal dress. The tutu skirt will be ivory but I might sneak a little bit of apricot or champagne coloured net in there.

Bodice and basque

Bodice and basque ready to be sewn together

I love the look of piped edes on traditional tutus. One day my OCD streak will get the better of me and I will work out a way of putting them onto my stretch tutus!

Suzanne's lines

This lovely pattern comes from “Tutus that Dance” by Suzanne Dieckman.

These patterns go together so beautifully and have beautiful line. I’m a self taught costumier and a good pattern is a wonderful confidence boost to reinforce … Yes Barbara you can do anything!

The point of the bodice site just on the piped edge of the basque

The point of the bodice site just on the piped edge of the basque

The mannequin is a little small for the bodice. I’m not sure how I will decorate this but I will start with some venise lace and see where I go from there.

venise lace 2

Ivory venise lace over ivory satin

The panty has been sewn to mark out the attachment for the layers of netting. There’s not much room of the hip to squeeze in 10 layers so the lines help me from going astray.


ready for gathered net

I have finally decided how to decorate this little tutu after seeing the beautiful work of Louisa Ruthven. I’m usually not a fan of sequins but when they are richly encrusted as an embellishment I think they are beautiful. This bit if hand beading took a while but was better and cheaper than therapy. I’m very pleased with the result but will leave it for a couple days before I decide if I’m done.


Pretty encrusting of sequins, bugles and seed beads

The basque is sewn on after the top 2 layers of net have been attached. The top two layers have their seam allowances pointing up. Thereafter, the seam allowances point downwards.

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basque sewn onto top of panty

 The Petersham ribbon has been sewn on as a waistband and elastic has been added to attach the bodice to the basque at the centre. I don’t sew down the point.

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steamed untacked skirt

I like to steam the layers before I tack the skirt. It helps give the right shape to the skirt.

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simple elegance

The beautiful lines of Suzanne Dieckmann’s pattern don’t need much adornment.

Not a dancing costume …

I do Irish Dancing with Angelica (who is a brilliant dancer!) and made her an ID dress. I was very happy to agree to making her dress for her Year 12 Formal. The corset has been recycled from a film costume I made and Angelica requested a pink and blue skirt to go with it. Here’s what we came up with. I’ve already posted this on my FB page but it was so well received I thought I might show it here as well.


Wee Blue tutu at first Eisteddfod

I made a pretty little blue tutu in July for a young ballerina’s first foray into dance competitions. Over the last weekend our little 7 year old has received a first and a second place. Both competition adjudicators commented on the beautiful tutu! I’m feeling very pleased for the little dancer and very happy to have played a tiny part in her success!


Adjudicator’s report for Second place

Giselle first place!

First place!

Giselle Finished

My Giselle romantic tutu is now finished and ready to go into my OTR folder. The shoulder straps will be tweaked to fit the owner with the option of some sneaky elastic at the should seam for a bit more movement if needed. The skirt has 4 layers of tulle, the top 2 bridal tulle and the 2 layers underneath a soft pastel blue. You can see flashes of blue as the skirt moves. I was pleased with the organza ribbon on the skirt as it lends a light touch. The final decoration choice was a last minute delve into my box of ribbon flowers and these pretty little carnations are perfect. I think they give a feeling of innocent village girl.

My next jobs are unrelated to ballet … a formal dress for my daughter who is about to finish high school and a fun new skirt to go with the pink barmaid corset that is being given a new lease of life.

bodice and chemise

I decided that linear trim wasn’t the look I was after

Bodice detail

Carnations and brass ribbon guides


Pretty little peasant bodice

Romantic tutu



Giselle Romantic tutu – next stages

The bodice is almost finished, I’m just at the torturous stage of finalising the trimming so I’ve started putting the skirt together as a diversion. Noting like metres and metres of clouds of white tulle to inspire creative thoughts. I need something in my head while I gather otherwise I’d go mad. The bodice has been piped around all edges with blue satin to give a neat crisp edge. I don’t want a frilly Giselle. The photos below show the key construction steps. I’m in a quandary now as to how to decorate this? I am leaning towards minimalist but will definitely keep the brass ribbon loops. I think the  dirndl approach gives a grounded village girl look rather than a fairy tale effect.

last bit of piping

Piping is wide so it can act as a self facing too

front insert

Boning casing attached to the back of the front insert for spring steel boning

inside bodice 2

There’s a lot going on back here … boning casing for spiral steels added to bust seams

bodice with insert attached 2

Bodice with insert attached. I’ve gathered it so it looks more like a chemise.

playing with trim

Definitely will keep the brass fittings

Giselle skirt

… and the skirt …

Bollywood at the Gym

So far away from tutus but great fun. Here is an adult jazz costume for the performance section of the Australian Natural Body Building Competition. We wanted something sparkly and somewhere between Bollywood and the gym and we came up with this. We’ve used a bra for the foundation of the top for extra security. We also managed to secure the last metre that my regular supplier had of this great fabric !


Adult performance costume

Costume has matching dance pants sewn in

Costume skirt has matching dance pants sewn in

Love this fabric!

The gold sequins on the fabric are holographic and sparkle with the slightest movement. I want to use this fabric again!

Giselle Romantic Tutu

I’m trying a new pattern for the bodice of this romantic tutu, it’s another lovely pattern from Suzanne Dieckmann. It will be a faux corset top with lacing across the front. Decoration will be a work in progress. Skirt will be white tulle and baby blue dress net.

starting out

tools of the trade

Bodice pieces

Bodice pieces are all interlined with heavy cotton drill

centre and side back

Underside of centre back and side back showing drill interlining

centre and side front

Centre and side front will have spiral boning along bust seam

piping (2)

Wide piping can be used as a self facing


I love a piped bodice edge

Blue thought bubbles

I make tutus and dance costumes for people all over Australia which means the fun of tearing through my stash of laces, trims and fabrics sometimes has to be done remotely. This morning I had great fun (and perhaps my client has had some vicarious fun) turning the studio upside down brainstorming a new blue tutu. I sneaked some purple and turquoise in too.

Pretty remnant piece of lace from Recherche Fabrics

Pretty remnant piece of lace from Recherche Fabrics


This unusual lace is turquoise with pink embroidery and turquoise sequins


Turquoise net with beautiful bronze sequins


Lovely royal blue velvet, silver venise lace and blue net overlay


Gold corded lace and sky blue velvet


Purple velvet, lilac lace and silver venise lace


Hand-beaded green embroidered net over turquoise lycra


Purple velvet and gold embeliishment