Concept designs for 2014

Here are three concept designs for tutus due in early 2014. One of them will have me hunting for fabric for a while but the other 2 will be made from my inventory; Lemon and Lime, Turquoise Sugar Plum and Midnight flowers.

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I think I’ve found some fabric in LA!

Midnight flowers was designed for a young dancer who has been wearing navy and silver tutu for the past couple of years and can’t step away from the colours because she loves them so much. Between us we came up with a softer design (the previous had been very geometric) that incorporated silver-white floral appliqués. The original skirt was also dark bue so I did the concept design with a lighter skirt to see what they thought. Here are the fabrics and the drawing.

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Same velvet as Neon and Navy tutu … love this colour

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The young dancer chose the rhinestones. Nice work.

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Turquoise and gold

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I’m going to enjoy this one!

6 thoughts on “Concept designs for 2014

  1. Simply Bree says:

    All of these tutu’s look and sound beautiful. The whole tutu making process is one of interest to me as I take a great interest in Ballet itself. Would you mind if I ask you a few general questions concerning tutu-making/and its relevance to you… to be published on one of my blogs ? Every Ballet piece that you have done has been amazing to me and I am just curious to how you have come to do the work you do and why you do what you do.

    • I’d be happy to answer a few questions! Thanks for asking!

      • Simply Bree says:

        Oh Thank You So Much for your willingness to answer my questions. I appreciate your time in doing so very much. Here are my questions:

        1. What made you want to “specialize” in tutu’s ? I noticed on your about page that you said you specialized in design/making solo tutu’s so I just wanted to know if there was a particular reason why you chose to specialize in tutu making.

        2. What part of the tutu-making process do you love the most ? Is it designing the tutu, seeing the finished result for yourself, seeing your clients in what you have made….etc?

        3. All of your tutu’s are intricate and of very high quality. On average, how much time does it take for you to make a tutu ?

        4. How did you progress to the skill and product that you have ? Did you obtain formal training, did you naturally have a great ability from the very beginning, etc ?

        5. In general, if a dancer/parents of a dancer are looking to purchase a classical tutu, what are some qualities that they should look for ? What makes a tutu one of high quality to you ?

        Thanks again 🙂

      • 1. Above all other costumes tutu says “dance” more than any other so making them has inherent attraction. A girl’s first tutu says she has progressed well enough in her classical training to represent her dance school. It’s a right of passage costume so is laden with mystique. When my daughter was told she could perform a ballet solo I was determined to make the tutu. I wanted to unlock the mystery. It was a huge struggle as it is a complicated costume and I’d never seen one up close before! After 6 months of trial and error I finished the tutu to be told to redo the skirt because I’d bought the wrong net! Back I went. Rather than being discouraged I was hooked. Talk to any tutu maker and they’ll tell you there is a pull these things have on you. The construction is a marvel! I’m still amazed at the beginning of a project that all that folded fabric will become a wonderfully 3-D costume. So there’s the left brain answer; I like the engineering side (I have a Bachelor of Science degree). But my right brain saw the unending possibilities of design! Finally, a chance to sew ruffles, encrust with beads, rework trim into a new form and have a reason to have a room full of fabric, trim and other pretties! But I didn’t want to just copy tutus that were already out there! Here was a chance to express my own ideas and secretly shift the pastel paradigm. From a pragmatic business point of view, tutu-making is a niche market that suits itself well to small business (hooray she says!).

        2. The best part I think is the design phase in consultation with the client. The studio goes into an uproar as mother, daughter and I delve into boxes of trim and lace and beads and eventually come up with a starting point. The next best part is having the undecorated tutu in front of me and starting the realisation of the design. This is the nuts and bolts end of design to make sure everything fits together aesthetically. Sometimes an element will be changed entirely because it doesn’t read well. I don’t mind the middle sections but putting ruffles onto the tutu can be maddening. I like to have 2 or 3 tutus on the go at once so I can swap between things in case the skirt construction starts to drive me mad!

        3. Stretch tutus take about 7 hours and Traditional tutus about 12. The more intricate designs will take a bit more time and sometime I have been guilty of “overcapitalising” a tutu just because I like the look of what I’m doing or because there is a therapeutic value in quietly beading some fabric. It’s cheaper than therapy and the clients are quite pleased they got a little extra for no cost. I think all good costumers and dress makers like to put a bit of their soul into their creations.

        4. I’ve always sewn clothes but for purely pragmatic reason because a million years ago when I was a university student clothes were expensive and it was much cheaper to make them. My self-taught methods were haphazard to say the least but it didn’t matter. I tried making a few pretty or unusual things but never really had the courage to step outside the fashion norms or bring attention to myself by what I was wearing. So my basic skills suited a need. Years later I started sewing again when I had my daughter. It was fun and I could make silly things in crazy colours. She eventually tired of my whimsy and demanded shop bought things but by that time I’d started making dance costumes for her dance school. Mostly stretch costumes but I longed to be asked to make some pretty floaty things! I never got my wish but I would take any opportunity I got to scrutinise costumes in the storage rooms to see how they were made. Eventually I had the chance to make a tutu for my daughter’s first solo. I had a year’s notice and I researched far and wide. At that time there were not many tutu pattern makers around. I struggled with the instructions, sought guidance on the internet through forums and blogs and eventually found a web community that helped me immensely as long as I had the courage to try and the common sense to do some research.

        Making dance costumes that have to fit well and allow dancers to move has focussed my sewing skills. Dance brought form and function together for me. In many ways dance costumes are engineered rather than sewn. So while they may look like bit of haute couture they are robust and fit for purpose. In many way I owe my improved sewing skills to a brilliant pattern maker, Suzanne Dieckmann. Her designs are elegant and look beautiful on the dancers but as well as that the patterns themselves are so well designed hey almost put themselves together. I have done 2 courses, one with Suzanne and another with Dani Legge (stretch tutus). Both are highly recommended.

        I sometimes wish I had formal training but experience has been a great teacher. That’s a crazy thing for me to say because I’m such a theoretical person. I’ve taken things slowly and methodically and had lots of “a-ha!” moments that have taught me a lot about general sewing as well.Oh yeah … and thank God for the Internet! Everything is there as long as you persevere and look for it!

        5. When looking for a tutu go in with eyes open. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by the process as it is very exciting. Look at as many of the tutu-makers tutus online as possible. Look at design balance, colour choice and construction. To me a high quality tutu is one that has been constructed with care from good materials. A stretch tutu should be constructed from nylon Lycra/Spandex or stretch velvet (pale colours should be lined). Stretch tutus generally don’t need back fastenings as the Lycra has enough give to be pulled on and certainly no zippers. If the skirt is not hooped the net should be very stiff English or Italian net otherwise it will flop. Most Australian tutus are made with Italian net. For traditional tutus it is important that the bodice and basque are lined with a stable fabric like heavy drill or coutil. The bodice needs to fit like a glove so be prepared for a few fittings. Boning in the bodice helps keep the bodice from moving around but some dancers find it restrictive. It’s always good that a skirt has a hoop casing so a hoop can be inserted easily at a later date if necessary

        there’s my stream of consciousness for you … let me know if I haven’t really answered your questions properly

      • Simply Bree says:

        Thank you very much for this wonnnnnderful response. Just reading your answers were quite exciting! Your dedication to make your daughter’s first tutu for her Ballet solo was inspiring. Your answers as a whole were enlightening into the tutu-making process. I can’t wait to share it with others 🙂 God Bless!

  2. My pleasure! Happy to collaborate on any other tutu articles in the future!

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