Aqua and Sea Green Tutu

A client fell in love with a beautiful French lace that I had in my stash so we decided to build a tutu around it. The lace is a beautiful sea green colour but when we teamed it with a matching bodice fabric it lost its pop. The colours of stage costumes need to stand up against strong stage lighting, so we were brave and teamed it with a bright aqua velvet. I’ve documented most of the steps in making this tutu as the young dancer wanted a pictorial diary. here’s what I sent her.

Consultations for a remote client often start with photos of fabrics and trim. I teamed the French lace with a few fabrics but this one bright aqua really seemed to work. A handful of diamantes and silver trimmings completed the concept.

colour scheme ideas
lace and bodice colour matched
Bodice colour blue against green lace

Either colour scheme would have worked well but the aqua with the sea green spoke to the client (and I was really pleased it did). The green lace would be gathered over a white skirt so the background green of the net would become clear on the tutu. So we agreed on the design and colours and made a start. Stretch tutus are great for remote clients as there is a bit more latitude in fit but still achieving the “second skin” look that ballet dancers wants from a tutu.

2. meet Abby
Meet my dancer!

I usually line my tutu bodices although it’s not really necessary for stretch velvet as it’s opaque.  However, for adolescents I’ll always line the bodice for added confidence. The velvet has been serge-lined with thin lycra that has the same level of stretch as the velvet.

3. lining the pieces
lined side bodice pieces

This tutu will have a white skirt so it needs white pants. The lining extends from the bodice and faux basque to make a one layer panty. The line of tacking stitches is the placement for the first row of tutu ruffles

Leotard sewn together ready for netting.

The next stage is sewing on 8-10 layers of gathered stiff ballet net in layers of decreasing length. The fastest and most accurate way to do this is with a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat.

8. Cutting the net
Cutting the net

Netting layers can either have a straight edge or have cut edges like scallops or points (dags). Tutus that represent birds often have dagged net edges while princesses will have scalloped edges.

9. Scalloping the net
Scalloped net
005 (4)

Then the net is rolled up and labelled ready to gather and the it’s time sew onto the waiting leotard. The first layer is not too hard but as you sew more layers on the giant puff-ball threatens to eat your sewing machine.

10. Net bundles lining up
net bundled up and labelled
016 (5)
untamed net

To tame the net once it’s sewn on the layers are steamed into a pleasing shape and then tacked by hand or using plastic gun tacks like the ones you find on clothing price tags.

011 (2)
Skirt steamed and tacked

The lace was gathered and sewn to the top layers of the skirt. The scalloped edge was perfect for the bodice decoration but with a little bit of extra detail added to highlight the shape.

007 (2)
extra beads on the French lace
beautiful French lace

Sometimes I will decorate the leotard before I attach the ruffles but in this case I wanted to see how the skirt looked before I decided on the bodice decoration … oh and I made a little tiara too with blue and green Czech crystals.

010 (3)

and finally the completed tutu

012 (2)
finished tutu

Published by barbarasanders2077

I am a costumier living and working in Sydney's leafy upper North Shore. I specialise in dance costumes (particularly classical ballet tutus) but I also love the challenges presented by stage and film costuming and am always looking for new costume genres to explore.

One thought on “Aqua and Sea Green Tutu

  1. Couldn’t be more happy with the process of working with you. We didn’t have any idea of what we wanted but knew what we liked so just kept tagging colors and styles and Barbara came up with this beautiful design for us. We fell in love with the lace from a photo and then built from there. No question was ever a problem and we would highly recommend you (and already have). We are now in the process of coming up with a 2nd design for a Winter theme tutu

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