A client and her daughter sent me a picture of a tutu they had been hiring for 2 years but was now too small. They both loved the tutu and the dancer had received many compliments wearing it. At first they requested I copy it but I demurred. Although imitation may be the highest form of flattery I think artisans should respect their peers and simply be inspired by designs not copy them. So we talked through some ideas and turned the studio upside down looking at trims and decided on navy stretch velvet, spun silver appliqués and a cluster of blue and AB crystals.
We decided on a plate covering 2/3 of the skirt with the floral sprays encircling the the skirt and a little of the appliqué on the bodice. This was going to be a bit tricky because the sprays did not come in pairs so the bodice design would not be symmetrical. But there are ways around this when you are a determined tutuist! To start I just blinged up the appliqués to get to know them a bit better.
Then I started looking at how to turn this one-sided appliqué into a bodice decoration with a semblance of bilateral symmetry. I had to take to the appliqué with scissors to get what I wanted. Here are some shots of steps towards the final version.
And now for the skirt …
The original tutu had a navy blue skirt in a shade of net I had never seen. I tried to dye some net but came away with a lovely jacaranda colour to be filed away for another day. The next best was to order some navy net online. It arrived and the colour was almost right but the main issue was that it was quite soft. I now had no option but to alternate it with a stiffer net so I used black. The 2 colours together gave a pretty good match to the original and a bit more interest to the skirt without being a distraction.
The original tutu was a very flat pancake tutu that some people (not me … ahem) refer to pejoratively as “flying saucers”. As the Ballet School principal favoured this type but my client liked my relatively “fluffy” tutus we compromised on a flat fluffy that was steamed 3 times and tacked tightly. It isn’t parallel with the floor, doesn’t show as much derrière as a flat tutu but it should pass muster. I’m not a fan of alien space craft as dance costumes unless there’s a good reason! You can see the tutu skirt in the background. It’s less fluffy than my usual tutus but still has a lovely slope on it.
The fun part is decorating the plate. I had already blinged up the appliqués and finished the bodice decoration so putting the plate together was a lovely finish. Then out into a break in Sydney’s welcome wet weather for a quick photo.