Jazz Costume

I made this little jazz costume for Emily in Dubbo. I’d already made her Lemon and Lime tutu and her Mum asked if I could whip up a jazz costume from my stash … OK, these fabrics leapt to mind and it was all go!


a fresh take on shorts and a crop top

The music is really perky and the clip had a sort of ’80s feel so I was happy going with crazy colours. The skirt fabric is really heavy so I gathered as much as I could to give the skirt lots of swing. I also brought it around the front a little because it gives a better balance to the fuchsia shorts.


criss-cross back

The back has a simple criss-cross. The straps are not sewn down yet as this is a “remote” costume so I leave straps to dance-mums and teachers to finish off. So there you go, not just tutus!

Mint and Gold Traditional Tutu

Sian and her Mum Carmel contacted me very early in the year to book a spot for a consultation. I love that sort of forward planning. It certainly helps me in this job! We went through a few colour schemes and had almost decided when Sian emerged from the stash with a pale mint brocade with soft gold threads through it. We matching this with a light gold venise lace trim. We toyed with the idea of a sparkle tulle under the ivory net.

mint and ivory

starting point

Sian wanted understated elegance with shimmer rather than bling so we decided on a simple bodice design but with a deep V nude insert.

bodice front

front point

To highlight the gold in the fabric the top of the bodice and the bottom of the basque were piped with gold but the bottom of the bodice is self-piped so there’s no interruption in line.


basque piped with gold

deep V

Deep V piped with gold

The venise lace needed only a little bit of sparkle so I added some ss20 AB coated pale green rhinestones. I will embellish this with a little bit of hand-sewing and beads and sequins later.

venise lace

venise lace

venise lace decoration

venise lace and hand beaded embellishment

Instead of a traditional plate they wanted little trapezoid petals they had seen on one of New Zealander Janice Barnden’s tutus. Janice makes beautiful tutus so do look out for Pas de Basque tutus. I fiddled with a shape and proportions for a while and found that 8 petals gave a nice balance.

skirt petals

paper petal template


petals aligned

They looked a bit lonely and sad so I jazzed them up with a little of the venise lace cut into small appliqués and given a bit more bling with some acrylic faceted and crystal rhinestones.


petal bling

Next came the skirt. In the picture below you can just see the hoop casing on row 4. While this tutu will not be hooped, if over time the net softens the tutu can be brought back to life by inserting a hoop, which is much easier to do if it already has a casing.

putting the skirt togther

row 4 going on

I hand tack traditional skirts but plastic gun tacks will do exactly the same job. I guess I just like keeping old skills alive.  There are many ways to tack a skirt but I prefer the fluidity you get from individual swing tacks around the tutu. I do 4 rows of swing tacks … you get faster at it! The floor of my studio is covered with little thread tails though after trimming each hand tied knot. I guess there must be about 60-80 per row.

tacking threads 2

tacking equipment and thread tails

Once the skirt is finished it’s time to put everything together. I hand basted the bodice to the basque and then sewed it doen by machine leaving the front point free. I placed the petals evenly around the basque and tacked them into place. I put the glimmer net under them to see how it looked and just lived with it for a couple of hours before I sewed it in place.


glimmer net or not?

Sydney’s weak autumn sun managed to make the glimmer net sparkle (when the sun emerged!) and I decided it could stay.

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glimmer net at home

I think the oversirt adds a subtle interest to the tutu skirt and brings out the gold colour. It will look pretty on stage because the under side still has the strong ivory colouring.

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lovely deep V

I’m rather taken with this understated tutu. The brocade is lovely and has the softest gold touches to it with fine gold lurex thread through it.


Hand beading

A tiny bit of hand-beading nicely extends the line of the venise lace and … it’s cheaper than therapy!


completed tutu

I loved making this tutu.


Apricot and Ivory Traditional tutu

Sydney is a big place and when people come all the way to see me from outside the metropolitan area for a tutu I’m pretty amazed at their dedication to their art. Recently I had 2 Mums, 2 dancers and a gaggle of young hangers-on visit me from Wollongong. They were Carmel and her daughter Sian and Sam and her daughter Emily. I’ve just finished Emily’s tutu and will start on Sian’s this afternoon … stay tuned for that one too!

Emily wanted a 2 coloured tutu with the top of the bodice in a light colour and the rest in  pastel. I let Emily go into my fabric stash to choose a main fabric. She came out with a beautiful apricot brocade which I teamed with a warm ivory Thai silk. Sam (I think) had already eyed off a textured ivory lace on the shelf and the 3 fabrics went together beautifully. How does that happen? These 3 fabrics had lived peacefully in my studio for some time and had never “met” one another. I was very pleased that Sam and Emily introduced them.

1. apricot and ivory (678x1024)

Brocade, silk and embroidered tulle lace

The first stage is cutting up the toile to create the corselet bodice AND adding the new seam allowance.

2. corselet bodice (1024x678)

toile cut into corselet and bodice

This went together beautifully. I think I’ll make this up again and let the lines shine through and not use trim. But the trim was beautiful when it went on.

3. bodice front (1024x678)

bodice lines

The lace is beautifully sculptural and I managed to put a tiny unobtrusive dart into it to make it curve around the bust. The next step was trying out placement of the venise lace.

11. pinning on venise lace (1024x678)

lace placement on bodice

Once the bodice was sorted out and decorated I started on the skirt. Rather than a solid ivory skirt I suggested some apricot layers. The apricot net I had in my stash had too much red in it so I hand-dyed some net with Dharma Trading Saffron Spice acid dye. It was a perfect warm apricot colour.

4. two layers of apricot (1024x678)

steamed skirt layers

I initially thought layer 2 and 4 could be apricot but the colour was too strong so i just left it at layer 2 and the apricot peeking through was lovely and soft.

6. layer 3 (1024x678)

layers 1,2 and 3

With each layer the decision to add just one layer of apricot was clearly to right one.

7. apricot layer in skirt (1024x678)

lovely soft apricot and ivory colours

The skirt plate needs to tie in the decoration on the bodice so I repeated the venise lace on the plate. We decided inverted scallops would suit the lace best. To extend the lace along the points I cut a small heart shape out, turned it upside down and added one of the little leaf.

12. rearranging trim (1024x678) (2)

rearranged venise lace

I blinged up the venise lace before it was hand sewn to the skirt before the bodice and basque were sewn on.

10. skirt plate (1024x678)

skirt plate


The tutu came together beautifully. There are also little lace arm frills as well but they are so hard to photograph!

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bodice detail

14. Skirt (1024x678)

finished skirt

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finished tutu