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.

019 (2)
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.

017 (2)
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.


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.

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