Bluebird Demi-character

While i seem to mostly be making tutus every now and again i get to do a lyrical costume or a demi-character costume. Demi-character is a wonderful combination of ballet technique and characterisation. This can be dramatic or funny or sometimes just darn cute here’s a costume for the latter category; a little bluebird.

starting point (640x424)

The “character” part of this dance form is firmly embedded in the choreography and the dancer’s ability to characterise. The costume is there for support. So with that in mind we decided that this costume only needed to evoke a bird. Feathers were the first idea we settled on and we thought we’d team it with a little upside down bell tutu with a bit of a tail. Here’s how we did it.

leo (424x640)
ballet leotard

I used Dani Legge’s tutu pattern for the leotard. I thought it was cute to bring the tutu back into demi-character. This leotard has a faux basque and lovely line.

clipped net (640x424)
clipped tulle

Bird tutus in classical ballet often have dagged nets (princesses have scallops!) so it made sense for this wee bird to have pointy tutu layers too. This tutu was made from sparkle tulle and bridal tulle so it’s very soft and floppy.

skirt ruffles (640x424)
skirt ruffles

I cut the layers longer at the back to give the idea of a bird’s tail. There are 4 layers of alternating sparkle and bridal tulle. Layer 1 was sewn seam allowance down and the remaining were sewn seam allowance up so the skirt would lie fairly flat.

skirt (640x424)
cute little tutu skirt

The top layer was a bit perky so i needed to tame it a bit. So out came my trusty tagging gun and some fantastic blue tags!

tagging (640x462)
the tutu-maker’s friend

I really just needed to hold the top layer down a bit so I placed tags through all layers quite close to the top of the skirt. Bell tutus have light tacking as well so it’s not surprising this little one needed a bit.

tagged skirt (640x424)
tags holding skirt nicely

The bodice decoration had to be feathers and Roisin chose the rhinestones she wanted; lovely AB garnet Preciosa rhinestones and a gorgeous sparkly acrylic focal piece. These rhinestones were repeated across other parts of the costume.


bodice deco (640x430)
bodice decoration

The last time I’d made a feathery costume I used a glue gun. You have to work fast but a quick drying glue is the best for this so the feathers don’t just waft all over the studio. To keep the ballet theme alive with avian cliches I made some blue hackle pads as a head-dress and repeated the skirt design for the arm frills.

hackle pads and arm frills (424x640)
hackle pads and arm frills

And here is the little blue bird in all her sparkly blue glory.

costume 2 (424x640)
little bird

I dipped the tulle layers down at the back to exaggerate the bird tail.

back detail (424x640)
back detail


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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