I haven’t made a bell tutu for a while so it was lovely to get a request for one. They are made in a similar way to classical tutus but the layers are about 5-6cm longer, made with softer net and tacked more loosely so the layers float up and down a little. My client liked a Bolshoi tutu she has seen so we used that for inspiration. Here are our starting points.
For stretch tutus I use a brilliant pattern developed by my friend and fellow tutu-maker Danielle Legge of Tutus by Dani. I transformed the pattern from a faux basque bodice to a Russian bodice and put a faux laced corset panel into it. The lacing is made from narrow strips of black lycra cut with a rotary cutter for nice smooth even lines. I just zigzagged them into place.
The tutu skirt has 7 layers of net alternating between tulle and stiff ballet net. It is loosely tacked with 25mm gun tacks to give a soft flowing effect to the skirt but still keeping the layers attached to one another.
The skirt decoration was a flat net plate decoration with 3 concentric rings of gathered lace. Because I was using lace fabric and not wide lace trim I finished the cut edge of the lace with narrow black venise lace.
For the very top layer I mounted the lace on a narrow band of black tulle for a neat finish as this will be seen. I did eventually cover it with a bit of pineapple lace but I could have just neatly folded it under and stitched it down.
Here is the plate with all the layers pinned placed over the skirt to see if there needs to be any last minute tweaking. The layers were then sewn down and the red pineapple lace trim applied so it just peeked out from under each layer. Excuse the terrible blue nail polish! I had been painting white gun tags to match the blue/green net of the sea witch tutu and I got carried away!
The tiered ruffles need to be controlled a little so I just tacked them down from underneath the plate with my tagging guns and some lovely fine gun tags a recently found. Thanks to Karen Jackson for this fantastic technique of attaching and catching things!
Instead of the sleeves just starting at the shoulder, I’ve brought them around to the front and popped a rosette on the bodice as a focal point to break up the black of the sleeves.
And brought them across to the centre back. I guess they are more of an off the shoulder flounce than sleeves.