Cosette Demi-character costume

I’ve spent the last few weeks making costumes for the local Musical Society. I do love making stage costumes. Demi-character costumes are a lovely mix of stagewear and dancewear. The character has to be self-evident but it cannot overshadow the choreography or the dancer. This costume is meant to evoke the feeling of poor mistreated Cosette before Jean Valjean rescues her from the Thenardiers.

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simple colours with a little texture

We chose dark browns for the bodice and the skirt and ivory for the chemise and petticoat. The bodice fabric has a light gold thread through it. It gives no sparkle but from gives a little texture to an otherwise flat colour. The skirt fabric is just broadcloth.

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Suzanne’s Dieckmann’s peasant bodice

This bodice joins at the shoulder and allows a faux chemise and sleeve to be easily added. They could be removed to give the costume a different look.

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distressing the lace

I don’t like ragged hems to just be cut into triangles or dags. I try to make them look like they have been made ragged through wear. Scissors are my first attack, then I rub the fabric together and then run it underfoot on concrete!

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pinning in faux chemise

I have piped the bodice with black broadcloth. The chemise was then sewn in the ditch to the bodice.

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I love the lines on this bodice

The broadcloth lent itself so well to my distressing techniques. There are 2 layers of brown broadcloth mounted on a basque like a romantic tutu. The ragged petticoat underneath adds definition to the skirt line. The ragged lace is mounted on a muslin petticoat and then sewn to the bottom of the basque.

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skirt hem

The sleeves are loose to the elbow and have the ragged lace attached.

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faux chemise

And here is the costume all put together! This costume could also work for a Cinderella or Little Match Girl demi. With a romantic skirt added and different sleeves she could even be Giselle!

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Ivory, Apricot and Pink Traditional Tutu

This last half of the tutu year has been pink! This lovely tutu has a slight twist with the introduction of some apricot to warm up the pink a little. The bodice fabric is a lovely crisp Thai silk.

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Thai silk, embroidered net and apricot rhinestones

I’ve used Suzanne Dieckmann’s girls tutu bodice 3102.  I pin my patterns to my cardboard grid so I don’t get any distortion when cutting.

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cutting out

I started blinging up the embroidered net first so the glue could dry while I was making up the bodice and cutting the net.

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apricot, pink and AB crystall rhinestones

My client wanted a bit of subtle gold on the bodice so she suggested piping the bodice seams. The lovely lines of this design are so clear. The top and bottom of the bodice were piped in the ivory silk. The basque was piped in the gold for continuity

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Piped bodice seams

Because this is a child’s bodice I have only boned the front seam. I like to use spring steel for this. I cut a piece to size, file down the corners so it won’t puncture the boning casing and dip it into tipping fluid.

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tipping the spring steel bone

Next step was to sew on the bodice decoration. I’m really getting the hang of taking trim that has no mirror image and tricking the eye into believing it has.

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pretty pinks and apricots

The skirt is all ivory except for a blush of apricot in layer 3. While the apricot colour is quite strong and very clearly not pink it is beautifully diluted by the ivory net to give a soft blush to the skirt. look at the photos following to see how it quietly blends with the ivory.

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ready for tacking


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apricot and ivory peony

tulle ruffles

ruffles 9 and 10 are soft ivory tulle

My first attempt at the plate used 6 large pink appliques. I sewed them to ivory net and then clipped around them. I wasn’t happy with this placement. I thought the design was too sparse.

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6 pointed decoration





I found 2 more appliques, blinged them up and had to wait a few hours for them to dry before I could have a play and see how the plate looked with 8 points. I was much happier with this design. For this design I left the net plate covering the skirt and trimmed the edge into scallops to blend with the skirt layers.

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8 pointed decoration

And here is the finished tutu with apricot and pink sitting happily side by side.

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apricot and pink happy together

The skirt has a lovely soft blush of apricot from above and a flash of stronger apricot underneath.

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apricot 3rd layer just peeking through

I think I’ll try a bit more piping in future

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Fairy Doll variation tutu

I seem to be living in a cloud of pink and white lately. I’m not really a pink person so I called on my inner princess to help with this one for YAGP in January. In this Fairy Doll tutu I’ve used 3 quite different pinks; salmon pink, soft baby pink and bright pink. Well perhaps there are four as the salmon dupioni is shot and has two colours depending on how you view it. We started with a few ideas that grew and changed.

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starting point

Many Fairy Doll tutus have exaggerated decorations and big puffy sleeves but we decided to keep things relatively low key and just focus on colour and sparkle, but not forgetting the obligatory bows! I made these in bright pink so they would be a focal point of the design.

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initial concept sketch

To avoid a pink overdose I decided on a crisp white skirt but with a layer of pink to give the skirt a soft pink blush. The edges of the net was scalloped. I don’t use a template for this because … well, life is too short. I just fold the net 3 or 4 times, secure with a large quilting pin and cut through all layers with shears. As I tack the skirt I will trim up the occasional wonky scallop. I’m most careful, of course, with the top layer of net as it is most visible.

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scalloped layers

I sew the top 2 layers on seam allowance upwards. This means putting layer 2 on first. Here you can see pink layer 2.

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layer 2

Here you can see my 3 pinks in the bodice. The bright pink really pops as the corset lacing. The centre side panels are embroidered taffeta with a few sequins. They show up orange here but are much more subtle than that. I’ve used the ruched bodice effect again here. It’s one of my favourite styles.

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putting the faux corset lacing on

The plate is made up of 12 petals, 6 in the salmon silk and 6 in the embroidered taffeta. Gold venise lace, white and gold braid and AB crystals rhinestones complete the picture.  Bright pink bows will adorn the junction of the petals.

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I have attached little puffed sleeves to the tutu. I threaded the elastic through a casing and sewed it securely to the front but have left is adjustable at the back for the dancer to make the final adjustment after she’s danced in it a little. Tutu bodices will stretch a little when warmed up and hooks and bars may need some final tweaking.

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elastic left for dancer’s adjustment

The bright pink really brings the decoration to life. You can see the dupioni shows up as 2 different colours here. I like daylight photos as they give a a bit of an idea of how the colours will change under stage lights.

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plate detail

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bodice detail

I think she is quite a sweet confection.

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Fairy Doll variation tutu