Snow and Ice tutu

While I gaze out my window onto my lush garden after a typical Sydney thunderstorm it’s quite a feat to turn my thoughts to the icy blues and white of snow on the other side of the planet, but turn I must for my next tutu. I’ve told Leah that I will blog the construction of this tutu so she can follow it. Here is out starting point; icy blue lycra, silver venise lace, glimmer tulle and lots of blue rhinestones, sequins and beads!

a sparkly icescape

I like to cut out the bodice first so I can embellish it flat rather than hunching over the tutu skirt.

cutting out
Dani Legge’s pattern

I’ve made a small modification to this pattern. The skirt will be predominantly white so I want to make the pants white. At the top of the picture is the bodice back shortened to 1″ below the stitching line for the net. I will baste in white knickers at this point. The join is hidden deep within the 8 tutu layers.

lining (424x640)
lining the lycra pieces

I serge line all the pieces onto lightweight nylon lycra (Caress) liner from Eclipse textiles. I used to line with another layer of lycra but I find it too thick, especially since I have changed to the lovely Italian matt lycra which is just a bit thicker than the older shinier lycra. I cut around each of the pieces and then run them through the overlocker.

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inside back with label

The first pieces I sew together are the 2 backs … and only because I still get a thrill out o f sewing in my label!

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bling time

Because it takes about 24 hours for the glue to dry on rhinestones I decorate the bodice applique early. I work in the light-filled front of my studio and play around with all the pretty beads and rhinestones. It’s a tough job!

bodice applique placement (640x424)
bodice applique placement

When the glue has dried, I put the leotard onto a body board to stretch it out to its full dimension and then securely but not tightly sew on the applique and any beading.

dagging (640x424)
dagging the layers


While the glue is drying on the applique I cut and dag the net. I fold the net 4 times until it is about 10cm wide and cut through the layers all at once.

dags (640x424)


I end up with these little triangles all over the house. Today at dancing there was one stuck to my leggings! You can just see the sparkle of the glitter tulle that will be the top layer.

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layers of netting

I  sew the individual widths of net together into long continuous layers and then roll them up.

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gathering from a roll

I like to roll the net up so I don’t have billows of it around my feet. I also make sure it doesn’t just unroll and fall on the floor by making sure the leading edge is on the top of the roll not coming from underneath.

sleeves (640x424) (2)
flutter sleeves

This tutu will have soft little flutter sleeves. Elastic is threaded through the top and joined to the front and back of the bodice. The sleeves sit across the biceps and I’ll add a piece of narrow elastic to each one to hold them in place.

embellished sleeves (640x424)
embellished sleevesTomorrow is the BIG day for attachedd!

The next step is to attach the net layers. I’ll steam them all first to help tame them a bit. After the net is on and tacked then comes the plate!

glitter tulle layer (640x424)
glitter tulle layer

Because this is a snowy, icy character tutu I can be a bit more liberal with the glitter so the top ruffle is glimmer tulle. I would rarely put glitter or glimmer tulle on the top of a classical tutu, but perhaps in layer 2 to give a hint of sparkle throughout the skirt. This glimmer tulle is very soft but it won’t affect the tutu skirt itself as it is not really a construction layer.

puffball (424x640)
Blue netting at row 3 gives the white skirt a lovely icy quality

To tie in the bodice colour in with the skirt I added  layer of blue net at layer 3 (from the top). This gave the skirt an icy quality that a plain white skirt can’t give, especially if the stage lighting is warm.

glimmer tulle (640x424)
blue showing through glimmer net

Being an Australian I love snow … well the idea of snow. It’s a rare treat in Australia and to see any it’s a lonng drive to the ski fields and and a hefty slice out of your holiday funds. So I brought the snow to my place in temperate Sydney with this enormous snowflake.

applique placement 2 (640x424)
giant snowflake

Once it was centred I machine stitched it to the lycra then trimmed closely around the appliques. Once it was finished I blinged it up and left it to dry overnight.

Plate ready for attachment

A plate can be perfectly round but it is important that the centre of the plate is an ellipse to match the shape of the dancer. If it is a small plate I will match the outer perimeter of the plate with the centre hole. The bigger the plate the less this matters. The inner perimeter is clipped ready for attachment to the skirt.

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attaching plate

With the tutu on a mannequin I pinned the plate up out of the way and pinned the tabs onto the skirt all the way around close to the bodice. There will always be a tiny gap but you don’t see it from the audience’s perspective. Then it is simply a matter of a light backstitch through each tab into the top layer of the skirt.

plate and bodice decoration (424x640)
plate attached

With this method the plate sits quite flat and suits the style of this tutu. A very ligtly gathered plate also looks lovely. The edge of the plate was sewn directly to the skirt with a light backstitch in silver metallic thread to match the applique.

plate detail 2 (424x640)
plate detail

You can see the lycra has been trimmed to just inside the border of the applique. I chose rhinestones in crystal AB and blue/green tones to highlight the icy feeling.

Icy tutu in my hot summery back garden












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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