Miettes Qui Tombent

Miette is one of Sleeping Beauty’s fairies. The name means ‘falling breadcrumbs’ and comes from an old Russian tradition that spreading breadcrumbs on a girl’s cradle will bring her children when she marries. White is appropriate for this tutu but as it will be on its way to the Prix de Lausanne 2015 we thought a “special” white fabric would be a good choice.

embroidered tafetta (640x424)

Embroidered Taffeta

I cut the pattern pieces and serge lined them to a strong backing fabric. there was a lot of “de-beading” required to get these pieces under the presser foot. I also had to find areas of the fabric to take the bias trip from for the piping. I love the look of a piped bodice.

very CU bodice beading (640x424)

bodice detail

Even though this is just a plain tutu, Olivia wanted something a little special on the bodice just for her so I did a bit of therapeutic hand beading. Although this can’t be seen from the audience it adds texture and I’m sure it delights Liv.



attaching bodice to basque (640x424)

bodice pinned to basque

As you can see I have my coloured pins ready for this job with my white pins outs of harm’s way! The basque and bodice can either hand sewn or machine sewn together. Due to the beading and sequinning on the fabric I though hand sewing would be the best option! I also sewed the basque to the tutu skirt by hand in this case.

handsewing bodice to basque (640x424)

handsewing bodice to basque 

I don’t sew the bodice all the way around but leave the point free. I attached elastic stays from the centre panel to the waistband to allow a little bit of movement for deep back bends.

internal elastic stays (640x424)

internal elastic stays

The centre front seam is boned with spring steel. This keeps the point firm and only allows movement backwards and forwards. In the photo below the steel has been cut. The bottom one has been filed down a little to remove the sharp edges that can work their way through the boning casing. After this I dip the ends in a plasticiser that creates a much softer edge and stops rusting.

flat steel (640x424)

spring or flat steel

The bust seams (and sometimes the side seams) are subject to more varied movement than the centre front seam so they boned with spiral steel that allows movement from side to side as well as back and front. For the nerdy science types out there (that’s me!) spiral steel is, in fact a flattened double helix.

roll of spiral steel (640x424)

Roll of spiral steel

The ends have four sharp points so they need more than filing and a bit of plastic. I think the hardest part of boning a bodice is getting these little aluminium caps on.

spiral steel (640x424)

capped spiral steel

Bodice complete now it’s fun time with the skirt. I used a mixture of ivory, cream and white net in the skirt. Even a plain ivory skirt needs a bit of life!

ready for tacking (640x424)

steamed and ready for tacking

Tacking starts at the bottom with the first three layers tacked every 5 cm or so with an individual loop or gun tack. Then the next 2 layers are dropped down and they are tacked together into the top layer of the first three tacked layers. This is continued to the top. It means the layers are all working with each other as well as within their own little groups and creates a live skirt. There are lots of other ways to tack that will result in different styles of skirt.

first three layers for tacking (424x640)

elastic holding untacked layers

We decided on a just a small hip plate to keep the decoration minimal. I used the motifs in the fabric for each of the 6 petals.

plate petals (640x424)

plate petals

And then I finished them neatly with self piping. there were no mirror images in the fabric but the design is elaborate enough to compensate for the lack of symmetry.

plate petlas piped (640x424)

piping adds a lovely finish

I added the petals to the top of the skirt and then added the basque as I wanted to feature the piping on the basque.  Alternatively plate or petals can be added later which makes it easier to remove them if the tutu is to be “reinvented”.

petals attached (640x424)

petals attached

You see here the piping is clearly visible and adds to the finish of this simple elegant tutu.

best basque detail (640x424)

basque and plate detail

The beading brings in a little bit of pink and gold to the tutu.

best bodice detail (424x640)

bodice detail

Here is the completed tutu

front (640x424)

Miettes Qui Tombent 

… and of course a little coaching from her ballet mentor Lucinda Dunn before the trip to Switzerland

Olivia Betteridge with Lucinda Dunn















Baroque Aurora

It’s important in any field to keep refreshing skills and learning new ways to do things. To this end I spent a week in Victoria’s beautiful Woodend at a tutu seminar run by the wonderful teachers Helen Rodwell and Sylvia Heather of Sew Classical Tutus. I also stayed on for a couple of days to lend a hand to the very talented Dani Legge, who has been my tutu mentor for many years, while she ran her stretch tutu class.

Tutu classes are hectic. While you’re concentrating on your tutu you keep an ears and eyes open for what others are doing and drop everything to watch a demo; hence no progress shots with this one, just some pretty pictures.

three quarter profile (424x640)

the inner princess triumphs again!


As this was to be a ready to wear tutu I chose a design that would have wide appeal and could be used for a variety of variations or solo pieces. The 12 piece bodice has three colours, ivory silk centre panels, pale pink middle front panels and apricot brocade for the remaining 8 panels.

textural detail (424x640)

textural embellishment


I was keen to enjoy the embellishment on this tutu and did a lot of hand beading as well as cutting and rearranging venise lace appliques. There are about 4 different gold colours on this tutu but they have blended well. I was chasing a rich, ornamented baroque look with a strong textural focus.

bodice detail 2 (424x640)

pinks, golds, yellow and aurora borealis colours

The final touch was the brocade plate with a light gold lace overlay. Bright gold did not suit the overlay so I tried a beautiful coffee-gold venise lace I’d had stashed away. Being at tutu school meant I could traipse around the classroom asking for advice and comments! Thanks to everyone who helped me with the decisions!

plate detail 2 (640x424)

and another “gold” to add to the subtle depth of colour

I had a wonderful time at the tutu seminar; I worked hard, unpicked things, talked tutus, laughed, talked more about tutus and gushed at other folks’ beautiful creations. If you read my blog because you want to want hints on tutu, leave the pets, kids and spouses at home and do a course!


front (640x424)