Lilac and Blue Romantic Tutu

Romantic tutus are lovely soft floaty confections. Generally they are made for Giselle and Swanhilda variations. Occasionally, however a request arrives for a romantic tutu that takes advantage of all those swishing layers of tulle. Multicoloured skirts in a romantic tutu have a gorgeous life of their own creating beautiful washes of colour.

starting point

blue-mauve shot dupioni for the bodice

Once we’d decided on the blur-mauve shot dupioni for the bodice the rest of the colours fell naturally into place. The precise shades of tulle weren’t available do I got out my dye pots and started dyeing!

top tulle layers (424x640)

top tulle layers

The skirt has 4 layers. the top 2 are tulle and the colour statement needs to be made clearly here. The next 2 layers are dress net which is soft but still with a little body. I discovered by accident a few years ago that nylon net from Thailand softens dramatically with dyeing or washing which makes it utterly useless for classical tutus but perfect for romantics< for this tutu I dyed it pale lilac.  The bottom layer was American diamond hole net which has perfect body for the lowest layer of a romantic tutu.

pinning on bottom layer (640x424)

American diamond hole net for bottom layer

The basque is similar to the basque on a traditional tutu but the net is attached from the waist and then in 2.5cm intervals below that. Each layer is therefore 2.5cm longer than the one below it so that all layers are the same height from the floor.

layers (640x424)

skirt layers

Once the skirt was complete I put the bodice together from some lovely blue and mauve shot dupioni silk. Silk is beautiful to sew with. In the picture you can see the silk bodice pieces serge lined to cotton drill.

bodice pieces (640x424)

bodice pieces

The top and bottom edges of the bodice are piped for a nice finish. There is spring steel in the centre front, and spiral steel boning in the bust seams and side seams.

placement (640x424)

starting to play around with flowers

The flowers were a lovely mixture of mauves and blues. Silk flowers from craft shops are perfect for this and they dye beautifully. I mixed some ribbon roses and ribbon carnations in there too.

bodice CU (640x424)

hand beading

I added some beading and sequins as well. I think they look like dew drops.

et voila  (424x640)

I think she’s really pretty!




Mint, White with Pearls

Mint is a very pretty colour for a tutu. We matched it with embroidered organza appliques and pearls.

starting point (640x424)

appliques and bodice fabric

While a white skirt would perfectly complement the bodice we decided to add a a layer of mint net in at ruffle 3 to give the skirt an eau de nil colour.

1 green row (640x424)

the mint ruffle gives the white skirt a delicate colour

Once the leotard was finished I decorated the bodice stretched over a body board. This is important as the appliques are non-stretch. They are sewn on by hand with firmly but not tight.

decorating bodice (640x424)

applique placement

The next step was sewing on the net layers and tacking the skirt and then making the plate.

plate pinned (640x424)

pinning the appliques to the plate

The appliques have a lovely irregular border so after I sewed the appliques to the plate I trimmed the lycra as close as I could to emphasize the edge.

trimmed (640x424)

trimmed plate edge

The trimmed edge looked so pretty against the pale eau de nil of the skirt.

side (424x640)

plate detail

The tutu has a very pretty delicate look and the young dancer and her mum were very happy with it.

front (2) (640x424)

finished tutu











Waltz Tap

My client wanted a Waltz Tap costume with an Irish green theme that would pop on stage, so we chose a lycra mystique for a bit of shine, heavy gold embellishment and a serious encrusting of rhinestones. This is the concept design I worked up.

concept sketch

concept sketch

My client wanted the deep V on the front and nude mesh down into the sleeves. There are lots of costumes with nude mesh across the shoulders but I wanted to make it a little different so I made a completely nude back and brought the nude mesh around the back of the arms as well.

pattern drafting (640x424)

pattern development

Stretch fabrics are very forgiving and you are really only limited by your imagination. I wanted some nice curves in the cutaway sections so played around until I achieved something I liked.

piecing together (640x424)

playing with trim

I played around with the trim to see how it worked with the shapes I had created. The trim was fairly rigid so I wanted to be sure it would fit before I sewed it all together.

bling time (640x424)

blinging trim

Then it was time to bling.

handsewing trim (640x424)

handsewing trim

For some extra sparkle we used holographic nude mesh.

Dyeing (424x640)

dyeing stretch mesh

Waltz tap costumes often have long skirts. I like to use stretch mesh for skirts because it has a great drape, doesn’t need hemming and dyes beautifully.

full back (424x640)

lovely drape

and then it was time to bling up the bodice. I used a mixture of crystal and acrylic rhinestones in different colours and sizes to give some interest.

front CU  (424x640)

textural sparkle

The effect was really quite lovely and I was very happy with the finished design.

three quarter profile (424x640)

front showing arm cutaways


front (424x640)

et voila




and of course there’s a little head-dress to match!


trim added (640x424)