Black Velvet and Ivory

People often ask how I find my fabrics and trims but it’s hard to say much more than “online”. I am inveterate hunter and gatherer of all types of trim and I’m always on the lookout for something a little different. I watch what other tutu makers are using and try to step aside from that so I’m very pleased when a client sees a tutu in a fabric or trim where I saw one too. This simple and elegant black tutu arose from that convergence of ideas.

black net lace

This lace is about 22cm wide with 2/3 of it being just sheer black net. I thought it would be perfect for a light overlay on a tutu.

motifs with rhinestones added


Each of the motifs can be separately cut from the net for use as a bodice decoration. While there are no mirror images there is enough irregularity in the designs to fool the eye a little to create a well-balanced but asymmetrical design.

tutu sketch

We planned an ivory skirt which meant the knickers would also have to be ivory. In the photo below you can see the front basque and one of the back pieces with a black velvet top and an ivory lycra bottom. The join is covered by the layers of net.

white pants
ivory knickers

I separately serge line each piece with lightweight lining. In the picture below you can see the pieces laid out onto the lining fabric. I cut roughly around each piece, pin and then overlock, trimming off the excess.

lining the pieces

I placed the individual motifs on the bodice in a pleasing arrangement then either photograph it or look at it in a mirror to get a different perspective to make sure the balance is OK. I decorate the bodice before I sew on the net as it’s much easier to sew appliques onto a leotard stretched onto a bodyboard than onto a completed tutu.

bodice detail

The design was so lovely and abstract I didn’t want to stop at the bodice so I carried it around the back making sure there was still enough stretch for the dancer to pull the tutu on without breaking the sewing thread.

back detail


I gathered the lace onto some narrow hat elastic and pulled it in snug around the high hip and then sewed the seam allowance to the top layer of net. The edge of the overlay was tacked down loosely with black thread to keep it in place.


The overall design was one of elegant simplicity.

finished tutu









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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