Grey Velvet with French Lace

Tutu design can sometimes get you into a bit of a rut so it’s nice to be nudged out of that with clients’ lovely ideas. While this design was quite simple the colour choice was surprisingly refreshing. The young dancer is about 15 and she chose an elegant soft dove grey and teamed it with an understated silver French lace I’d had stashed away.

lace CU
silver and grey French lace

French lace is very expensive and also quite heavy but with a careful approach you can avoid the high cost and weight. While it may seem a travesty to cut this up is really does reveal a huge range of possibilities. Usually the lace selvedge will be scalloped and heavily beaded and can be quite lovely as a plate. However, it also has a number of motifs in the centre that can be cut out as the background fabric is nylon net and won’t fray. This lace had mirror pairs of motifs.

mirror pair
Mirror pairs of motifs

I used 5 of these to decorate the bodice, 2 pairs across the top and a single motif I trimmed to appear bilaterally symmetrical. Any cuts through beaded sections were sealed with Fraycheck. I also extended the motifs around the back of the bodice to give a little interest to the back. I decorate the bodice before I attach the net as it’s veru difficult leaning over a full tutu skirt to try to sew things onto the bodice. In the photo below you can see where I’ve zigzagged the velvet bodice onto the white knickers as the bottom rows of the skirt will be white.

decorated bodice
decorated bodice

The plate was embellished with 6 mirror pairs giving a complex edge that looked like the plate had been frosted with ice. The underlying plate shape was 6 round petals. I didn’t finish the edges at all as the fabric doesn’t fray and it wouldn’t be seen. The is not haute couture! Otherwise no one could afford a tutu!

CU of decorated plate
placement of motifs

After deciding on the general placement of the motifs, I hand-sewed (Oh yes … too many seed beads to use a machine!) them to the plate.

decorated plate
Plate decorated with french lace motifs

You can see the inner circumference of the plate is an ellipse as that is more accurately the shape of the dancer through the plane of her hips. The plate itself is a modified circle. Sometimes I will create an elliptic plate if the trim is linear but elliptic plates make the regular placement of motifs a bit tricky.

net FX
Grey and white net layers

I wanted a translucence in the skirt rather than a solid grey colour so the top 4 layers alternated between grey and white. The remainder of the skirt is white. With the white underneath the grey took on a slight lavender effect.

three quarter

Close up you can see a little of the net around each motif but these disappear at about 2-3 metres so I didn’t trim too closely. I certainly don’t want beads spilling off the costume onto the stage. The edge of the velvet plate is sewn loosely to the top of the skirt as is the lace edge.

finished tutu

And you can see here that the net backing certainly doesn’t show up and the whole effect is quite ethereal.








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.

5 thoughts on “Grey Velvet with French Lace

    1. I had bought the grey velvet last year thinking it might be useful and didn’t even think about the french lace that was sitting not far from it in the stash. When my client said she wanted grey the two fabrics sprang to mind straight away.

    1. Hi Reyna,

      I used Danielle Legge’s stretch tutu pattern. Her patterns are sublime and the best stretch tutu patterns available. She has a blog and a FB page called Tutus by Dani. Contact her through either of these. She can post patterns or email a PDF. Tell her that I sent you!



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