Pink and Silver tutu

Simple designs can have a really elegant effect. In this tutu I used the same decoration on the plate and the bodice. It’s a favourite of mine and clients ask for it often. Here it is starring in pink, white and silver.



I used 6 of these around the plate and trimmed the pink lycra to the shape of the applique.


applique placement for plate

Once the appliques were in place I sewed them on place using silver metallic thread. It’s much easier to sew them on before the rhinestones are glued on (AMHIK).

plate pont

plate detail

I used pink and crystal AB rhinestones. You can see where I have trimmed the lycra back to match the outline of the applique.

bodice detail

bodice detail

The bodice has lots of lovely rhinestones too, probably more than the plate actually so that there is lots of sparkle close to the dancer’s face.


Tutus by Dani pattern

I absolutely love Dani’s pattern. It has beautiful lines. She has just released some new ones that I can’t wait to get my hands onto. You should start seeing some new designs later in the year.


lovely simple design



Turquoise and White Stretch Tutu

It’s important that tutus and other dance costumes suit the choreography, the music and most especially the dancer herself. When we have taken the music and choreography into account it’s time to see what pleases the dancer. I love the look on the face of a very young dancer when I pull out the perfect lace and trim for her. Here are a few elements of  simple and sweet little tutu.


very pretty and age appropriate trims

The lace I used has tinselly swirls all over it. I had to find some motifs I could cut from the lace for bodice decoration.

cutting outmotifs


I arranged these onto the bodice and augmented them with flower gems and scalloped sequins and rhinestones to give the lace a bit more definition. No nude insert for this tutu as the dancer was only 8.

bodice detail

bodice detail

The plate was cut as a circle from the lace and I added a few extra motifs to fill in the gaps. I just sewed them on with a zigzag stitch in a matching thread. If it can’t be seen in the photo it can’t be seen on stage. Remember, this is not haute couture!



And just in case it wasn’t sparkly enough I put a layer of glitter tulle at layer 2. There is also a layer of pastel blue at layer 3 to give the white skirt a soft touch of blue.

steamed net

tutu layers

The overall effect was a sweet little blue tutu.




Ivory and Gold Stretch Tutu

I thought with this tutu I might take you through a bit more detail of the construction elements. If that’s not interesting for you scoot through to the end for the finished tutu.

day 1

second tutu for the week

I was asked for an ivory tutu with light gold embellishment in a Baroque style. My client sent me though 1 picture but basically left it in my hands. I ordered in some of my favourite Eclipse Italian lycra “arborio”. It’s a beautiful soft colour.

dani's pattern

Tutus by Dani pattern

My go-to stretch tutu pattern is Dani Legge’s pattern. If you’re considering making a stretch tutu for your girl I can’t recommend Dani’s patterns highly enough. She also runs tutu making courses from her studio in Central Victoria.


cutting out bodice pieces

I usually line the tutu bodice with lightweight swimsuit lining but in this case because the top fabric was so light I lined it with medium weight white lycra. Tybalt wanted to be a pattern weight but he was sidelined.

front sectiom

front section of leotard

Stretch tutus are built on a leotard base. This pattern has a faux basque design to make it resemble a traditional tutu basque.

I use one way stretch crystal lycra for the insert with the stretch going downwards. I fold a piece in half using the dull side outermost. I usually baste the edges to stop the 2 pieces sliding against each other.

crystal lycra

I cut out the nude insert after the leotard is made up. The insert will be another 1 cm deeper than the cut section as I fold the lycra under for a neat edge.

nude insert

nude insert

After cutting out the deep V for the insert I elasticate the tip of the leotard to the point where the insert starts.

pinning in

pinning in the crystal lycra

After the crystal lycra is in place I fold over the elasticated raw edge and then zigzag the whole of the top all the way around and down into the nude insert.

front imsert

nude insert

Then I just neatly trim away the excess crystal lycra.


trimmed insert

When the leotard is finished I decorate it before sewing on the net layers. I struggled through metres and metres of trim for this design but finally decided on 3 different trims and an assortment of rhinestones.


deciding on trim

deciding on trim

Because the trims are non-stretch the leotard needs to be stretched out before they are sewn on. Here is the first layer of trim. It’s a light coffee colour and has a beautiful shape.



I tidied up the bottom of the cut edge with a small piece of the ivory and gold lace. In the  picture below the rhinestones have already been added.

extra trim

finishing trim

I laid the second trim outside the first and squeezed in a third type to frame the nude insert. I added a few other bits and pieces later to complete the design.

fina trim

final design

It’s hard to believe that this came out of the chaos that was on my sewing table for a day!

bodice detail 2

bodice detail

The plate was cut into 6 scallops. I used the coffee coloured braid for the edge and placed the ivory and gold trim just inside it. The next step was to sew down the trim using the sewing machine. The rhinestones were added afterwards.

first plate layoy design

trimming the plate

In the morning I had another look at the plate and decided it needed just a little more trim. I also hand sewed on a few large gold rhinestones.

additioanl trim

additional trim

The skirt was a mixture of ivory and white. I can’t resist combining colours. At a distance you can’t really see the colours but it gives the skirt a bit of movement.



I usually roll up the net after I’ve sewn the pieces together. When I gather the net it can then neatly unroll instead of getting tangled up under the sewing table.

bodice detail

The decoration on the bodice and plate ties together beautifully.

final tutu

finished tutu




Turquoise French Lace

French lace, that beautiful confection of beaded and embroidered lace is sometimes just the most perfect focus of a tutu. It can be used sparingly or, as in this case, lavishly to full effect. I look for a lace that has a pretty scalloped edge but also has motifs across the centre of the fabric that can be used to decorate the bodice and plate.

starting point

lycra and imported french lace

French lace is typically made with a net background so elements can be cut from the lace without fraying. Here I’ve cut some out of the net. I’ve glued a rhinestone to the point where I had to trim a piece of the design away. This will stop the thread that attaches the beads and sequins from unravelling.


motif cut from lace

The appliques were sewn to the completed leotard stretched onto a body board. The lace has a little stretch in it but not as much as the lycra so it’s important to attach the motifs when the lycra is stretched. These body boards are fabulous and available in a range of sizes from Trimmings and Remnants in  Melbourne.

sewing om bodice motifs

decorated bodice

The skirt graded from a matching turquoise on the top layer down to a soft pastel blue in the shortest layers. I hand dyed some white lycra to get the right shade of pale blue for the knickers.


hand dyed net

Usually for skirts with multiple colours I would feather the net so the colours blend avoiding concentric rings of colour but the colours were so closely graded that the edge treatment didn’t matter. We went with scalloping to match the scalloped edge of the lace and the scalloped plate.

hoop layer

hoop layer

French lace is quite heavy so I added a hoop casing onto layer 4 in case the lace weighed down the net. I didn’t hoop it but it will not be a difficult job to add a hoop later if it is needed.

hoo[lauer sewn on

hoop casing

Its much easier to hoop if the casing is already there. Not such a pleasant job if it has to be added in later.

plate construction

plate construction

I also decided to put some motifs on the plate ready for when the tutu skirt was finished. The plate motifs were not symmetrical but they were big enough and irregular enough to fool the eye.

plate detail 2

The venise lace on the edge was originally silver but I overdyed it turquoise. The metallic threads are unchanged but the underlying white rayon bobbin thread took the dye beautifully (using the same dye that was employed for the net). The chalk marks indicate the elliptic cut out to allow the plate to be sewn to the top of the tutu skirt.

The 2 selvedges were cut from the 2 metres of lace and the raw edges trimmed and matched. I hand-sewed these together and gathered the top of the lace ready to be attached to the edge of the plate.

piecing lace together

piecing the lace edges

I put the matched edges at the sides of the overskirt where they wouldn’t be noticed as much.

skirt detail (2)

lace overskirt

The plate mimics the lace and gives a lovely romantic look to the top of the skirt.

skirt detail

plate detail

The overall effect was quite pretty.


completed tutu

20150715 Sydney-54

Tutu in action


Sea Princess

I generally won’t reprise my designs but sometimes I can tweak the design just enough to create an echo of the original. Here is a version of my Sea Witch in a lighter palette and gold embellishment.


feathered net

The skirt had lots of different blues and greens and to help them blend I deeply feathered them all. Lpoks like I missed a few points. I usually go back in with small scissors to trim them up as I sew the layers on.


untacked skirt layers

I wanted to make the plate light but with a bit of interest so I included some tulle ellipses between the points.


putting the plate together

Once the appliques were sewn on it was time to add rhinestones.



sparkle arkle

I added one of the plate motifs to the bodice applique to draw the overall embellishment together.


bodice detail

The little ellipses of glitter tulle were quite lovely I think. I’m also rather fond of elongated points on this inverted scallop plate.


plate detail

And I think we have a very elegant Sea Princess.








Lemon and White Stretch tutu

This was an emergency tutu for lovely young dancer that I’d made a tutu for last year. Her Mum called me with the latest measurements and just said make her a sweet little lemon and white tutu.

I have lots of lovely white appliques. I decided on one with flowers in it and toyed with a few designs.

plate 1

simple circle

I’m not fond of circular plates but I thought the irregular edge of this might add some interest. Then I tried inverting the 8 individual appliques.

plate 2

design number 2

Much more interesting alignment but it still needed a little something, so I added some daisy motifs.

plate 3

design number 3

That little touch lengthened the design and gave more obvious inverted scallops. A handful of rhinestones and half pearls and the design is finished. Glitter net and a layer of yellow net made the white skirt come alive.

plate detail

glitter net adds lovely shimmer

The bodice was embellished with the same appliques and rhinestones.

bodice detail


And finally, a sweet little lemon tutu, ready to brave the eisteddfod season.





Swedish National Costume

Dance eisteddfods in NSW, my home state, don’t have National Character sections in their syllabus, so it’s lovely to get interstate requests for these costumes. I try to make them as authentic as possible but recognising the constraints that some of these costumes have for dance. In this case the long smock style Swedish in the national colours was translated into the dirndl style worn in regional Sweden. I thought that wasn’t stretching the national idiom too far.


starting point

The key characteristics of this costume is a blue dress with white embroidered flowers on the bodice, teamed with a white blouse and a yellow apron patterned with a blue stripe and more flowers.


apron detail

I cheated a little and used organza appliques for the flowers but I think you’ll agree they look sweet.

DSC_0146 (2)

corset lacing

For the laced front I put light boning into the bodice opening and inserted corset grommets. The boning helps keep the lacing from tugging at the bodice and maintains a smooth centre front.


Bodice and apron

The colours are very striking together. I also particularly like putting this one together because the colours are those of my favourite football team too! Go the mighty Eels! I digress.


It’s a very sweet little costume.

There is a petticoat to match and the full circle skirt allows for freedom of movement.