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


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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