Matilda’s Garden tutu

Matilda is 8, turning 9 in August and wanted a green, purple and gold tutu with butterflies. She’s a completely delightful and engaging wee thing and quiet decisive in her tastes. We had a brief chat and quickly decided on colours, trim and embellishment. I eventually made a small change to give the embellishment a pretty lightness.

starting point
staring point

Once I’d made up the bodice I laid out the trims we had decided on but the venise lace motif was a bit too heavy so I swapped it for some gold corded lace I had used on a tutu last year. There was just a little of it left; no mirror pairs so had to make do. The aim was to fill the gaps with flowers.

corded lace on bodice

In this photo you can see where I have zig-zagged on the mauve pants (to match the net) and the basting line to indicate the first layer of net. The raw edges are completely hidden by the net on the front and on the inside by the lining. The flowers disguise the fact that the corded lace embellishment is not symmetrical.

decorated bodice
decorated bodice

The skirt was a mixture of mauve and light purple net and a layer of glitter tulle.

gathered and steamed net

The original plan for the plate was venise lace, butterflies and flowers. As you can see in the photo, it’s pretty but a little stark, so I introduced a little of the corded lace onto it and added some rhinestones to bring a bit more purple through the gold lace.

first version of the plate

The final version of the plate has a lovely delicacy about it.

plate detail
plate detail

I was very pleased with this rather whimsical little tutu. It’s very sweet and age appropriate.

bodice detail
bodice detail

The addition of the green butterflies just makes me laugh every time I see them remembering my funny little conversations with the charming Matilda.

tutu front
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.

5 thoughts on “Matilda’s Garden tutu

  1. Greetings from Canada! I found your blog via a very round about way- searching for dance costume inspiration on Pinterest I came across Tutus by Dani and from her I came across you. Convoluted!
    I would imagine most women who start down the dance costume path have daughters who dance and I am no exception to that.My little girl dances competitively and for several years I have eyeballed costumes thinking “I could do that”. This year I finally did-I made a fun 60’s inspired Jazz costume. While it wasn’t a complicated costume it was my first real foray into lycra and I LOVED IT. Previously I shied away from apparel because I’m a “sewer” not a “seamstress”– I believe there is a huge difference in skill set. Lycra/spandex is so forgiving in terms of fitting….which is why I think these stretch tutus are brilliant.
    So I’ve read every blog post you’ve written, digesting all the hints, tips, tricks I can. You cover both technical and creative insights.
    I’d like to thank you for all the photos and detailed commentary you have provided, I’m sure they have saved me MANY trial & error mistakes.A lot of creatives are very secretive about their process & material sources: you are the exact opposite of that and it is appreciated.
    Absorbing the information has given me the courage to give it a go myself. I’ll be choosing a pattern & gathering a few supplies in the next little while, fingers crossed! Again, thank you.

    1. Hi Charlene,

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading the blog and I hope it helps. I know Dani very well and she taught me so much I could never thank her enough. I also owe an enormous debt a gratitude to Suzanne Dieckmann who taught me to make non-stretch tutus. I’m happy to share little snippets along the way but there is no substitute for getting in there amongst the lycra and trims and flailing around for a while. When it all settles you’ll see it all differently! I’d also recommend looking for short courses. Enjoy your daughter’s dancing and thanks for such a lovely comment on my blog … and of course, thanks for liking my FB page too!



  2. Honestly I don’t think the lace needed to be symmetrical with the type of design you were doing. I think by having it not match exactly it looks more organic and flowy. It really is lovely.

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