White and Silver

This delicate little tutu has been a team effort between a grandmother, a mum a young dancer … with me as facilitator. Together we’ve created a delicate white tutu that still has plenty of character to support the choreography and music.

The blank canvas for the tutu is this simple white leotard made from Dani Legge’s brilliant pattern. It’s self-lined with lycra and ready for decoration.

leotard finished

We chose a silver and white corded lace for the design. This type of lace has motifs embroidered onto a net background. These can be cut from the lace and the edges won’t fray.

Starting point

Silver and white corded lace

I have also trimmed the motifs into smaller shapes and secured the cut ends with small ss16 crystal AB rhinestones. and then pinned them into place.

pinning on front motifs

bodice motifs ready to be hand-sewn

I used a body board to stretch the leotard and so that I can hand sew the motifs in place. You can see the small rhinestones that have already been attached to the lace.

pinning on back motifs

back motifs

The young dancer has a lovely supple back so we decided to show it to best advantage by lowering the back a little and also decorating it with some motifs.

treasure chest

treasure chest

I augmented the bodice and back designs with a few sew-on rhinestones to complete the final design.

plate construction

plate construction

This tutu will have a small plate about 1/3 the width of the skirt. In the picture above I have placed 10 motifs (5 pairs of mirror images) around the central section that will be cut out to fit around the high hip. The white lycra will be trimmed close to the edge of the lace to give a finely dissected and delicate plate.

sewing on appliques

sewing on appliques

Tutus are stage costumes not couture pieces. They have to withstand robust treatment so secure machine stitching can keep things effectively in place without diminishing the general effect. I used a fine metallic silver thread to catch the edges of the motifs and then glued ss16 and ss20 crystal AB rhinestones to the appliques to secure them further.

plate construction 2

trimming the plate with applique scissors

I trimmed away just enough of the lycra so that the lace edge defines the plate. The inside circumference of the plate was clipped so it could fit around the leotard neatly.

plate construction 3

finished plate

I put the plate aside and started on the skirt. The 7 net layers had been previously cut, gathered and steamed. So starting with the longest layer I started to build the tutu.

layer 1 goes on

first layer of net

Layer 2 was glitter tulle. Its much softer than ballet net but with stiff ballet net through the rest of the tutu the softness is accommodated. Glitter tulle at layer 2 gives a soft ballet glimmer. For a sparkly Sleeping Beauty Fairy I’d use glitter tulle as the top layer.

pinning layer 2

pinning layer 2

After all the layers were on I tamed the tutu by tacking the layers together; 7, 6 and 5, then 5, 4 and 3 and finally 3, 2 and 1. These 3 rows of tacking hold the tutu into a classical shape but still allow for movement. My tutus are an English classical shape rather than the ultra flat pancaked style.


plate detail

The mannequin has a funny little pot tummy. This tutu is for a very petite dancer so the tutu will have quite a different silhouette on our petite dancer.

bodice detail

bodice detail

I’ve lowered the back a little and added some appliques. You can see here how the plate has a lovely delicate tracery to it rather than a formalised shape.


back detail

We’ve also added some delicate little arms frills in glitter tulle to the ensemble. They have been decorated with matching corded silver lace and rhinestones. I’ve used nude coloured elastic so that there isn’t a strong white line of elastic against the arms.

arms frills

arms frills

And finally the full reveal


completed tutu



Tiny Sugar Plum

This tutu is baby pink for a very young little dancer. How could I resist making a pink tutu for a tiny girl? We started with a beautiful embroidered lace with opalescent sequins which I embellished with rhinestones.


embellished motif

The skirt was chiefly white but I put a layer of pink under the top layer of white glitter tulle to soften it a little.


skirt colours

The bodice of the tutu was a lovely light pink. The motif was quite bright so it didn’t get lost with the pink on pink decoration.

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bodice detail

This was a perfect design for a tiny sugar plum fairy.


sweet little tutu

And here is the sweet little thing herself with her arm frills added, her hair in a ballet bun and ready to try on the tutu with her tights and ballet shoes.

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tiny dancer


Fuchsia and Royal Blue Tutu

I love bright colours in tutus. They are a delight to make but seem to be finished too soon! This tutu was for little Eden. As you can see in the last photo the colours really suited her fair complexion.


Bodice detail

I cut motifs from the fuchsia corded lace. After cutting out the motifs I embellish them with rhinestones especially in places where I may have cut through embroidery or cording.


trailing flowers and tendrils

The fuchsia colour of the appliques is continued through to the underskirt of the tutu which you can see peeking through the skirt. Below is a lovely action shot of Eden at The Illawarra Eisteddfod courtesy of DJBarrett Photographer.



Tiny Cinderella

A mum from Queensland asked if I could make her 4 year old a very romantic Cinderella style tutu in blue, cream and gold. She gave me a few ideas, like a swag around the top and shoulders and a deeply ornate plate but basically gave me free rein. We were both very pleased with the sweet little confection I came up with for her wee girl. Have a look at the elements in the pictures below.

plate detail (2)

Plate detail

The plate was blue at the top and edged with gold venise lace. The second tier was cream and I used 2 other trims in lighter gold. The lace was embellished with crystal AB and blue rhinestones.

plate detail

central detail

The very centre of the plate had an ornate focal point using french lace that mirrored the bodice decoration. The skirt was ivory underneath with a blue layer and a layer of glitter tulle on the top for some Cinderella sparkle.

bodice detail

bodice detail

The bodice had a little swag cross the top that continued around the top of the arms and to the back. The centre of the bodice was decorated with venise lace, embroidered lace and a some french lace remnants I have left over from another tutu. I always keep a box of little trimming pieces just in case. The french lace was perfect for this.


finished tutu

I was very happy with little tutu and then completely delighted when I received this picture from the ballerina’s mum with her daughter wearing the tiara I made for her as well.


completely adorable

Burgundy Contemporary costume

This costume uses a lovely combination of burgundy and wine red fabrics as well as a dusty rose sequinned lace. I love finding unusual fabrics that sing together beautifully. On the back of the skirt you can see the wine coloured lycra, burgundy skirt and dusty rose lace edge.

back detail

back detail

I used some of the motifs from centre of the lace to decorate the crop top as well as augmenting the lace with burgundy and crystal AB rhinestones.


front detail

The costume was for a young dancer so a crop top was preferred over a bra top. We made the back a little fancy for her though with a strappy cross-over. The diagonally placed applique continued around the back just a little.


back detail



completed costume