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



4 thoughts on “White and Silver

  1. daphne says:

    Hi Barbara, Thank you so much for sending through pictures and information relating to Soraya’s tutu. I think it will be one of her best ever birthday presents. The lace is perfect and I know she will be delighted with the result. Looking forward very much to the finished tutu. Regards Daphne (Grandma) PS Will there be a layer of glitter tulle in the skirt?

    Sent from my iPad

  2. tutumaker says:

    Hey! Where do you buy those elastic bands/straps and the net? I have been looking for good materials and I like very much your tutus!

    • I buy my elastic from Trimmings and Remnants in Melbourne. It is very good strong elastic and perfect for tutus. I use 12mm for smaller tutus add 20mm for the larger sizes. The BEST nylon net I have ever used is from Spotlight (polyester net is not suitable for tutus). It’s provenance is Italy although sometimes the swing tag on the bolt will say EU. it is the most reliably stiff net I have found. Second best is the Chinese net which comes in a slightly broader and more subtle colour range. The poorest quality is Thai net as the stiffener washes off. I have found however, that the washed Thai net is perfect for the lowest layer of a romantic skirt. If you’re in North America i think Tutunets might have Spotlight net. In the UK I think most tutu makers get their stiff net from Heathcotes.

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