Black and Red Tutu

A senior dancer wanted a strong design in red and black that could be used for both Spanish or any other strong choreography.

bodice detail
bodice detail

We went with black velvet for the bodice and a dark red corded lace which I set about encrusting with rhinestones.

plate detail
plate detail

I used hyacinth AB crystals, various reds and some black rhinestones.

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Red underskirt

The top 2 layers of the skirt are black, then wine red and dark red for a brilliant flash of red.




Odalisque from Le Corsaire

Le Corsaire (The Pirate) is a ballet based on a poem by Lord Byron and set in the mysterious Near East, Turkey. An odalisque was a servant in the Turkish ruler’s court and features in the ballet. The iconic 2 piece costume well recognised. This tutu traveled “across-the-ditch” to New Zealand for the Alana Haines Awards in April.

bodice detail CU
bodice detail

The costume was made in rich teal with purple and gold embellishment. I wanted to make it as sumptuous as possible and almost ran out of space for rhinestones.

plate detail
plate detail

I used 2 different gold trims on this tutu to create a depth of colour.

The decoration was as rich on the back as it was on the front. The separate top was modelled on an Indian choli rather than a smaller bustier as the dancer was quite young.

front (2)

I think the rich embellishment and the colour choices made for a wonderful overall effect.

back detail

A layer of glitter tulle under the top layer of net add a lovely sparkle.

Flames of Paris

Most Australian eisteddfods and dance competitions don’t ask for variations but I do get a lot of requests for variation tutus from the US. Flames of Paris is very popular.

I used a Dani Legge’s peasant pas dress pattern for the bodice and attached the skirt at the high hip rather than the waist. The slightly bell shaped tutu has a layer of white and silver chantilly lace that I used as the foundation for the blue and red ribbon trimming.

Flames of Paris

Autumn Roses

One of my clients loves bold colours in interesting combinations. She sent me some pictures of autumn scenes and left the rest to me. This tutu is for a young dancer.


plate 1 - Copy
Autumnal yellows and pinks

Rhinestones sit delicately on the skirt like dew drops. The flowers and rhinestones also adorn the bodice.


bodice detail - Copy
Flowers and crystals


The skirt was made up of warm pinks. The second layer if the skirt was made up of 4 colours of glitter tulle; pink, red, orange and lilac alternating around the skirt.



Apricot, Ivory and White tutus

My last multiple post will be those enduring colours of the ballet world, white, ivory and apricot.

Elegant simplicity

A lovely white tutu with silver venise lace, crystal AB rhinestones and a simple overlay of silver white lace.

Ruched white bodice

This design took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing but I think my client and I came up with a real winner. Silver venise lace and crystal AB rhinestones again team beautifully with crisp white. The ruched bodice and underbust decorations are now one of my favourite designs.


This lovely Paquita made her debut at the Sydney Eisteddfod this year. The ivory particularly suited the young dancer’s olive complexion.

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Gold and ivory

The ornate geometry of the decorations gave a baroque feel to this tutu. The skirt was a mixture of white and ivory to reduce the starkness of an all white skirt.

3Q profile
My favourite tutu this year

I know I shouldn’t have favourites amongst my “children” but this beauty still takes my breath away. The upper bodice is covered in stretch lace and the decorations are a combination of apricot, copper and gold. There is a single layer of apricot net that gives the skirt a pretty blush.

Close second

And this tutu is the very close second. It’s pretty and romantic. I had great fun constructing the ornate plate.


Red, Pink and Coral Tutus

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been asked to make some beautiful coloured tutus this year. Here is a series of red, pink and coral tutus

tiny pink

Let’s start with this tiny pink confection with the soft white feathered skirt revealing a pink underskirt.

Fairy Doll

Next is a cute little character tutu for the Fairy Doll. She always features ribbons and bows and lots of sparkle. I did quite a lot of ruched bodices last year. They’re not difficult and look quite lovely.

Magenta and Silver

This tutu was quite simple but had quite a dramatic effect with the white corded lace over the small magenta hip plate. Pink and crystal AB rhinestones gave it some lovely sparkle.

dusty rose and french lace

This soft pink colour was beautifully enhanced with silver french lace. I had a small amount left over from another tutu and there was just enough to encrust this tutu.

Fuchsia and gold

The embroidery on the lace was a perfect match for the fuchsia plate. I firmly believe you shouldn’t be permitted to use fuchsia fabrics unless you can spell it. The colour refers to the vibrant pink of the Fuchsia flower named after Herr Fuchs, the 19th century German botanist.

coral tutu

The top layer of the skirt if slightly shorter than layer 2 so the bright orange net peeks through. This tutu gets great comments from adjudicators.

Watermelon and Gold

The colour of this tutu is divine. I teamed it with gold venise lace and the top layer of the skirt is a soft champagne colour.

Silver, white and red velvet

This tutu teams bright red with crisp white and silver for a stunning effect. Depending on music or choreography this tutu could be so many different characters.

A touch of Spain

And the last of my red/pink tutus is this ornate red, white and gold that has a light Spanish flair about it.


Purple and Burgundy Tutus

Purple and burgundy are beautiful rich colours that make for stunning stage costumes.

Burgundy and Gold

The combination of burgundy velvet, venise lace and a full lace overskirt is a perfect Paquita.

Cherry burgundy and silver

Changing the colour tones slightly to cooler silver and purple gives a tutu a whole new character.

Aubergine and Purple

The colours in this tutu were beautiful. I even included some red in the skirt for an extra bit of zing.

Iris and Gold

My clients provided this beautiful ornate lace and asked for a deep purple velvet to accompany it.

Light Purple and Gold





Lilac Tutus

Last year seemed to be the year of the Lilac Fairy. Here are 6 variations on a theme.



This tutu was very pretty with pinks and mauves moving against each other in the skirt. The lilac corded lace spills onto the skirt where you can see the multiple skirt colours.

Emily’s Lilac Fairy

This tutu was embellished with silver venise lace and rhinestones. The top layer of net is sparkle tulle and it is a little shorter than the next layer to give a soft colour shift at the edges.

Lilac and white

This is a tiny little lilac fairy for a 4 year old. It is embellished with white corded lace, pearls and rhinestones.

Lilac Fairy

This Lilac Fairy was made as a RTW tutu. It uses the same lace as the first tutu but I used the selvedge to trim the plate and it gives the plate quite a different look.

White and Lilac

This tiny tutu uses the same lace as the tutu above but you can see on a white background it has a different effect. Compare it to the next tutu using the central motifs of the same lace.

another lilac fairy!



Blue Tutus

This last 12 months has been completely awash with tutus and I apologise for not blogging more. I promise the next 12 months will include more detailed posts. So for now I’ll just catch up with photos of completed tutus. This first post will be for blue tutus.

blue french lace 3Q
blue French lace

There is a lovely lightness about the lace overlay on this skirt. I don’t often make a tutu without a matching plate but this worked so beautifully.

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Hand Dyed corded lace

This tutu began life as a RTW tutu after I hand-dyed some corded lace as an experiment. It was so pretty I built the tutu around it.¬† The tutu was listed on a tutu sellers page and sold in 2 hours. Sorry, it didn’t even make it to my RTW page.


Royal Blue and Venise Lace

Royal blue and gold are perfect partners and I especially like this ornate gold venise lace. A liberal hand with the blue rhinestones added a bit of extra colour to the lace which can sometimes be a little overwhelming.

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corded lace

This pretty fine corded lace has a metallic thread through it giving some extra sparkle. It’s actually dark blue so stands out well against the light blue.

Pretty full lace overskirt

The lace overskirt was another dyeing triumph. We needed a pale blue sparkly overskirt and this pretty silver-white lace from Spotlight took on a lovely light blue colour. Even the sequins were dyed!

Pretty little blue and silver

It was lovely making this for a dear little girl. She was so excited about her first tutu!

Pas D’Esclave

I like making a little bodice like an Indian choli for these tutus and decorating them richly with venise lace and rhinestones. The off-the-shoulder effect looks terrific on stage.


This was a lovely choice for Esmeralda, a soft turquoise blue with a tiered skirt and long mesh sleeves. We also added a deep back to show off the dancer’s flexibility.

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deep back

And to finish off the blue theme, another sweet tiny tutu for a 4 year old just starting her ballet solos.

Velvet and roses





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