Warm Cream and Gold Traditional Tutu

This was a lovely tutu to make. There were no time pressures and Lillian, Izzy and I had a great time putting together the design. I really had to call on my inner princess for this one.

The first thing we do of course is decide on a bodice fabric. Tutu making has given me a glorious excuse to buy and stash away beautiful fabrics to make into dance costumes. I’m a real jeans and t-shirt girl but I still can’t resist a luxuriant fabric.

fabric starting point (640x424)

starting point

Here we have a beautiful brocade with warm gold and a soft silvery thread woven through. We matched it with a rose venise lace, some pretty ivory and gold braid for added texture and lovely citrine Czech Preciosa rhinestones to catch the bluish tones in the brocade. I use Preciosa rhinestones rather than Swarovski as they have a better glimmer at a distance. Both are superior to the cheaper machine pressed rhinestones that are available. Having said that the cheaper ones are great for colour and can be teamed with machine cut stones for sparkle.

pattern pieces (640x424)

first steps

With the lovely brocade on stand-by I cut out the cotton drill foundation fabric first. You cans ee the side panels have been placed on the bias for a little bit of give at the side of the bodice.

serge lining the top fabric (424x640)

prep for serge-lining

The foundation pieces are laid right side up onto the wrong side of the top fabric (got that?) and then cut out with a bit extra to be trimmed off by the overlocker (serger). This stabilises the top fabric and gives the bodice some body. Some tutu makers use coutil but a sturdy 7 or 10 ounce cotton drill also works well.

lower bodice together (640x424)

lower bodice pieces sewn together

This bodice will have a ruched silk upper bodice; a corselet bodice. The serge lined pieces go together so well in this pattern. Again I’m using a pattern from Tutus That Dance. This is Bodice 2107.

steamed tissue silk (640x424)

steamed tissue silk

The upper bodice will be of cotton drill covered in roughly pleated silk. The bodice is about 1 metre around (including the wide seam allowances at the back closure).  I gathered four metres of tissue silk top and bottom and steamed it like I steam my ballet net holding the bottom edge taut and steaming in the rough pleats. It’s a magical technique taught to me by the very talented and generous tutu maker Suzanne Dieckman of Tutus That Dance.

pinned to the bodice (640x424)

ruched silk pinned to bodice

I interlined the silk and the drill with deep cream coloured poplin to give a warmer colour to the silk, then I pinned the ruched silk over the top keeping the pleats more or less even but still keeping a slightly ordered chaos … my stylistic excuse for lack of perfection!

ruched silk sewn down (640x424)

upper bodice with attached silk

It came out looking so beautiful I just kept looking at it. I handstitched it in first so I could control where the pleats sat and then basted it by machine. A bit of overworking here but I love the result. I used the same technique for the centre panel but it was a bit trickier to keep the pleats in place over a long vertical piece so I basted them down lightly.

centre panel pinned in (640x424)

centre panel pinned in

I piped the deep V of the lower bodice so I could attach the centre panel by stitching in the ditch through the piping. I love that technique and try to use it wherever I can. It’s neat, controllable and piping always gives such a classy finish. The upper bodice is piped with duchesse satin and I piped the bottom edge of the lower bodice with gold satin. I used the same satin around the basque as well. The soft gold and blended well with the brocade offering just a little bit of definition without detracting from the line of the bodice.

bodice taking shape (424x640)


I was really looking forward to the next step. The 2 pieces fitted together beautifully of course (thanks Suzanne!) and the lustre of the brocade and the rich depth of the silk  looked so luscious together!

inned ready for handsewing (640x424)


Oh I loved this bit too! We had agreed on the rose venise lace and the ivory and gold braid but between consultation and starting the tutu I ordered some new laces and the smaller dark gold rose venise lace arrived. It was the perfect complement! I put citrine AB rhinestones on the light gold lace and crystal AB on the darker lace. Next came the tutu skirt itself.

panty and numbered net layers (640x424)

panty and numbered net layers

The panty has had the elastic casing already sewn on and the ruffle guidelines marked in alternating white and beige thread (so I can see where I’m up to). The panty is 2 layers of cotton poplin. White was too stark against the ivory net so the lining was beige and the 2 colours together matched the net beautifully.

layer 3 goes on (640x424)

layer 3 going on


Layer 3 is the first of the layers with seam allowance pointing down. It’s probably the trickiest layer to sew. There’s a bit of wrestling and a bit of cussin’.

fishing line pulled up tight (640x424)

fishing line gathering

With over 60 linear metres of gathering, broken threads or running out of bobbin thread can be a nightmare … until I learnt how to gather onto fishing line. May I say, if it were not for the humble spool of $5 10lb fishing line from Kmart I would not be a tutu-maker! I applaud anyone, past or present, pulling up gathering threads!

layers ON (640x424)

steamed, attached and steamed again

And here is the lovely skirt that emerges from under the presser foot. A lovely fluffy thing waiting to be further tamed into shape. This beauty was hand-tacked used good old fashioned thread, scissors and endless patience.

plate decoration (640x424)

plate decoration

The plate needed to balance the ornate bodice. I chose a fairly traditional 6 petalled plate and filled in the gaps with the duchesse satin I used for the bodice piping. I toyed with the idea of more ruched silk but I pulled back from that as the design was already rich and all I needed was the colour of the silk to tie the plate design in.

all systems go! (640x424)

all systems go

And then a nice early morning start for the final phase of construction.

lovely ruched bodice (640x424)

lovely ruched bodice

A delicate sequinned lace was also used as an overlay from under the plate. This was the finishing touch.

side  (640x424)

Plate detail

et voila (424x640)

inner princess channelled

I really enjoyed making this tutu. Thanks to Lillian and Izzy for being such great fun.


Fuchsia Tutu with a Spanish Flair

I love it when clients want something outside of the square. Here are a few photos of putting together a traditional tutu in a beautiful fuchsia taffeta with a bit of a Spanish flair in the choreography and music. Instead of a rose in her hair she wore a pink and white peony


Bodice with shaped nude insert

The client already had a fabric in mind and brought it along with her. Unfortunately it was a stretch taffeta so I had to stabilise it with iron interfacing. This meant there would be no stretch in the bias panels and too much stretch in the piping … but we managed! We were going for a design where the colour would sing so the bodice design was pulled back to simplicity; venise lace and a bit of bling.

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venise lace, rhinestones, filigree sequins and seed beads

A lovely touch to the skirt was the addition of a layer of soft fuchsia bridal tulle as the very top layer. It was 2/3 the depth of the skirt but cut into very long points to give a graded effect but not the smooth effect of ombre painting.

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top tulle layer

The plate echoed the design on the bodice and was decorated simply with rhinestones. We kept it very small, really just a hip plate to allow the colour of the bodice to extend to the skirt without overwhelming it.

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small tutu plate

I added some sleeves with the same trim and here we have the beautiful tutu.

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completed tutu

And it goes without saying that this looks so much better on a real dancer.


The beautiful Jasmine


strong colours are beautiful on stage

Mint and Gold Traditional Tutu

Sian and her Mum Carmel contacted me very early in the year to book a spot for a consultation. I love that sort of forward planning. It certainly helps me in this job! We went through a few colour schemes and had almost decided when Sian emerged from the stash with a pale mint brocade with soft gold threads through it. We matching this with a light gold venise lace trim. We toyed with the idea of a sparkle tulle under the ivory net.

mint and ivory

starting point

Sian wanted understated elegance with shimmer rather than bling so we decided on a simple bodice design but with a deep V nude insert.

bodice front

front point

To highlight the gold in the fabric the top of the bodice and the bottom of the basque were piped with gold but the bottom of the bodice is self-piped so there’s no interruption in line.


basque piped with gold

deep V

Deep V piped with gold

The venise lace needed only a little bit of sparkle so I added some ss20 AB coated pale green rhinestones. I will embellish this with a little bit of hand-sewing and beads and sequins later.

venise lace

venise lace

venise lace decoration

venise lace and hand beaded embellishment

Instead of a traditional plate they wanted little trapezoid petals they had seen on one of New Zealander Janice Barnden’s tutus. Janice makes beautiful tutus so do look out for Pas de Basque tutus. I fiddled with a shape and proportions for a while and found that 8 petals gave a nice balance.

skirt petals

paper petal template


petals aligned

They looked a bit lonely and sad so I jazzed them up with a little of the venise lace cut into small appliqués and given a bit more bling with some acrylic faceted and crystal rhinestones.


petal bling

Next came the skirt. In the picture below you can just see the hoop casing on row 4. While this tutu will not be hooped, if over time the net softens the tutu can be brought back to life by inserting a hoop, which is much easier to do if it already has a casing.

putting the skirt togther

row 4 going on

I hand tack traditional skirts but plastic gun tacks will do exactly the same job. I guess I just like keeping old skills alive.  There are many ways to tack a skirt but I prefer the fluidity you get from individual swing tacks around the tutu. I do 4 rows of swing tacks … you get faster at it! The floor of my studio is covered with little thread tails though after trimming each hand tied knot. I guess there must be about 60-80 per row.

tacking threads 2

tacking equipment and thread tails

Once the skirt is finished it’s time to put everything together. I hand basted the bodice to the basque and then sewed it doen by machine leaving the front point free. I placed the petals evenly around the basque and tacked them into place. I put the glimmer net under them to see how it looked and just lived with it for a couple of hours before I sewed it in place.


glimmer net or not?

Sydney’s weak autumn sun managed to make the glimmer net sparkle (when the sun emerged!) and I decided it could stay.

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glimmer net at home

I think the oversirt adds a subtle interest to the tutu skirt and brings out the gold colour. It will look pretty on stage because the under side still has the strong ivory colouring.

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lovely deep V

I’m rather taken with this understated tutu. The brocade is lovely and has the softest gold touches to it with fine gold lurex thread through it.


Hand beading

A tiny bit of hand-beading nicely extends the line of the venise lace and … it’s cheaper than therapy!


completed tutu

I loved making this tutu.


Apricot and Ivory Traditional tutu

Sydney is a big place and when people come all the way to see me from outside the metropolitan area for a tutu I’m pretty amazed at their dedication to their art. Recently I had 2 Mums, 2 dancers and a gaggle of young hangers-on visit me from Wollongong. They were Carmel and her daughter Sian and Sam and her daughter Emily. I’ve just finished Emily’s tutu and will start on Sian’s this afternoon … stay tuned for that one too!

Emily wanted a 2 coloured tutu with the top of the bodice in a light colour and the rest in  pastel. I let Emily go into my fabric stash to choose a main fabric. She came out with a beautiful apricot brocade which I teamed with a warm ivory Thai silk. Sam (I think) had already eyed off a textured ivory lace on the shelf and the 3 fabrics went together beautifully. How does that happen? These 3 fabrics had lived peacefully in my studio for some time and had never “met” one another. I was very pleased that Sam and Emily introduced them.

1. apricot and ivory (678x1024)

Brocade, silk and embroidered tulle lace

The first stage is cutting up the toile to create the corselet bodice AND adding the new seam allowance.

2. corselet bodice (1024x678)

toile cut into corselet and bodice

This went together beautifully. I think I’ll make this up again and let the lines shine through and not use trim. But the trim was beautiful when it went on.

3. bodice front (1024x678)

bodice lines

The lace is beautifully sculptural and I managed to put a tiny unobtrusive dart into it to make it curve around the bust. The next step was trying out placement of the venise lace.

11. pinning on venise lace (1024x678)

lace placement on bodice

Once the bodice was sorted out and decorated I started on the skirt. Rather than a solid ivory skirt I suggested some apricot layers. The apricot net I had in my stash had too much red in it so I hand-dyed some net with Dharma Trading Saffron Spice acid dye. It was a perfect warm apricot colour.

4. two layers of apricot (1024x678)

steamed skirt layers

I initially thought layer 2 and 4 could be apricot but the colour was too strong so i just left it at layer 2 and the apricot peeking through was lovely and soft.

6. layer 3 (1024x678)

layers 1,2 and 3

With each layer the decision to add just one layer of apricot was clearly to right one.

7. apricot layer in skirt (1024x678)

lovely soft apricot and ivory colours

The skirt plate needs to tie in the decoration on the bodice so I repeated the venise lace on the plate. We decided inverted scallops would suit the lace best. To extend the lace along the points I cut a small heart shape out, turned it upside down and added one of the little leaf.

12. rearranging trim (1024x678) (2)

rearranged venise lace

I blinged up the venise lace before it was hand sewn to the skirt before the bodice and basque were sewn on.

10. skirt plate (1024x678)

skirt plate


The tutu came together beautifully. There are also little lace arm frills as well but they are so hard to photograph!

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bodice detail

14. Skirt (1024x678)

finished skirt

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finished tutu

Black traditional tutu

I’ve been asked to make a black traditional tutu that the client would like to decorate herself so I thought this would be a good opportunity to track the construction progress of a traditional tutu. I will use a Tutus That Dance pattern with a pointed bodice. There will be no nude inset as the dancer loves the neckline as it is.

We’ve chosen a black faille with a slight lustre. The overlay fabric is beautifully ornate so we’re keeping the tutu as understated as possible.

At the first consultation Clara tried on a couple of ready made tutus I have to see which was a good fit. From there I made up the pattern in calico and she came in for her first fitting. It was a close fit but just a bit too loose at the underbust so I pinned the side seams in a little and resewed them. You can see that the toile is made with the seam allowances on the right side. This makes resewing and refitting much easier.

adjusted side front

adjusted side seam

Once the tweaked toile was completed I unpicked it and recut the toile pieces that needed adjustment and voila … my new customised pattern! I’ll keep this on file for a new tutu for Clara.

adjusted toile

Adjusted toile

Using the new pattern I cut out the top fabric and the cotton drill lining fabric. Soft coutil is a good alternative if you can get hold of it. Most of the coutil available in Australia is very stiff and more suited to corsetry. The faille and drill are then overlocked together. While this may make for a less aesthetically pleasing bodice interior it creates much less work if alternations are required later on.

serge lined 10-piece bodice

Serge-lined 10 piece bodice

I love Suzanne Dieckmann’s patterns. They are easy to fit and adapt, and they sew together beautifully. Here is the bodice front. I’ve left the centre front seam open to make it easier to apply the piping and get a good match.

Bodice front

bodice front

When the whole bodice is sewn together the top and bottom edges are finished off with piping. I like to make this from the same fabric as the bodice (rather than buy ready-made) unless I’m after a particular effect. I overlock one edge of the bias strip so it can be sewn down to the lining without extra bulk especially at places like the bodice point, at the top of the princess seam or over side seams.

bias sewn onto point

Applying piping to bodice point

When the bottom of the bodice has been piped then it’s time to add the boning casing. The piping at the top of the bodice will cover over the top of the boning casing so this is sewn down last.

boning casing sewn in

boning casing added to front seams

Up to this stage the bodice has required sewing skills. Now we move onto the “engineering” skills and the toolbox.

bodice kit

tutu toolbox

To give a crisp wrinkle-free look to the bodice I will add spiral steel boning to the bust seams and the side front seams. Spiral boning can bend from side to side as well as backwards and forwards to allow movement. The centre front seam will have flat steel boning that only bends forwards and backwards. The bodice point will be floating to allow the dancer to bend backwards and allow the bodice to move with her (thereby avoiding costume “malfunctions”).


spiral and spring steel boning perform different functions

Boning can be bought in precut lengths but I prefer to cut my own. Tin snips are fine for the flat steel (white coated boning in the photo) but the spiral steel needs a cutter with a clamping action. Bolt cutters are the tool for this. I had an amusing time with the guy at the hardware store who insisted I was wrong and ruined a pair of tin snips showing me that I didn’t need bolt cutters. Just because I make “fluffy” things doesn’t mean I don’t understand hardware!

bolt cutters

bolt cutters … every tutu-maker’s tool de jour

Of course the cut end of the bones can be very sharp and jagged so little caps are required. It’s a juggling act using 2 sets of needle nose pliers to attach with equal pressure from the side and above. Sorry, no picture … I’d need three hands or an assistant!

boning caps

spiral steel boning caps

The finished bone can then be easily inserted into the boning casing with a nice soft rounded edge.

capped spiral bone

capped spiral bone

The flat steel is treated a little differently. The sharp corners are filed down and the new rounded edge is dipped into a plastic coating (tipping fluid) and allowed to dry. This will soften the edge and prevent rusting.

spring steel

tipping fluid for spring steel bones

The bones slip into the casing easily but you have to be careful not to sew into the open section of the tube. I sew the casing in first but this photo just shows how the casing works.

boning in casing

boning casing

Boning is then inserted into the casing that has already been handstitched onto the seam allowances and then the facing of the piping is sewn down over the top of the casing. If the dancer decides to remove or replace the boning at some stage is just a simple matter of unpicking the piping facing, slipping the boning out and restitching.

reverse side of finished bodice

bodice interior with boning inserted

Now that the bodice is finished I move onto the skirt. I’ve taped the ruffle guide to the window and with some difficulty I have traced the lines onto the panty with chalk.

drawing on ruffle lines

tracing skirt ruffles

Taking some care not to lose the chalk markings I sew the ruffle lines onto the panty in 2 colours so I can see them. These won’t be seen on the skirt itself and the bobbin thread is black.


ruffle lines

tutu ruffles marked

There will be 9 layers in this skirt and the edges have been scalloped to match to overlay fabric that will be used. Layer 4 looks a bit bigger but it has a hooping case sewn in for hoop to be sewn in at a later date if needed. It’s much easier to do it now that trying to sew one into a completed skirt.


ruffles cut and scalloped

The ruffles are then sewn together into a long strip and gathered ready for steaming and attachment to the panty. Gone are the days when I would try to gather the ruffles using thread. It could bring me to tears when a gathering thread would break! So now I use fishing line.

fishing line

fishing line to the rescue!

I use my cording foot to hold the fishing line in place and then I just zig zag over it. Even if I run out of thread there is no drama! I love this technique. Thanks to the tutu-makers on The Sewing Forum for this tip.

fishing line zig zag

fishing line gathering

Now my ruffles are gathered and looking like a storm cloud on my window sill.

black ruffles

ruffles ready for steaming

I number the ruffles from 1-9, 1 being the longest. Layers 1 and 2 are sewn with the seam allowance pointing upwards. Layer 2 goes on first so that the layers are on the left hand side of the sewing machine, then layer 1.

layer 2 (2)

layer 2

Layers 3-9 are sewn with the seam allowance downwards. The ruffles are sewn very closely together over the hip flexor so the guidelines in different colours are very helpful.

layers 1 and 2

Guidelines for layer 3-9

From layer 3 the ruffles are sewn seam allowance downwards. This has the effect of pushing these layers upwards. Layers 1 and 2 push downwards against these layers and the resultant resistance is captured in the tacking for the traditional tutu shape.

layer 3

layer 3 seam allowance down

More layers, more pins and more sewing … I have my pins sorted into colours. For this tutu white and yellow are great for black.

layer 6

3 ruffles to go

At this stage I sew up the back panty seam and sew on the last three ruffles in the round. When that has been done the crotch seam is sewn up and elastic threaded through the casing.

size 2 hooks in panty

Size 2 hooks

The back of the panty is secured with size 2 hooks and bars. I prefer to sew in individual hooks and bars rather than using hook and eye tape as it’s less bulky.


9 layers sewn on and steamed

The layers are steamed into shape giving the ruffles a soft downward angle ready for tacking.

starting to tack


Tacking starts at the bottom with layers 9, 8 and 7  tacked together with small loops of heavy thread tied together. Then layers 7, 6 and 5 and tacked together, 5, 4 and 3 then 3, 2 and 1. The wide elastic holds layers out of the way as I work.


steamed tacked and ready for the bodice

I love this stage where the bodice and skirt have their own individual lives. The next step is making the skirt and bodice more than the sum of its parts by joining them to the basque.

petersham vs grosgrain

Petersham vs grosgrain ribbon

The basque sits between the bodice and the skirt fitting snugly around the dancer’s waist. At the waist a length of Petersham is added. Petersham (on the left) looks a lot like grosgrain ribbon but is quite different in function. While both have an attractive ridged surface, Petersham  has a flexible selvedge that assists movement. Grosgrain is a stable ribbon more useful for decoration. Its selvedge is hard and rigid.

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Like the bodice edges, the visible basque edge  is piped where is sits against the skirt. The Petersham has been sewn across the top to form the anchoring waistband.

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basque and bodice basted together

You can see here that the bodice is not completely sewn to the front. I leave the point free unless the client has a need for it to be sewn down.

At this point I realised I had not attached the internal elastic stays that keep the bodice point in place but still allow the dancer to bend backwards without her bodice slipping down. So I had to wriggle some elastic onto the basque and hand sew the ends onto the seam allowances of the centre and side front seams … there’s always something you forget isn’t there?


elastic stays


I find it easier to sew the basque and bodice together and then hand sew the basque to the skirt. It can also be done with the basque being machine sewn to the skirt first and the bodice hand sewn to the basque. It’s just a preference really.


stitching in the ditch

Once I’ve basted the bodice in place over the basque I stitch in the ditch … into the bodice piping. This is a tidy and elegant way to hide the stitching.


bodice and basque

Shoulder elastics go on next but I don’t sew them down at the back until I have the tutu on the dancer.


thimble time

I sew the basque on by hand as it’s impossible to get this ensemble under the machine. There are quite a few layers of fabric so I use a heavy upholstery or top-stitching thread, a large, sharp needle and my trusty thimble.

hooks and bars

hooks and bars

I use number 6 hooks and bars for top, waist and high hip closures and number 3 hooks and bars for the rest of the bodice back. These sizes are difficult to find in Australia (certainly number 6) so I buy them from Richard the Thread who is an America costume supplier well acquainted with the ballet world. I also get my hooping and boning from him.


et voila

So here we have it! A lovely black tutu ready for my client to decorate. This is a Suzanne Dieckmann pattern. If you’re looking for a beautiful tutu pattern you can’t go past Tutus That Dance patterns; timeless elegance!

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My 2 favourite black things

And the tutu also gets the tick of approval from Tybalt, Prince of Cats.

Pink/Gold shot organza tutu

Here is another pale coloured tutu to prove to myself I can work in subdued tones. This one is ivory satin with an overlay of pink/gold shot organza. I’ve just finished the decorations on the bodice.

a pair of  bodies

Bias cut panels will shimmer differently

The word bodice comes from the concept of a “pair of bodies” and here you can see that pair.

Lovely Ulster lace

Lovely hand-dyed Ulster lace.

gimp or gold and ivory braid

Should I go with this braid?

Absolute indecision

Or get lost on the confusion of my trims stash?

It took a while to decide on what I needed to get the look of textural confectionery I was after. The laces and braids on the side gave a lovely background but I was still stuck on how to embellish the all important centre front. I eventually remembered I had a bit of French lace stashed away that I hoped was the right pink. I snipped out a few little small bead and sequin pieces and placed these at the top of the pink embroidered applique I had in mind. All the pinks work so well together.

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Side of bodice showing Ulster lace and braids

And this is what I came up with. I’ve also adorned it with Preciosa rhinestones; ss30 Rose AB and ss20 crystal AB, ans some sweet little cup shaped sequins in pearlised white.


textured confectionery

Now for the skirt. I’ll use 9 layers of stiff ballet net and scallop the edges which will suit this fairy-tale style of tutu.


Net cut and scalloped

It makes it easier to sew the ruffles on if the sewing lines are marked, especially in such a little tutu where the distance between the layers over the hips is extremely narrow.


Lines are marked with different coloured thread

The magical part of the tutu is going from the dandelion puffball of netting sewn to the panty to the tamed flat tutu skirt that is so recognisable. The tutu layers are tamed but attaching layers to one another in such a way that they all pull together into a flat shape. For traditional tutus I will hand tack using individual knots. It’s time consuming but there’s a meditative quality about the work.


et voila! A tutu skirt!

The last stage is the skirt decoration which will imitate the bodice decoration. I have 4 large petals and 4 smaller ones to go in between. I think I’ll add the beaded french lace as I have a wee bit left.


final placement before sewing together


The braid and trim add nice definition to the bodice lines


The petals mimic the bodice design


I was aiming for “pretty”


Bodice decoration of french lace, Ulster lace, Czech rhinestones, embroidered applique and braid

Ivory Traditional Tutu

I’ve had a lovely piece of ivory delustred satin in my stash for a while now so finally decided I would make it up into a tutu … well actually 2 tutus; one in the plain satin and the other in satin with an overlay of pink and gold shot organza that was left over from another project. This post is just about the ivory tutu.

I’ve made lots of stretch tutus for young dancers but I thought I would try out a pattern I have for a girls’ size 10 traditional tutu. There’s obviously no need for spiral boning in a girl’s tutu except for a piece of flat boning in the centre front panel to keep the point of the bodice neatly tucked down. It’s removable anyway so it’s up to the dancer whether it stays in or not.

I’ve finished the bodice and basque but haven’t yet decided on the decoration yet. I’m thinking about just keeping it a textural design in ivory with perhaps some beading or rhinestones. I have a lovely large venise lace “collar” (can’t imagine an outfit with such a collar) that would actually sit rather beautifully on the top of the skirt with the excess decorating the bodice. This is still a work in progress and I will leave it for a week while I finish my daughter’s Year 12 Formal dress. The tutu skirt will be ivory but I might sneak a little bit of apricot or champagne coloured net in there.

Bodice and basque

Bodice and basque ready to be sewn together

I love the look of piped edes on traditional tutus. One day my OCD streak will get the better of me and I will work out a way of putting them onto my stretch tutus!

Suzanne's lines

This lovely pattern comes from “Tutus that Dance” by Suzanne Dieckman.

These patterns go together so beautifully and have beautiful line. I’m a self taught costumier and a good pattern is a wonderful confidence boost to reinforce … Yes Barbara you can do anything!

The point of the bodice site just on the piped edge of the basque

The point of the bodice site just on the piped edge of the basque

The mannequin is a little small for the bodice. I’m not sure how I will decorate this but I will start with some venise lace and see where I go from there.

venise lace 2

Ivory venise lace over ivory satin

The panty has been sewn to mark out the attachment for the layers of netting. There’s not much room of the hip to squeeze in 10 layers so the lines help me from going astray.


ready for gathered net

I have finally decided how to decorate this little tutu after seeing the beautiful work of Louisa Ruthven. I’m usually not a fan of sequins but when they are richly encrusted as an embellishment I think they are beautiful. This bit if hand beading took a while but was better and cheaper than therapy. I’m very pleased with the result but will leave it for a couple days before I decide if I’m done.


Pretty encrusting of sequins, bugles and seed beads

The basque is sewn on after the top 2 layers of net have been attached. The top two layers have their seam allowances pointing up. Thereafter, the seam allowances point downwards.

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basque sewn onto top of panty

 The Petersham ribbon has been sewn on as a waistband and elastic has been added to attach the bodice to the basque at the centre. I don’t sew down the point.

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steamed untacked skirt

I like to steam the layers before I tack the skirt. It helps give the right shape to the skirt.

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simple elegance

The beautiful lines of Suzanne Dieckmann’s pattern don’t need much adornment.

Sassafras … Sassy by name, sassy by nature

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she tries to help

My erstwhile assistant Sassafras actually turned up for work today. She, however, thinks that tutu skirts are giant cat sized nests. For this reason they go straight from the tacking dummy to a hanger. Sassy is most annoyed.

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She actually tried to climb onto the the hooped layer … chuckle