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