Ivory and Champagne Bell Tutu

Most of the tutus I make are traditional classical tutus with a relatively flat skirt. There is, however,  a  style mid-way between classical and the long romantic style; the bell tutu. The skirt is a little longer than a classical tutu and more loosely tacked.

This bell tutu has an ivory bodice and plate with gold embellishment and a champagne coloured skirt. The net has been feathered to assist the colours to blend. Usually tutu skirts are lighter than the bodice but a slighter darker skirt can look really lovely. I planned an elaborate plate to fool the eye a little.


ivory, champagne and pink net

I used gold venise lace to trim the plate. I removed the solid line from the trim so I could bend it around the curves of the plate.


venise lace

Here you can see the trim pinned to the plate. I inverted one of the heart-shaped pieces in the apex of the plate scallops to define the shape.


pinning on lace

I extended the plate into points with venise lace and gold glitter tulle.


plate points

The venise lace and points were sewn on by machine with gold metallic thread.

points attached

plate ready for rhinestones

The bodice was decorated with similar venise lace and encrusted with rhinestones. Bodice appliques were sewn on by hand on a body board to accommodate the stretch fabric.

bodice detail

bodice detail

The champagne coloured skirt looks quite pretty with the elaborate plate decoration.

skirt detail

skirt detail

The bell skirt was steamed into a soft shape. You can see here is slopes down more steeply than a typical classical skirt.


bell skirt

I was very pleased with this pretty bell tutu.



Pink and Silver tutu

Simple designs can have a really elegant effect. In this tutu I used the same decoration on the plate and the bodice. It’s a favourite of mine and clients ask for it often. Here it is starring in pink, white and silver.



I used 6 of these around the plate and trimmed the pink lycra to the shape of the applique.


applique placement for plate

Once the appliques were in place I sewed them on place using silver metallic thread. It’s much easier to sew them on before the rhinestones are glued on (AMHIK).

plate pont

plate detail

I used pink and crystal AB rhinestones. You can see where I have trimmed the lycra back to match the outline of the applique.

bodice detail

bodice detail

The bodice has lots of lovely rhinestones too, probably more than the plate actually so that there is lots of sparkle close to the dancer’s face.


Tutus by Dani pattern

I absolutely love Dani’s pattern. It has beautiful lines. She has just released some new ones that I can’t wait to get my hands onto. You should start seeing some new designs later in the year.


lovely simple design



Paquita Bell Tutu

I haven’t made a bell tutu for a while so it was lovely to get a request for one. They are made in a similar way to classical tutus but the layers are about 5-6cm longer, made with softer net and tacked more loosely so the layers float up and down a little. My client liked a Bolshoi tutu she has seen so we used that for inspiration. Here are our starting points.


Spanish tutu

concept sketch

starting point

rose lace and burgundy velvet

rhinestons on venise lace (640x424)

rhinestones on venise lace

pineapple trim (640x424)

pineapple trim

For stretch tutus I use a brilliant pattern developed by my friend and fellow tutu-maker Danielle Legge of Tutus by Dani. I transformed the pattern from a faux basque bodice to a Russian bodice and put a faux laced corset panel into it. The lacing is made from narrow strips of black lycra cut with a rotary cutter for nice smooth even lines. I just zigzagged them into place.

lacing placement (424x640)

lacing placement

The tutu skirt has 7 layers of net alternating between tulle and stiff ballet net. It is loosely tacked with 25mm gun tacks to give a soft flowing effect to the skirt but still keeping the layers attached to one another.

steamed tutu (424x640)

Russian bodice with faux corset lacing

The skirt decoration was a flat net plate decoration with 3 concentric rings of gathered lace. Because I was using lace fabric and not wide lace trim I finished the cut edge of the lace with narrow black venise lace.

top layer (640x424)

top layer of lace

For the very top layer I mounted the lace on a narrow band of black tulle for a neat finish as this will be seen. I did eventually cover it with a bit of pineapple lace but I could have just neatly folded it under and stitched it down.

top layers (424x640)

pinned layers

Here is the plate with all the layers pinned placed over the skirt to see if there needs to be any last minute tweaking. The layers were then sewn down and the red pineapple lace trim applied so it just peeked out from under each layer.  Excuse the terrible blue nail polish! I had been painting white gun tags to match the blue/green net of the sea witch tutu and I got carried away!

tagging (640x424)

catching the ruffles

The tiered ruffles need to be controlled a little so I just tacked them down from underneath the plate with my tagging guns and some lovely fine gun tags a recently found. Thanks to Karen Jackson for this fantastic technique of attaching and catching things!

front (424x640)

Draped sleeves

Instead of the sleeves just starting at the shoulder, I’ve brought them around to the front and popped a rosette on the bodice as a focal point to break up the black of the sleeves.

back (424x640)

sleeves across back

And brought them across to the centre back. I guess they are more of an off the shoulder flounce than sleeves.

front 1 (424x640)




Refurbished Practice Tutu

I’m currently refurbishing a  practice tutu into a performance costume and I’m playing with fabric combinations that will bring it to life with a bit of a Spanish flair. Here are some preliminary thoughts.


Burgundy and Claret with lovely 3D lace


Dusty rose velvet and black and lilac lace

My client has chosen the crimson 3D roses and the red burgundy stretch velvet. I’ve made up a separate leotard to go with the practice tutu. The skirt is looking lovely and I’ll finish the whole ensemble this afternoon when the glue dries on the rhinestones.


The ruby red velvet works much better with the skirt overlay I think


This is a pull-on skirt so you can just see the elastic waist band … but not from the audience

005 (2)

There’s something quite lovely about a bell tutu.

007 (2)

The 3D roses from the skirt overlay needed a bit of bling. I had fun doing this.


and a tiara to match