A Suite of Contemporary Costumes

Here are three ready-to-wear costumes and  one commissioned costume I have made recently.

The nude mesh on the upper bodice gives a lovely effect of the lacy appliques floating on the dancer’s skin. The cosmic mesh skirt adds a little bit of sparkle.

Rhinestones on the nude mesh add to the ethereal effect of the floating appliques.

Here is a little pink costumes in a similar style with a soft flowing skirt. The deep V front is backed with powernet for coverage. The mesh used for the upper bodice and skirt has holographic dots for extra sparkle.

The pretty pink appliques have been made with a graded thread so there is a lovely palette of random pinks across the costume.

And another in a similar style with a cream bodice and double skirt in white mesh.

This lovely little costumes has an ombre skirt and a ruched bodice. I added a little bit of French lace for some subtle bling.

And 2 pictures of Eloise in action.




Three ways with the Silver-white lace

Finding lace and trimmings for costumes is a never-ending task; EBay, Aliexpress, op-shops, generous gifts all make for a lively versatile inventory. But sometimes you can get stuck. Well here’s how I used white and silver in three different ways – not because I’d run out of ideas but because 3 separate clients all chose similar pretty lace for white lyrical costumes.


Silver sequin lace from Spotlight (the rhinestones were my addition)

This lace is readily available from Spotlight stores on Australia and New Zealand. It’s quite versatile but is becoming a little overused. So circumstances call for some creativity to reinvent this useful fabric. In the picture above it is overlaid on knitted lace and has a few rhinestones added.


Stretch lace over lycra

In the first costume the motifs from the lace were blinged up with crystal AB rhinestones and used to decorate the skirt and bodice of the costume.


close up of lace motif on upper bodice

The sequin lace blends beautifully into the lycra/stretch lace combo.


back view

The lace motifs are continued around the back of the bodice and onto the lace sleeve. This is a lovely simple costume for a young dancer. The current trend for bare midriff is included but with plenty of coverage elsewhere.

The second costume is a lyrical with a long stretch mesh skirt.

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White Lyrical costume using silver lace

In this case the a corded silver lace covers the seam between the lycra and the white sequin mesh on the upper bodice. I’ve condensed space between the motifs to give a more solid silvery effect.


close up of back

The Spotlight lace could easily have been used here as well with a similar effect.


back keyhole

The addition of the corded lace over the seam between the lycra and the white sequin mesh gives the impression of a more complex lace fabric overall.

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Pastel detailing

The final white costume required soft pastel colours so I thought a bit of hand painting might work well. You can see this is the same lace that was used in the first costume.

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just like colouring in

The apliques were placed on the bodice and continued around onto the back of the skirt.

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hand painted motifs added to costume

While the colours look a little bright here, under stage lights they fade to lovely soft shades.

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appliques on nude mesh

The motifs again were placed over the seam between the upper and lower bodice,


a few rhinestones added some stronger colour points

And below is the finished costume. So you can see there are plenty of options for creating white and silver costumes.


soft pastels with white and silver

Charcoal and Cream Contemporary

This contemporary costume is a beautiful and elegant combination of charcoal lycra and cream stretch mesh with a splash of crystal AB rhinestones.


lots of lovely bling

The leotard was made up in charcoal lycra with a cream stretch mesh empire line skirt. The 2 colour bodice was heavily stoned using a combination of ss30, ss20, ss16 and ss10 crystal AB rhinestones.

bodice detail

bodice detail

I started with a central line of stones and then worked outwards making a random pattern that diffused towards the edges with the smallest stones.


deep back

This costume was adapted from one of my favourite Kwiksew pattern KS 2601 which is now  unfortunately out of print. It’s so adaptable and the deep back is beautiful.


finished costume

I do like making costumes like this that are just a little off-trend. There’s nothing like feeling a little special backstage with a costume that doesn’t look like a catalogue piece.

Blue and Fuchsia Contemporary

On a recent trip to Indonesia, my brother brought home some bright new lace for me. While it wasn’t quite what I might use on a tutu it did pique the interest of one of my clients for a new contemporary costume.


The lace is turquoise net with fuchsia embroidery and blue sequins

The lace itself was a greenish turquoise but it blended beautifully with the royal blue lycra. On the back here I have sewn additional appliques across the top of the gathered lace and onto the waistband.


Appliques on bodice

I decorated the crop top with appliques and rhinestones.


all ready for the stage


Burgundy Contemporary costume

This costume uses a lovely combination of burgundy and wine red fabrics as well as a dusty rose sequinned lace. I love finding unusual fabrics that sing together beautifully. On the back of the skirt you can see the wine coloured lycra, burgundy skirt and dusty rose lace edge.

back detail

back detail

I used some of the motifs from centre of the lace to decorate the crop top as well as augmenting the lace with burgundy and crystal AB rhinestones.


front detail

The costume was for a young dancer so a crop top was preferred over a bra top. We made the back a little fancy for her though with a strappy cross-over. The diagonally placed applique continued around the back just a little.


back detail



completed costume



Emily is not only a talented ballerina (Apricot and Ivory Traditional tutu 8th April 2014) but a very strong and accomplished contemporary dancer. I was asked to make a Cirque de Soleil style unitard for her Spider contemporary piece. I foolishly didn’t take any photos during construction but I’ve recently received photos from backstage at the eisteddfod.


Spider unitard

The back is deep wide and open. I used a glittery black lycra for the contrast trim and a heavily sequinned motif on the front. There are long stripes on the front of the legs and underneath the arms. I designed the black shape on the back to make her look like a B&W version of the Australian red back spider.


unitard back

And what does a dancer do backstage waiting for her call? Method acting!


spider on the wall


A client came to me a while ago for a tutu and asked if I’d make her a Maleficent costume as well. They wanted wings that could be easily removed in the early part of the choreography. Now before you get too excited, I don’t know ow to make wings and certainly not easily removable ones so I accepted the tutu job but sent them off to a costumier I knew in Bondi that does this sort of thing.

When they cam back for a tutu fitting they said they’d changed their mind about wings and could I make a costume with a removable long floaty cape. Oh yes … now that was right up my alley. Three metres of 6 momme tissue silk and a handful of magnets and here we go!


The costumier’s friends

Anything that is removed on stage in front of an audience needs to be done deftly and silently. Velcro won’t do it and snaps need serious pull to dislodge. For quick change costumes you best friend is a magnet. I use 12mm x 2mm neodimium magnets. They have a pull of about 600g and with 6 pairs of them I figured it would be enough for 3 metres of beautiful floaty tissue silk.

covered magnets

covered magnets

The magnets had to be placed inside the black mesh of a unitard so I covered them with flesh coloured powernet and sewed them into the costume across the back of the shoulders.

magnet sewn in

magnet sewn in

My aim was to have as little fabric as possible between the north and south poles of the magnets (It’s important to get that right!) so I didn’t sew them over seams.


magnet sewn in

Now while the magnets can be seen close up, at 5m they disappear and considering the audience is generally at 15 m they are for all intents and purposes invisible. The matching pair of the magnet was in the edge of the cape with just one layer of silk over it.

magnet in cape

magnet in cape

The magnets in the cape and across the back of the costume lined up and gave the look of a firmly fixed cape.

magnets atachment pts

magnet attachment points

The cape is 1.5 m long and 3m wide gathered and steamed onto a band the width of the back. Small magnets were also inserted into the wrist of the costume to give the impression of wings: Mission accomplished .. and NO WINGS!

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back of cape

When the cape is removed a deep low back is revealed on a black velvet unitard with gold embossing.

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deep back

Maleficent with her evil black silk cape.