One of our most interesting recent challenges was this custom order, a tutu recreated from the NYC Ballet’s production of Coppelia.
In our process of researching tutus, we discovered that real, upper crust ballerina tutus can take hundreds of hours to make. They look effortless, but here’s some of what went into making ours.
First, we started with seven layers of tulle about 100″ long, and each slightly shorter than the one above it. Mostly of the layers are a soft beige tulle, but for a little color subtletly, we mixed in a few pink and blue layers. We also stitched two rows of ribbon onto the top layer.
Then we gathered each layer individually onto a ‘basque’, or little panty, at about 1/4″ intervals. As you can imagine, once all the layers were on, it was terrifically poofy!
Next, using invisible thread, we carefully tacked the layers together at strategic intervals. (This technique holds the layers together without squishing them unduly.) We topped off the tutu with two rows of petals, some adorned with Swarovski crystals. To give the whole tutu a little more ‘gravitas’, we put tiny weights in the bottom row of petals.
The bodice presented its own unique challenges — from the source photographs we could tell there was some kind of decoration on the front, but its exact nature wasn’t very clear. In the end, we machine-stitched a looped design in a light pink thread, then hand-whipped a darker pink thread around each stitch for a little more definition. Crowned with a few more crystals, the tutu was complete — and ready for dancing!