the Golden Hours tutu

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!



31 thoughts on “the Golden Hours tutu

  1. If I wanted a doll “glitz dress” (The dresses with a big tutu and top that have lots of sparkles,pageant dress) How much would it cost? If I wanted a white one with a nice sparkly top and a white skirt

    • Hi Mackenzie!
      It’d probably be in the $150-200 range, depending on the specifics of the design. If you’re interested, send us an email (melodyvalerie [at] and we can set you up!

      • Ok πŸ™‚ I am saving up so I may be able to buy it! also would the price cover the skirt,and the shirt with diamonds?

      • Well, it depends on what you had in mind — but yes, I was imagining a bodice/skirt combination, with lots of sparkle =)

    • Yes, it’s a silk/cotton blend satin; very lightweight, and shiny on one side. It’s one of my favorite fabrics for doll wear. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m still learning what types of fabric to use when making formal clothes or costumes. Some satin becomes a royal mess when using it. It’s important to check the content of all fabric before bringing it home when venturing away from pure cotton because the info is rarely on the receipt. I notice that you often describe the content of your dresses.

    • Yes, I like to know (and note) what kinds of fibers are in the fabrics I’m using, especially if it’s an unusual sort of fabric. Satins can be tricky, especially the cheap polyester satins which can be a real pain to work with. But, as you keep experimenting, you’ll figure out what you like to use, and what works well for you.
      Also, “satin” is technically the name of a weave of fabric, not a fiber content, so you can have a satin made from polyester, silk, or even cotton (although I think that’s usually called a ‘sateen’). It’s a fun world out there, and I’m glad you’re exploring it!

  3. That is just beautiful! I’d like to make one sometime, but probably wouldn’t have the patience 😦
    I think I might stick to making Irish dancing costumes for Melody instead, considering that’s what I’m into.
    Your clothes are always so beautiful, and so professional! Could you perhaps do a post with some tips for us more novice sewers, of how you do it? Thanks!

    • Hi Dianna! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚ Currently we don’t have a pattern out for this tutu, it would be lovely to have one though, wouldn’t it?

    • Thanks for your kind comment! This tutu just has the iron-on Swarovski crystals, no pearls — but pearls would be lovely too, wouldn’t they?

  4. My goodness this is stunning! My ballet-loving daughter saw this and flipped over the abundance of pink, ruffles and the “pancake tutu”! Lol. How did you close it in the back? Are those snaps or hooks?

    • Isn’t it just superbly girly? πŸ™‚ Thanks for your kind comment! It closes up the back with hooks and hand-worked thread bars.

    • Hi Marlene! This particular kind of silk cotton is called “Radiance”, I think it’s by Robert Kauffman? I buy it at my local fabric haunts, but I am pretty sure you can find it online too πŸ™‚

  5. I love this! I’m working on our children’s Christmas Program for church, and it has a ballerina in it, a human one and a doll one! I’m thinking about trying this for them. That’s gonna be a lot of tulle…….lol. πŸ™‚

  6. I love this pattern such a good Job. do you have the pattern for sale. I do have alot of your patterns.

  7. This is wonderful! I am in the process of making a cloth ballerina doll for my granddaughter, and this would be perfect for the costume. (and her favorite color is pink!) Many thanks for sharing!

  8. This costume is absolutely beautiful. I have been making ballet and other dance costumes for my granddaughter’s dolls which match her recital costumes for the past few years. Could you tell me what the basque looks like and how you attached the bodice to the tutu? This has always been challenging to me. Thanks.

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