Mary’s Ballet Costuming Page

My daughter is a dancer and has been in The Nutcracker for the last 10+ years, so I have also had the opportunity to make some dance costumes for her school’s production.

Mary’s Own Petticoat Patttern – In 2004, I took on the task of making new petticoats for all the girls in the opening scene and came up with my own petticoat pattern, because I couldn’t find any that were full enough.

Finding Time to Sew, an article by Stephen Bergdahl. Good suggestions on how to organize your sewing room & supplies.


The Tutu Project

My daughter & I decided to make a tutu to enter in our local county fair. She decided that she wanted to use the Karinska “Theme and Variations” tutus as inspiration.

The color palette she chose is a buttery yellow, with olive and rust accents.

Preparing the layers of net.
First we measured and cut each tutu layer from net. Each layer is pinned together and lableled. We decided to scallop the layers, so each piece had to be folded and the scallop shape was cut on one end.

Preparing the tutu panty.
I made a copy of the panty pattern. On the pattern are the lines for the layers of netting. The panty is cut from power net and each line is transferred to the fabric. Once the panty pieces are sewn together, the layer lines are basted so that they don’t disappear and are easier to see.

Next the “butt ruffles” and “panty ruffles” are attached. These are just tiny net or tulle ruffles that are added to make the panty less see through.

Gathering the net layers.
I used my ruffling attachment to gather the pieces of net for each layer. For the previous tutu that I made (the Black Swan tutu below), I had pleated and ironed each layer. It was very tedious and time consuming. I doubt I’ll ever do it that way again! Maybe just the top one or two layers...

Attaching the net layers.
Next, I attached the gathered layers of net to the panty. This part requires a lot of care that you keep the layers even and don’t accidentally sew over a previous layer. (not that I ever did that... noooo.....)

We started with one of the bodice patterns and modified them to get the effect similar to the inspiration tutu. I’m not very adept at patterning and fitting, so this was the most difficult part for me.

More to come...
The project has been on hiatus for a while. Due to set backs with the bodice customizations, dissatisfaction with the color pallette (on my daughter’s part), and other commitments, the “Great Tutu Project” has been put on hold.

Ballet Costumes

Black Swan tutu for my daughter’s performance in “Swan Lake.” Second tutu that I made, but this time I made not only the bodice and plate, but the actual net tutu, too.

I used the patterns & instructions from The bodice is made from their 10-piece bodice pattern, with some minor modifications.

(Original, blurry pictures taken during dress rehearsal)

Red spanish style tutu for my daughter’s performance of a piece from “Paquita.” This is the first tutu I ever made! Started with a prom dress pattern for the bodice and improvised from there. (Bodice and tutu “plate” are shown over a purchased practice tutu.)

This is one of two starfish costumes that I made in 2002 for the Sonoma County Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker.” This company does the Arabian scene as The Sea Scene, with mermaids, starfish, a sea monster, etc.

The material is sequined dot material, attached to thin foam for the back layer. I never, ever want to sew with either of these materials again!

I didn’t use any pattern, just drew large, elongated star shapes on muslin. The face holes came out too big, and I tried to fill in with some scraps. They now use drawstrings to close the opening up more.

I think they turned out pretty good for my first stab at this type of costume!

This is the man’s Chinese costume that I made for the 2003 season. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any better photos of the costume at this time.

I traced a Chinese style dragon on the back of the shirts, outlined it with gold sequins, filled it in with black seqiuns, and used red seqiuns for the eyes, tongue and claws. You can barely see the dragon in the left photo, because the man’s hair blocks most of it.

The costume is made from black satin with a (very shred-dy) metallic fabric for trim. I used a Vogue pattern for the top and a scrubs pattern for the pants.

For the 2005 season, I made a new Clara dress for the party scene in Act I, because all of the old ones were too big for our tiny Clara! I started with a prom pattern that had a princess searm bodice similar to the shape that the director wanted and modified it “to taste.”

The costume is made from fabrics found out the local chain fabric store: “antique gold” satin for the skirt and sleeves, red velvet and red brocade for the bodice, and miscellaneous gold trims for the decorations. I’m pretty proud of how it came out.

For the 2006 season, I made a new Sugar Plum Cavalier costume, to match the new Sugar Plum Fairy costume made by one of the teachers. The colors are off, as in real life they are more purple and the lighter color is actually silver.

The first picture shows the SPF tutu, so that you can see how they complement each other.

For 2004, I made 6 new petticoats for the girls in the opening party scene. Ruffles, ruffles, ruffles, ruffles... But no pictures! I came up with my own pattern, with its basis in a commercial pattern.


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