Sunday, 13 October 2013

Tutu Making and a Little Tip!


I've spent the last two days on the first half of a course on tutu construction at Morley College, it's amazing! I've always wanted to know how to make a tutu, plus the course description looked like it would teach me a useful thing or two to help with my everyday dressmaking. I've learnt so much already even though most of what we've done so far has been to do with pattern drafting and design.

These two weekends are all about how to construct a stretch bodice and the romantic tutu which is the longer style layered net or tulle skirt. There's other courses available in February and May next year teaching you the construction of the plate tutu and the boned bodice for dance. It's pretty likely that you'd find me there!


We've made corset blocks and stretch knicker blocks to our measurements, which are basically bodice and knicker blocks with no ease whatsoever. I love that we're using our own measurements so I've now got blocks to use for knits in future. Brigid, our amazing tutor then showed us how to remove all the darts and attach the blocks together at the waist so we've now got a leotard block!

She also showed us how to move the darts into one 'dancer's dart' which is this oddly shaped bust dart - strange huh?! Apparently it's great for giving some support and helping keep a close fitting stretch in that area for bustier ladies.


Once we had the leotard block we could add our style lines to create the look we wanted. I'm attempting to make a tutu in a similar style to these pictured below which are from the Royal Ballet's production of Swan Lake. These actually have a structured bodice but I'm just using white lycra for the main shape (with some applique detail) and then using flesh power net on the upper part of the torso to achieve the strapless look.


Brigid went through lots of pictures of tutus and unitards with us and explained how to alter the block for each. It was fantastic! I feel so much more confident about working with stretch fabrics already and I've barely touched them! Sewing wise we've so far made the 'dancer's waistband' and 'basque' which is the cotton twill piece which all the layers of net are attached to. I've just ordered my net and lycra ready for next week and I can't wait to get started.

I thought I'd share with you one of my favourite tips I've picked up so far. It's a tip to save you thread and most importantly time when sewing lots of seams one after the other. You literally sew them one after the other using a small scrap of fabric as a 'run off' piece. You sew your seam, with no back tacking, then as you get to the end feed your run off piece in under the foot after the end of your fabric. Once this is under the foot you can snip the piece you've just sewn behind the machine and proceed with the next piece, feeding it under the foot after the run off piece. Then snip off the run off piece and feed it under again when you reach the end of your second seam..and so on. I probably haven't explained that very well but here's a pic of me feeding in the elastic of the waistband behind my run off piece:


Also did you know that the word Nylon came from combining New York and London? There's a bit of trivia for you!

I promise there's some finished project posts coming soon, just waiting for it to stop being so gloomy or dark when I'm home so I can get some decent photos!

12 comments:

  1. Wow, how fun! That is seriously cool!

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    1. It really is! I was thinking maybe I should have signed up to a more everyday useful kind of course but I've absolutely got no regrets now!

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  2. Ooh this looks fun! And that's an awesome thread tip, although I think if I ran my threads off the end my machine would have a fit at me!

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    1. I thought it would make any machine have a fit but it surprisingly doesn't! I think you should try it, if you get the run off piece under the foot fairly close to your fabric I don't think you'ds have a problem on any machine

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  3. Fantastic tip on saving thread, I'll be using that one! Can't wait to see your finished tutu.

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    1. Neither can I! I'm so excited about getting started on the skirt!

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  4. This looks like so much fun. And damnit, now I want a tutu!

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    1. You could totally rock a tutu everyday! Some we looked at had a coloured/patterned circle skirt as the top layer for a more fifties look, do it!

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  5. That sounds so interesting and useful! I don't really have any particular interest in tutus, but you've made me want to do the course anyway!

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    1. I can totally recommend it! I've just finished the second weekend and so much of it was useful and relevant to everyday sewing it surprised me! Plus I can now make a tutu which is pretty cool!

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  6. Wow- what an amazing course!! :)

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    1. It was! I can't wait for the next instalment to try out the plate tutu now!

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