Final Evaluation

For Self Directed Project


I feel I have fulfilled the brief and my Learning Agreement requirements and have achieved the work I set out for myself in a professional way. I have completed a classical ballet tutu which fits the requirements from the client. I feel I have developed my skills in costume construction and have learnt many new skills which will improve my level of making in preparation for my third year of study.


From the first tutorial I was excited about the new challenge I faced and learnt what the group was expected to do. The London fabric sourcing was a beneficial experience as it allowed me to gain knowledge into the location of other fabric shops which will be useful not only in third year but in future work. From the blog tutorial I realized I was not using my blog effectively, therefore from here on I updated it regularly. I have mainly used my blog to reflect and evaluate my work, things I have learnt. Writing these self reflections has enabled me to take a step back from my work and realise what I am learning.


Working in a team on this project has been a good experience in not only preparation for possible future work but also because we were able to support each other during the making process. This will be beneficial for third year when I work on a production. I feel I have had the opportunity to and have approached my work in a professional manor such as the fitting which was carried out in a professional environment . This experience will be useful in fittings during my third year.


I believe my skills in costume construction have developed and I feel I have progressed as a maker by facing construction challenges and issues, and learning to overcome them. I feel I am beginning to gain some quality control over my work in the sense that I am aware some of the time when something needs to be sorted. This will be highly useful if I can develop this further for and during third year. I felt the standard and fit of my costume was good. I thought the fitting went well and I did not have as many alterations to make as I expected.


In my Learning Agreement I stated that one reason for doing this project was to challenge myself which I have certainty done. This costume was challenging to construct and has presented me with many difficulties which I have had to overcome. One example of this was working with new fabrics which can be difficult knowing how to handle them. However this problem will help me in the future because if I come across similar fabrics I will know how to handle them. Although a few aspects have gone wrong within this project I feel I have tried my hardest to keep going and to put things right. For example the pleating of the tutu which I originally sewed wrong, upon assessing the time I had until the next tutorial and the amount of work I had to do in that time I figured I would have time to correct my mistake. I think I judged quite well because I did not fall behind with my work or other aspects of the course. This I believe was a good use of time management and something which I can take on board in future situations.


Although I understand this project was self directed and we were meant to be progressing on our own, I felt the group could have gained more if the workshops were not quite so rushed. I also feel at times, aspects of the construction were not explained as fully as they could have been considering this was something none of us had ever done before. I think the timetable for the workshops could have been spaced out more effectively, for example the couple of weeks before the fitting there was not a great deal of practical work to complete whereas in the week proceeding the fitting there was a lot of work to do. One way in which this could have been prevented would have been to have the fitting earlier if that was possible.


Now that I have achieved what I set out to do in my Learning Agreement I have now learnt how to make a classical ballet costume, and understand how it is constructed, gained a wider knowledge into the art of ballet, improved and widened my making skills, and worked under a lot of pressure and to tight deadlines at times. If I had more time on this project I would liked to have had time to sew on the braid to the bodice which I will now complete after hand-in.


Although my workbook is quite large I felt it was important to have a clear and in depth step by step of the making process because this was such a different and complex costume to make. I feel that my notes will help me in the future if was to make a classical ballet tutu again. I feel it will also be of more use to me in a workbook form rather than in my blog because I have a hard copy of it which is easily accessible.

Fitting Notes and Evaluation

Evaluatuing the Fitting

The fitting was held at Arts Ed' so I had to travel to London to get the costume fitted to one of the students there. I felt the fitting went reasonably well. The general fit of the costume was fairly good particularly the tutu. I was pleased with this especially because this was the first time I have ever attempted a classical ballet costume. The bodice needed a few alterations to make it fit snug to the artists body. These were achieved by taking in the bust seam from just under the bust, the seam next to the CB and lengthening the shoulder seam a little. i felt that these alterations not only improved the fit of the costume but also made the bodice much more aesthetic appealing. None of these alterations hindered the neckline. However as a couple of the seam had to be altered I will need to look at the decoration lines across these seams and adapt these slightly. Before the fitting I was apprehensive about the fit of the costume, particularly be as I did not take the measurements so I could not visualize the size of the artist. Also because I was not sure how well adapting a pattern would work compared to making a block/padding out a mannequin to the artists measurements. I was also apprehensive about whether I had made the costume correctly especially as i have never made dancewear before.

I believe I behaved in a professional manor throughout the fitting of my costume. Although the fitting was in a different but professional environment I felt fairly confident carrying out the fitting. I felt I interacted quite well with the artists a points during the fitting both to let her know what I was about to do and asking her how the costume felt but also asking her about her courses and dance. I felt I was well prepared and organized with all the equipment I needed and that the costume was at the stage it should have been for the fitting.

Following the fitting we had a group meeting about how we thought our fittings went, and to discuss aspects of the costume such as applying the decoration regarding the time we had left. We also discussed what we could do before the next workshop which included altering the bodice and preparing the facing for the plate. Following this meeting I wrote a list off all the things that needed to be done on the costume ready for hand-in, in order for me to try and judge what I could aim to achieve each day. From both completing this list and the meeting I am very worried about being able to finish everything in time for hand-in and to a good standard.

Fitting Notes


When fitting ballet costumes or any other form of dance costume always use safety pins instead of normal pins.

Put costume on artist and make sure the waistband is sitting on her waist.

Pin CB with safety pins matching at bust and waistlines. No alterations were necessary on the CB.


The shoulder seam was not sitting on her shoulder correctly as is was too tight. To overcome this problem I snipped open the shoulder seam and re-pinned 0.5cm above original seam line on both front and back.

Take in the seam next to the CB 0.5cm all the way down to reduce the slight gaping.

Take the bust seam in from under the bust (3cm down from the bust line) 0.5cm in all the way down. Smooth seam intake over bust up to nothing at design line at neck.

Leg openings were fine.

Crotch was fine during the fitting. However I altered this before the fitting because I thought the knickers were being pulled in too tightly so I moved the seam into the seam allowance by 1” to make it bigger.

NOTE:- When marking up the alterations take from the side of the pin nearest to the original seam.

- When taking in/out a seam leave old seam in for the time being. Sew new seam the unpick old seam.

Research Summary

The research file I have composed for this project has enabled me to get an insight and understanding into the world and art of ballet. The history of ballet was not only interesting but it helped to gain a brief knowledge into the background of how ballet started and how it has developed over the centuries. The research I have completed has furthermore enlightened me into why the costumes of ballet generally show majority of the leg (with the classical tutu) or at least the feet. This is done to show off the amazingly complex leg and feet movements and techniques, which also allow the audience to appreciate it.

My research into ballet costumes has also been interesting and useful because my images have enables me to see the types of costumes used in classical ballets and to gain the knowledge of the types of costumes and how they have changed through history. I found the research into tutu construction interesting as in there are other ways to construct a tutu. However I found it hard to find much on the construction of classical tutu's as there does not seem to much available and the one book I did find in the library which looked promising turned out to be written in French.

Ballets I have watched in the last 2 years including, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and La Bayadère. However I wanted to refresh my memory of the art so I watched a couple of ballet performance on DVD from the Uni library including The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet was a modern ballet in the sense of the costumes which appeared particularly futuristic influenced. The Nutcracker was a classical ballet whose costumes were stunning.

I have furthermore looked into positions, poses and movements within ballet. This has also enabled me to understand the strain in which a ballet costumes takes during a performance and would therefore need to be constructed well to last a reasonable amount of time and to be able to withstand the impact of the dancer's complex jumps, pirouettes, being lifted by the male dancer and other movements.

Overall from my research I have gained knowledge and understanding into ballet and its costumes which has not only been interesting but has also helped me to understand my project more and the requirements from the client which was to make a classical plate tutu and the sort of movements that will be performed in the costumeb I make.

Notes on a classical plate tutu.

  • The bodice is made up of 12 or more panels meaning it has more seams in it so the bodice can curve easily to the body to get a nice fit. The panels also allows for movement. The bodice is supposed to act as a second skin.

  • The bodice will sit over the hips with the plate sewn on separately.
  • Older style or making a classical tutu's the bodice will finish at the waist with the basque visible and in the same or contrasting fabric as the bodice.
  • The bodice is attached to the basque and waistband which is then sewn to the top of the knickers.

  • The seams are sewn on the outside on the basque and waistband.
  • The layers of net are sewn onto the knickers.
  • A 12 layer tutu is the most common in classical tutus.

  • Stringing: - Thread going through the tutu which all meet at the hoop.

    - None of the stringing is pulled tightly

    - Its purpose is to hold the layers in place so they do not fall separately when the dancers makes her jumps etc.

  • To soften layers of net either a scalloped or a danged edge is used. This is used because the tutu net is quite scratchy and could irritate partnering dancers of catch on their costumes.

  • The scallops or dangs get larger as the tutu goes out. There are generally three sizes of scallops/dangs – small, medium and large.

  • Pleating – needs to be adapted accordingly as layers closest to the legs are shorter in length than the top layers which can be up to 5 times longer to allow for larger and more pleats.

  • There is a hoop sewn on the 7th layer up from the bottom.

  • All layers below the hoop are sew upwards
  • All layers above the hoop are sewn downwards.
  • We will be making a white tutu with one layer of colour net as the top layer.
  • Viscose Satin will be used on the insert decoration and will be dyed the same colour as the top layer of net.
  • The sleeves will be simple. They will be left open under the arm to allow Arts Ed to alter them in the future.

Ballet Bodice

  • More panels = more shape
  • 12 panels is the minimum
  • Before drafting on a stand a ballet maker tends to "map" out the seam lines with cotton tape on the mannequin. This gives them chance to play around with the look and shape of the bodice before cutting into the calico.

Ballet Sleeves

  • Generally 1 piece and 2 piece sleeves are used.
  • Often gussets are inserted under the arm to allow for more movement.
  • Recently a 3 pieces sleeve has been developed which is used in men's costumes more. This is where the undersleeve, that would normally be in a 2 piece sleeve is split in 2.
  • The costumes need enough fabric under the arms to allow dancers to move and lift their arms without the whole costume rising with them – it should remain in the seam place,
  • The sleeve head becomes really shallow. Often gussets are incorporated into the sleeve pattern itself

  • For a male costume of a doublet the dancer would wear a Lycra top which has a wide patch of fabric around the armhole in the same fabric as the doublet. The doublet sleeve would be attached to this. The then sleeveless double is worn over the top of this. Tends to only be used by supporting artist rather than principles.
  • The sleeve band worn around the upper arm on a female dancer is made from a band which has gum tape sewn to up to make it stick to the skin. The decoration is then sewn to the band.

This is what the tutu looks like so far. I have finished the practicle work until the next tutorial.

Sewing on the plate really started to make the tutu 'come to life' and I can see that it will probably look really nice when it is finished.

From today's study I have managed to get quite a lot done. I took a paper copy of the underplate, cut out and tacked the plate, sewed on the fastenings and sewed on the two sections to the plate.

I will use this week leading up to the next tutorial to get up to date with my workbook and research file.

I have managed to re-do my tutu now which I am really pleased about and I am not behind which is good. I wrote down all the things I needed to do in the time I had and I estimated that if I worked hard I could get it done. I feel a lot happier about my work with correcting it. From re-doing it I have learnt better time management and how to pleat the tutu in the correct way. the time management is something i can carry on itto third year.