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.

During this workshop the group was told to unpick our bodices and start again because the fabric was too wrinkly. To correct this we pressed both sides of the fabric putting weight onto the iron and ironed some stayflex onto the top fabric pattern pieces. The pressing flattened the fabric and reduced the wrinkles but not entirely as the fabric has a natural crease in it. After completing my bodice for the second time I certainly noticed the difference compared to the scrap pieces of fabric I had not pressed. The bodice looks a lot better and I am pleased with it.

We was also told that the net we dyed to match our bodice fabric needed to be re-dyed to be toned down and made darker. As the net is nylon it does not soak up much dye meaning it was hard to tone down the pink and make darker. After dying some samples I used this dye recipe:

10l cold water
1 cup soda ash
1 cup salt
2tsp Rust Orange
2 1/2 tsp Dark Brown
1/16 tsp Black

Left for 1 hour
Spun and left to dry

I am pleased with the second colour of the net, it is a lot more muted down than before and matches more with the bodice.

From these two changes I have learnt that I should have been more aware of what was happening to the bodice fabric and done something about it or discussed with the group solutions in which we could over come this problem. From the dye I have learnt more about mixing different dyes and that the colour you want may include some surprising dye colours to get there.

I am enjoying working as part of a team. I feel that we are all helping each other whilst still working on out own individual tutus. particularly in the dye room, we all work well together. whilst trying to find our own colours some of us ended up finding someone else's colour. I think we work well as a group which is good practice for when/if any of us decide to work in a workroom in the future.

I found it quite hard to get the right colours with the three different types of fabric: Brocade, DN77 Net and Viscose. The brocade was particularly challenging. I tried a mixture or pinks and scarlets to try and get the correct pink for the brocade but most of them were turning out orange. In the end I found just Lilac Procyon dye on its own work well to get a good pink for the brocade. On the right is a photo of the dyed brocade. I think it looks really effective and it will work well with the other colours of the other tutus in the group. The net was difficult to dye. I found that if I rinsed the fabric as soon as it came out of the dye, the dye just washed straight out where as if I left the fabric to sit for 5mins or spun the fabric in the spinner after taking it out of the dye and before rinsing it, the dye stayed in a lot better. The viscose came out a little light but I think it works well with the other colours. If need be this could always be dyes again.

All the dyes were cold water dyes. Theses are the dye recipes which I used:


2 cups Soda Ash

2 cups Salt

20L Cold water

5 ½ tsp lilac dye

Left for 5mins

1cup Soda Ash

1cup Salt

10L Cold Water

¼ tsp lilac

10 spatula tips Carmine Red

Left for 30 seconds

DN77 Net

1cup Soda Ash

1cup Salt

10L Cold Water

1 ¼ tsp magenta

1 ¼ tsp scarlet

Spatula tip black

Mapping out the seam placements

Drafted Bodice

I enjoyed the recent workshop of drafting a bodice on a mannequin. I found the new technique of mapping a bodice out on the stand with cotton tape first a much better way of working that just pinning calico straight onto the stand and drawing on the seams. I felt that this way was much more accurate in the way that I could keep altering the lines until I was happy with them without waisting any fabric. Also, it helped me to visualize the bodice more clearly. I look forward to trying out this new techniques in the future.
The altering of the flat cutting bodice was fairly simple. I only had to take off 2mm at the bust and 1mm at the waist. I think it would have been good if we had had the chance to also try drafting the bodice pattern flat just so we could learn both ways.

From the recent workshops, I have learnt quite a few new skills which will be useful not only in ballet but in future work with making in general. For example I found the tutor's "quick tips" on flat and mark tacking, and cutting out useful as well as the pressing the iron over the backing fabric when it is lying on the top fabric to make them lie together better. I also liked the idea of mapping out seam lines with cotton tape onto a mannequin instead of trying to do it when there is already calico on the stand. The cotton tape lines also helpped me to visualize what the bodice could look like and gave me a chance to alter the seam placements, before I started cutting into the calico. I will definitely use these techniques in the future because they will help me with the speed of my work and the precision of drafting seams in better places.

I enjoyed the fabric sourcing task to London I was set. Before I went I was a little anxious about the idea of fabric sourcing because it was not something I have done before where I would be choosing the fabrics for a client. However I found it quite exciting going around the fabric shops, which I have never been to before and to explore their fabric ranges. To prepare for our sourcing trip myself and another student researched the fabric shops and their locations so we would know where to go. Most of the shops where in or around Shepards Bush Market apart from the trimming shop which was off of Oxford Street. During the tutorial we were giving the task of sourcing a gold brocade for the bodice which had a budget limit of £12m and Spanish Gold Russia Braid about 3mm wide.

The first couple of shops I went into on Goldhawk Road I didn't find anything suitable. I was worried that we might have came all that way and not find any fabric remotely like the bodice fabric. We got as many gold brocade samples we could find (and were allowed to have) which could have been suitable for the bodice fabric. It was difficult as gold brocade seemed pretty limited in most shops but we did the best we could be visiting all the fabric shops we could find. All the samples we got were well under the budget the most expensive being £8m. I thought Shepards Bush Market was the best place for the fabrics because they had more fabrics which were suitable for what we were looking for.

From this experience I have learnt a great deal, in particular what it is like to source fabric for a client. I have learnt about new places for fabric sourcing/shopping, which will come in useful in the future. I have also learnt that it is good to use some initiative in that there was not any fabric exactly like the original but I brought back as many samples as I could which would enable the client to have more of a selection to choose from. With a couple of the fabrics that had a pattern on I took a photo of on my phone but if I was ever to do fabric sourcing again I would take my camera with me as it takes better photos than my phone and try to remember to take photos of all fabrics so the client can get an idea of the pattern which cannot be shown on a small sample. I thought we did well on recoding the information for each fabric sample and hope it was useful when it came to ordering the fabric.

Upon returning to Uni after the Easter holiday I found out that I had pleated my tutu entirely wrong. I was upset that I had made such a huge mistake and misunderstood the instructions, especially as I struggled with the work over the holiday due to family circumstances. When I came to do the pleating I was a little confused how to do it so I emailed other members of the group, I tried researching on the Internet and I looked at photographs I took of a tutu in one of the workshops all to try and help me understand. I thought I understood how to do this and proceeded to construct the tutu. I would have phoned my tutor but I did not have his home phone number.

From my mistake I have learnt that I needed to try and recognize that I am doing something wrong before I go too far and think of other ways in which I could find out what to do. One way I could do this if it is possible or available is to find a primary research of the costume to look at to see how it is done.

Due to time restraints and deadlines I will be unable to unpick and re-pleat my tutu meaning I will have to do it in the summer. However if I do have enough time before the fitting I will try to re-do this and just hope that I get it right the second time. I hope I do get time to do this because I do not like the idea of handing in something that is wrong, especially when it is intended for a client. I feel really irritated with myself for making this mistake and putting more work on myself when I am already struggling. When I do correct my mistake I will at least learn how to pleat correctly.

These are some of the notes I took during my blog tutorial.
During this tutorial we discussed my blog and I realized that I am not using my blog enough which means I need to be putting more of my thoughts and evaluative points down on here to meet the purposes of keeping this blog. I will therefore aim to update this more regularly than I have been. In the tutorial we discussed what I have been learning within this project and how I can use what I learn in the future. We mainly discussed my tutu which I have pleated wrong and that I will need to correct it at a later date. However if I was to re-do it now I would fall behind on other aspects of the tutu such as the bodice and other deadlines like the POP essay. I would have liked to have corrected my tutu as I do not usually like to leave something I have done wrong, I usually keep re-doing something until I am happy with it, however I will take the tutors advise on board and either correct the tutu in the summer as suggested or if I have time before the end of the project.

I have finally finished making the skirt of my tutu. It took a very long time to make and a lot of unpicking and readjusting of the layers was involved to get it right. I found the pleating quite a challenge to get to the right measurement and sewing the layers on was fairly difficult towards the top layers due to the amount of fabric. Once all the layers were sewn on I could begin to see the form of the tutu taking place.

In this unit I will develop my skills in costume construction into a new area of costume. This will be achieved by exploring the construction of costume in the form of ballet. I will apply practical and creative skills I have gained from previous units and develop these skills by completing a set of dancewear workshops and self directed learning as well as working as part of a team with other members of the group making the final outcome of a classical tutu. Within this unit I will broaden my knowledge of costume into the area of ballet by researching into the history of ballet to gain an understanding of the art itself and how it began and how it has developed over time into what we associate ballet as today. In addition to this, I will also research into the types of ballet costumes which are used in performance.

In this unit I will work with clients from Arts Ed to replicate, (to an extent) one of their classical ballet tutu’s, which they will use as part of their costume stock in next years dance performance. At the end of the project I will have a chance to have the costume photographed professionally.

From completing this project I will have gained the knowledge and understanding as to how a classical tutu is constructed in modern day industry by constructing one myself. I will also gain background knowledge into the creative art of ballet.

I have decided to construct a classical tutu for my Self Directed Project because I want to be challenged on a whole know level away from anything I have produced on this course so far. Furthermore I will be able to achieve a completely new set of skills in the area of dancewear which is something I have not yet covered. These newly acquired skills will possibly open more doors for me when I come to work in the industry. Another reason which directed me to choosing this option, was because I am interested in and have wanted to learn how the construction of a classic ballet tutu works. This project will allow me to improve on pattern cutting and draping on a stand as well as gaining experience in working with different fabrics. Also I will gain broaden my knowledge and understanding of costume construction. In this unit I am hoping to learn how to make a classical tutu and improve my team skills by working as a team with the rest of the group. I am also hoping to gain a lot of knowledge into ballet through my research with will help me to understand ballet.

For this project I will:

- Produce a ballet costume which reflects on the original whilst incorporating modern construction techniques.

- Compile a research file relevant to the area your of study. This should include an overview of the history of ballet and the different styles of ballet costumes as well as images to back up research.

- Produce step by step write-up on new techniques.

- Within the Blog you should write reflections on tutorials and fittings.

- This should all be under pinned by personal development planning (in your blog journal) and a final written evaluation (750 words) evidenced in your Progress File.

Yesterday was the first ballet workshop. Here we were given the task of completing the waistband, basque and knickers. I cut out my fabric for these and made a start on the waistband only to have misread the instructions meaning I needed to start again. From this I have learnt that I need to read my notes very carfully several times and understand what I am doing before I proceed with my work.

Today I remade my waistband and made my basque as well as starting on the knickers.

From the tutorial today I found out what I will be doing in this project. I will have the chance to make a classical tutu for clients at Arts Ed. The tutu will be a reconstuction of one of their old costumes but their will be a few changes made to the costume, such as the colour of the decorative bits which will be a pastel colour (this will have to be dyed). I have to go up to London with another member of the group to source some samples of gold broacde for the bodice. From the tutorial it became clearer to me what I need to achieve for this project in order to successfully fulfill the brief. For example, apart from making the costume I will need to do some research into the history of ballet and its costumes and even into some of the dance techniques. I will back up my research with images of ballet costume from books and the internet. The research will help me to gain a better understaing of ballet and help with the construction. From this tutorial I will begin my research before next session where I will start pattern cutting for the costume.

For my Self Directed Project I am going to be doing the Dance-wear workshop. I have decided this because I wanted an area of costume that would challenge me and would be completely new to me. I feel I will be able to gain and broaden my knowledge in a costume construction, building on the skills I already have and expanding upon them with this chosen area. To have the knowledge of dancewear construction is something I feel could be highly useful and benifcial to me in the future. In this project I hope to learn how a classical tutu is cut and constructed and about the history of ballet which will help me to gain a better understading of the art itself.