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.


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