A Swan Lake Tutu on a budget. 


A super quick sketch, outlining my ideas. Because of the tiny budget I had to drop the Tutu decoration. 

A super quick sketch, outlining my ideas. Because of the tiny budget I had to drop the Tutu decoration. 

Swan Lake has always held a special place in my heart, I have seen it performed countless times- the best? At The Royal Albert Hall with 60 Swans!!- and every time I fall in love all over again with the music, performance and costumes.

I had a small budget to create this Costume, which was part of a production run of Costumes for a Holiday Park a couple years ago. Even though there was just Odette to be created, and even though I had to restrain myself ; I knew I simply had to have a traditional Tutu with some feather detailing and the above illustration was my starting point.

I decided to work the budget to my advantage by making a simple 12 layer Classic Tutu, but not decorate it, then create a simple Classic Tutu Bodice with a suggestion of the decoration one would normally see in a production of Swan Lake. I had some feathers, calico backing and sparkle mesh left over from another project- which saved me a few more pennies- and I decorated a simple tiara from Primark with a couple feathers to complete the look. 


There are normally 14 layers in a Traditional Tutu, ranging from 3cm to 32cm. I had saved myself a little money by nix-ing two layers which would save time and fabric… over all I used over 20m of Net and all layers- once cut and pieced- needed to be snipped and cut to create the classic Swan Lake zig-zag edging.

As I cut the layers I made sure to pin very closely so there was no movement. I then pinned a template on top of each layer with another set of pins and cut the zig-zags. It's a little more time consuming to do it in this way but if the net moves at all the zig zags fall out of line and become messy (believe me, I only know this stuff because I have done it the wrong/fast way first!!) which is a true shame. When making something with such a simple effect it is important each element is perfect. 

Once snipped, each layer is gathered and sewn on to the Basque. This process takes one worker over 10 hour to accomplish and can get fairly intense!! The Basque can start to curl about half way through and it is about at this point that you think you wont win, but win you do and a few hours later you have the most wonderful sight… a fluffy, untamed Tutu!


Glorious, isn’t she?

Tacking stitches are inserted in a very specific order- a large zig zag- to tame the beast, the Bodice is made up and decorated and all of a sudden, a weeks worth of work looks so beautiful you can almost… almost… forget the pain of all that gathering!


And finally, a shot of the inside, because sometimes they're just as wondrous as the outside!


Voila! There you have it. I made this Tutu and Bodice in 4 days- mainly because of budget constraints I had no more time to give to it- and was pretty happy with the result. I seem to recall the fabrics cost approx. £42. 

x Laura x