Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tutu for Miss N


Grab a cuppa . . . or maybe a wine . . . cos this is a long post  :P

Last year I was asked to make a tutu for competitions. I was recommended to the client by an amazing lady, Anne de Geus, who I have been tutored by on and off over the last few years.

I have made a few tutus, usually with a degree of stretch to them. I've made many small lycra ones with 3-5 layers of tulle for little girls in concerts. I've made a stretch velvet one for Locket, and a romantic style one for Miss S, out of a stretch velveteen and lined with stretch drill. It was quite big on her as her Mum wanted it to last a while  :)

This tutu was to be a little more of a challenge as it was of a woven satin, with a lace overlay. I've certainly learned a lot since my first tutu, however I still have a lot to learn.

The pattern I used was by Suzanne Dieckmann of Tutus That Dance. This is the pattern I used. Suzanne was wonderfully helpful, answered any questions I had very quickly and helped me work out some kinks with fitting I was having. Thanks so much, Suzanne, for all your help  =D>

I also want to say a big thanks to Margaret Shore of Margaret Shore Ballet Costumes for the one-on-one mini-workshop we had. Margaret and I spent a day together in January 2012 talking tutus, with me asking endless questions! As I knew we only had the one day I wrote out a list of things I wanted to know about beforehand. We went through them all and I took a lot of notes. I came away with a lot of new knowledge. Even though it was a long time until I got to make another tutu I was able to utilise that knowledge.  :)

There is a saying on The Sewing Forum (TSF) I am a member of regarding ways of making a tutu - "It depends!" In other words there is no one right way to make a tutu, or do some of the construction methods. So what I describe here is what I did . . . however others may do things quite differently. I may do things differently another time! 

 
These are the bodice pieces cut out. The calico underlining is on the left and the satin on the right. The satin has the "wrong side" facing out in this photo. If there had been no lace overlay this is the side I would have used as the "right side" or outside of the bodice.

The bodice underlining, or interlining, and the bodice fabric are overlocked together on the seam edges, but not at the top or bottom edges. Then they are treated as one piece and the seams stitched together. This is the wrong side soon after I've stitched the seams, but not pressed them yet.

This shows the bodice from the right side and you can see how shiny the satin is. It tends to show every movement and crease which is why many tutu makers use the matte side facing out. The lace overlay would tone down the sheen which is why I left it facing out.

 Here is the pantie pattern I draughted for Miss N. The pantie is made out of lycra that matches the lowest levels of tulle as closely as possible. It is also lined in a skintone lining. The two layers of lycra give a firmer pantie, and if a light coloured or white pantie would ensure it wasn't see through :">

 Here is the pantie "mock-up" or toile made up. I wanted to be sure it would fit Miss N correctly.

 
Here is the basque I came up with. Lots of measuring, making a pattern . . . and it's a bit too deep! More on the basque later.

 
Miss N very kindly allowed me to take a few photos while we were fitting the bodice. The easiest way to do this is to pin the bodice on inside out. Looks strange but it works. Here you can see where I've placed pins to take in the excess fabric. This was one of the ideas Margaret showed me, to use safety pins - much safer than the usual sewing pins.

 
There was quite a bit of excess in the underarm area that needed to be sorted out. 

 Now that it's pinned it's taken off so that I can mark where the seam lines need changing.

The front view. Looking closely you can see where the pins are holding the bodice together.

 
Here are the lining pieces cut out. Generally a tutu bodice is unlined however while talking with Miss N she said that, yes, she would like a lining when I said it was an option. Not only was this my first non-stretch tutu bodice it was Miss N's very first made-to-measure tutu. Something very special for any girl  :)  So we chose a beige lining as none was available in a colour matching the satin at that time.

Here is the inside of the bodice with the lace overlay. I had great fun doing this. I had hand-basted the side seams of the bodice together because the lace had a very slight stretch to it. As the flowers were quite large I wanted to be able to have the front piece all one if I could. I also needed to shape or mould the lace to the bodice. To do this I got a piece of polystyrene (styrofoam) that was lying around, pinned the bodice to it, right side facing me, and stuffed the bust area firmly! Then I was able to tack the lace to the bodice front.

And with the lining down. I later tacked it to the seams at the bottom edge. At the back of the photo you can see the two colours of tulle I used. I've learned from other tutu makers that two colours can give a better depth of colour than one single colour

The front . . .

. . . and the back.

Once the bodice was all done it was on to the pantie and layers of tulle. The panite is all stitched and the elastic applied to the leg edges - before the tulle is attached. This shot shows nearly all the layers of tulle attached to the pantie. Pinned up out of the way to stop them flopping forward as I sew the next layer. First the net has to be gathered. See the brown circle at the far right of the photo?

It's a button, and through the eyes of the button and tied at the back is nylon fishing line! A very neat trick I learned on TSF. To gather the net you place it under the foot of the machine with the fishing line on top. You set your machine to zig zag and then stitch away. Voila! Like magic the tulle gathers on the line and does a fair bit of the work for you. The button and nylon are pulled out when all the layers are stitched on to the pantie.

I also remove all the little pieces of masking tape I use to label the layers when I cut them. When cutting the tulle I use a rotary cutting ruler like this. It gives beautifully straight edges, is easy on the hands and takes a lot less time than cutting with scissors!

As I mentioned I had some issues with the basque, so in the end I used a self-basque or "granny pantie" I.e. the pantie continued up to the waist under the bodice, which finished at the high hip line.

I also had a few issues with the back of the skirt where all the tulle met. The lovely ladies on TSF were able to give me advice and all the issues were sorted out. So a big thanks to you ladies too  :)

It did mean I had to take all the net off and re-attach it. Which in the end was a good thing! I had wanted to try double pleating the top layer but wasn't too sure about it. So now I took the plunge and went ahead.

Here is the top layer all double pleated and pinned. It took me a while but gave a much nicer finish to the top layer I thought. Here I'm stitching the pleats down so they will stay in place while I attach them to the pantie.

Miss N had an image in her head of the style of plate she wanted on the tutu. I had a set of plate patterns from Tutu Com but they were all different than what was needed. So I draughted one. Which took some searching on google for the formula to work out the math required to get the number of picot like edges on the circle! I love the challenge of figuring out new things like this. This is the piece that I cut out of the high hip area. I made the pattern piece as a quarter circle.

Here is the pattern I came up with. I was very pleased when it worked as well as it did  :)  At the top of the photo you can see the piece from the photo above before I cut it off the main pattern piece.

Here I'm stitching the plate to the bodice just at the join of where the bodice meets the net. I found it easiest to use a curved needle for this as I could take smaller "bites" of the fabric than with a regular needle. This was done after I'd shanked the layers of tulle.

A closer view. I was pretty pleased with my first attempt at the pleats. I overlocked the edges of the lace and satin together so that they wouldn't fray.

So there you have it. My first woven tutu. I was very pleased with the final result, but more importantly Miss N was really happy with it. It looked as she had imagined it would  :)

The finished tutu from the front.

And from the back. Stuffed with a cushion and T-shirt to fill in the bust  :D

I edited the view from the front the other day. I'm not sure whether it's better or not. Still trying to decide! Lesson learnt: Think about the background when you take the photo! When I took the photo I had no thoughts of a blog at all. Hence the "renovation look".


If you've hung in through all that, well done! Thank you for visiting  :)

Updated 21/11/2014

I got sent some pics of Miss N in her tutu. So, of course, I have to share one here! I think you look gorgeous Miss N  :)


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Meeting new people

The other day I was reading a blog called Lilacs & Lace that I came across a few weeks ago. I've really been enjoying reading old posts and gaining a lot of knowledge. As I was scrolling down past the comments I saw one by someone called the curious kiwi. Well, I must admit I was intrigued! A kiwi in this sense usually refers to a New Zealander. Not the bird or the fruit. So since I am born and bred here in NZ I wondered if she/he lived in NZ or was an ex-pat kiwi living elsewhere in the world. So I clicked on the name and found The Curious Kiwi.
I read the post and wondered what WSBN was. Looking around the blog I discovered the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network WSBN It sounded as though it would be a lot of fun to join!  :D  I do know a few people who sew and I'm a member of The Sewing Forum which I really enjoy as well. But to be a part of a community here in my own city would be fantastic! So I sent a message off and made contact.

I received a reply the same day, really quickly, and tonight I was put in contact with others in the group. I'm really looking forward to meeting up with some of the members who all sound lovely. I tend to get very enthusiastic when I talk about sewing, fabrics, notions etc. If the person I'm talking to doesn't sew they listen politely . . . however as hard as they try "the glazed look" can appear and they get bored  :-<

I don't blame them as there are quite a few subjects that bore me as well!

The other thing I managed to do today was to add some HTML so I can use emoticons. I found this blog that gave a very simple explanation that not-very-techie me could follow. It worked so a big  =D>  to SnowCone!

Oh! And, yes, I did do some sewing. I'm in the process of making up 33 pairs of dungarees for a dance concert. I will blog about it, but it will have to wait until the concert has been.

So it's . . . Good morning! from me. It's really good night as I'm about to get some sleep  :-h

I promise not to use the emoticons all the time but today I can't resist. Thanks for visiting  :)