This post is the design process I used to make the Black Swan tutu. There will be another post on making the Black Swan Bodice.
I decided to go extra professional and get a tutu.com black rehearsal tutu. Unfortunately, my tutu is too big. However, it wasn’t big enough for me to send back. Nor did I have time to send it back. I suppose the benefit is, is I gain weight, I can still wear my tutu.
The Tutu Base
The tutu.com rehearsal tutu I purchased with the extras of hooped and double hand-pleated. These two options are not necessary. If I were to make a recommendation, you can go without getting the hoop but I really like the double hand-pleating on the top layer (third image). Plus, its only a $25.00 addition. The first picture also shows another extra I bought, a $5.00 net plate meant for embellishing your tutu (first image pinned to the top). These plates, once embellished, can be removed from your tutu and another plate sewn on it. This is far more economical than buying a brand new tutu every time you needed a new black tutu design. For the Black Swan costume, getting the net plate will make it easier for you to build your costume without having to worry about messing up your expensive purchase. I highly recommend this addition. You can also make your own too, but is so easy just to add this to your purchase. The second image shows you gun tacking. This comes standard with the rehearsal tutu. Gun-tacking makes your tutu flat like a pancake. Also, if you have the time and skills, you can always make your own tutu. If you need a pattern, tutu.com has them for you!
Step 1: Black Organza Fabric Overlay
I picked this fabric because it was semi-opaque and didn’t have the heavy look of black satin and it wasn’t expensive like silk. You can see your tutu through the fabric, but it is not super sheer. Since I am pretty new to the sewing machine, it also has the added benefit of not needing to be hemmed once I cut the fabric. One can simple seal the ends by burning the edges.
First you take about a yard and a half of your fabric and lay it over the top of your tutu, which should have the tutu plate pinned to it. I took small dress pins and then pinned along the inside of the tutu to the net overlay only. I cut an x in the middle space where the waist part is and then trimmed away the excess. Around the outside of the the circle, I trimmed away the excess leaving a slight bit over the edge. Then I burnt the edges of both the inside circle (waist band area) and outside circle (outer edge) of the fabric to seal in order to prevent fraying.
Step 2: Making Your Feathers
I do the next step instead of adding the netting (or birdcage fabric) to the tutu because it is easier and safer to do this part first without the delicate net fabric already being attached to your overlay.
I got two types of feathers to use on my tutu: black strung hackle and black hackle pads. To make this process a bit easier, I used a net fabric and hot glued the feathers to the net fabric. Afterwards, I decided I wanted a little bit more support for the feathers, so I then hot glued the feathers to black felt. This made it much easier to sew the feather trim to the organza and bird cage veiling later. You could probably forgo the netting and go straight to the black felt, but you will need the netting to attach the rhinestones.
The photographs below are taken with my leotard and tutu on a duct tape body form I made out of myself. Having the duct tape body form really help in the design and construction process. It allows you to place your trim on the tutu and know exactly what it is going to look like. The first step is to decide how much of the netting material you are going to use and how far down you want the feathers to be on your tutu. I took my 2 yards strung feather hackle and cut into several larger strips. I would say about four inches in length. I used about four hackle pads to cover the satin strips of the strung hackle pads. After I had all my feather pieces, I covered my tutu with some white gossmer fabric and a layer of wax paper to protect the organza overlay. At this point in time, the net and organza overlay are pinned to the tutu. Once my tutu was protected, I began gluing down the strung hackle pads. I did two rows of strung hackle, which you can see in the images below. The I covered up the satin with the black hackle pads. Hot glue isn’t the most elegant thing to use, but it sure did save me a lot of time.
Black Swan Tutu Feathers Preparation
Black Swan Strung Hackle Feathers Left Side
Black Swan Hackle Pads Left Side
Below you will see I didn’t like the gap in the hackle pad and strung hackle. So I snipped off a small piece of the strung hackle and glued it to the black hackle pad before adding it to the tutu.
Black Swan Tutu Feathers Right, Bridcage veiling, and rhinestones coming next weekend…..Comment made on Sept 18th — Sorry I wasnt able to update this past weekend…will try again this weekend.
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