Tutu Making Essentials For Professional Costume Design

Have you ever wondered what kind of supplies, machinery and notions a professional tutu maker must have on hand to be successful at their craft? If you were going to set up an imaginary design studio, there could literally be hundreds of items that a tutu maker works with.  Some are gathered over the course of a designer’s work career. Other items are considered the basic essentials that form the backbone of all professional couture work.

Physical Space-A Well Organised And Functional Sewing Area

sewing nook

There has to be enough room for storing, constructing and protecting costumes under design. Normal sewing projects for the average person typically don’t need a special area because the projects are few and far between.  Most of the people I know that can mend things by hand or use their machine can keep all their supplies in a tiny basket because they only do sewing as needed.

Once you begin to create projects of real substance on a regular basis for clients, your piles of fabrics, patterns, notions and reference books will grow and grow and the need for organisation becomes very important.  Image Credit: Flickr.com, Sewing Nook by mpfox223,(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A Top Quality Sewing Machine

Brother sewing machine

Obviously, one of the most important investments for any type of professional garment making is a top-quality sewing machine. Even though couture tutu construction means a great deal of hand sewing and hand pleating, a machine is still used for certain stitching requirements on different costume styles.

If you are here reading this post because you love to sew, you probably love your machine as much as I do mine. Although I love the model I own, nowhere does it get the serious use that one housed in the studio of a professional theatrical garment maker would. Don’t you ever wonder how time-consuming the process is to make tutus by hand for many clients day after day? That is another trait that hand-worked garments require; tenacity and dedication.  Image Credit: Flickr.com, My Brother Sewing Machine LX-2500 by Andie 712b, (CC BY 2.0)

A Dress Form Is A Must For Top-Quality Couture Work

Jade-Gold Airbrushed Tutu made by Costume Creations UK. © Image copyright Monica Newell-all rights reserved.
Jade-Gold Airbrushed Tutu made by Costume Creations UK. © Image copyright Monica Newell.

The dress form, or dressmaker’s dummy is an essential item for anyone who aspires to make professional looking garments.

Every time I see one of the finished tutus by Costume Creations resting on its dress form, I think how perfectly they were made for each other.

A dress form can provide three important functions for costume making:

* A Measurement Guide– Once the dress form has been adjusted to mimic the measurements of the client, garments can be fitted appropriately as needed without the client having to be there all the time.

* A Professional Display- Nothing looks as enchanting as a beautiful classical tutu displayed professionally on a dress form. It just wouldn’t look as regal and special hanging from a generic coat hanger, would it?

* A Protective Device– Having an expensive couture design ( that is what they are) in a place that could mar the fabric or crinkle the netting is a big no-no. Designers work hard at protecting the fruits of their labor so clients can be assured of an impeccable garment upon delivery. Sloppiness or carelessness doesn’t mix with tutu making.

The Right Notions

When it comes to sewing, notions are like the little bricks and nails that you use to build your house. Here are some typical tutu-making notions:

  • Hooks and eyes
  • Bodice lining fabrics
  • Laces and crystals
  • Elastics
  • Net fabrics

Tools Of The Trade

All sewers need the right tools of the trade. For costume designing, that is no different. Tools may include:

  • Good quality scissors
  • Tape measures
  • Large quantities of pins
  • Lots of thread spools
  • Hand-sewing needles

Image Credit: Strawberry Pincushion, By Dvortygirl (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Owning all of the above tools, equipment and notions does not a tutu designer make. There is one essential item required to become a master in this trade that cannot be purchased at the store; inborn artistic talent.  All of the tutus featured on this site are functional works of art made not of canvas and paint, but of netting, embellishments and strategic hand-placed manipulation of fabric by one born with this rare talent; Monica Newell of Costume Creations U.K.. She is an artistic genius whose canvas just happens to be the dancer’s form. 

© 2013 by Tutu-Love.
All rights reserved. No part of this article’s content or images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Monica Newell and /or L.Perry.




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