Tutu On Dress-form At The Costume Creations.UK Studio
Using Dress-forms In Costume Design
There are many different types of gadgets and accessories that assist a clothing designer with garment creation. One of these is the dressmaker’s dummy or dress-form. We sometimes take for granted the sewing tools that are available to us and spend little time wondering about the history of these items. I was curious enough about the history of dress-forms to do a little investigating about the origins of the dress-form.
Who Invented The Dress-form?
Nobody knows the exact date of the very first dress-form invention. The oldest known example of a dress-form is a wooden torso-shaped form that was found in King Tut’s tomb in Egypt in 1922. This wooden torso was found near King Tut’s clothing chest. We are talking ancient Egypt circa 1350 B.C. That is quite a long time ago.
Why Were Dress-forms Created?
The most likely reason that dress-forms were created was to allow a dressmaker to create a garment without “bothering” the King and his Royal family. Only the very wealthy and elite were able to hire a personal dressmaker. The dressmaker only had to “disturb” the client once by taking his or her measurements then transfer the measurements to a dress-form. From there, the dressmaker could fit the garment without the presence of the client.
The Benefits Of Using A Dress-form For Professional Results
The benefits of using a dress-form have always been important in haute couture design. The haute couture fashion houses of old-world France demanded the use of the dress-form for dressmaker’s making custom clothing for the rich and Royal of the French aristocracy. There are a few more benefits to using a dress-form:
- Prevents crushing. Classical tutus are beautiful, but also easily crushed out of shape. Imagine a ballet costume designer stuffing your tutu into her closet and handing you a wrinkled costume when you come to pick it up. That wouldn’t do. The dress-form gives the tutu skirt “breathing” room and space.
- Shaping. Allowing the garment to rest undisturbed on the dress-form lets the garment keep it’s shape. Especially the bodice. This is much better than trying to hang it from a hanger or a hook where the straps may stretch out.
- Sewing Guide. This is the basic function of the dress-form. It becomes a fitting guide, a base for draping fabric, measuring length, and all of the other fine-tuning that goes along with tutu couture.
The most important benefit of using a dress-form? A dress-form won’t mind being poked by a pin or two unlike a human client. No screams of “ouch!” make the design studio a happier place.
Classical tutu skirts are traditionally made using layers of stiff netting called tulle. There are some tutu skirts that are left plain after the construction process is over and the designer has chosen to leave off any additional embellishments. More often than not, tutu skirts are given an extra dose of beauty by the carefully chosen placement of embellishments.
Looking at this completed ballet costume, I find myself wondering about the application process and what the steps would be to add embellishments correctly to a classical tutu like this one.
If you notice in the photo, the tutu skirt is pleated all the way around. The embellishments were sewn on over those pleats without crushing or flattening the pleats of the skirt. I searched around on the internet for any good tips to use if I were to try to sew embellishments over the top of a pre-pleated tutu skirt. I could not find any information about the proper sewing technique for embellishing a tutu skirt.
I have experience with clothing construction (basic) and have made a pleated skirt or two in the past. The pleats were super-wide, I admit, and none of them were ever embellished with trim over the pleats. Sewing a regular street skirt can be done in just hours. It certainly doesn’t compare to the time-consuming process of applying the tiny decorative details found in a classical ballet costume.
It takes a very careful eye and delicate touch to attach decorative trims to a tutu skirt. The proper thread has to be used. The applique trim needs to be positioned evenly all around the skirt. Applying the trim itself is the most delicate part of the construction process.
The embellishment has to be sewn on firmly enough to stay put during a performance, but not so tightly that the tulle on the tutu skirt puckers up around the stitches. I would like to take a guess and say that sewing an embellishment onto the top of the tutu skirt is done using the first layer of tulle only.
Thread color choice might be a strong, transparent thread, or one to blend in with the costume color scheme. There are no shortcuts around the hand-sewing requirements of a professional grade ballet costume.
It is this time-intensive hand labor that makes each custom-made ballet costume so incredibly special…
Classical Ballet Tutu’s And The Magic Of Airbrush Design
When this gorgeous classical ballet tutu was completed by Costume Creations, I was only one of many people waiting to see a photo of the finished costume. We were anticipating this design with impatience because the tutu skirt was going to be airbrushed.
When this ballet costume was finally ready for viewing, everyone who saw the photo was in awe of the beauty of this costume. The airbrushing effect on the tutu skirt was simply stunning.
Airbrushing is a painting technique that uses a specially designed sprayer or “gun” to apply color on a surface to achieve a certain effect. Airbrush painting technique is not something that someone can learn overnight. It takes skill to know how to properly use an airbrush gun, mix the right consistency of the paint, and to apply the color in even layers.
This ballet tutu resembles a beautiful hand-dipped purple rose or a flower petal from the lavender fields of France. The airbrush design on this gorgeous tutu gives it such a three-dimensional look, that I can almost smell the scent of lilacs just by looking at the photo…..
White Classical Tutu Designed By Costume Creations.UK
What Ballets Typically Require White Classical Tutus?
Because ballet tells a story with movement and not with words, every single aspect of non-verbal communication must be maximized .
Stage hands will adjust lighting to set moods and create a certain ambiance in the theater atmosphere. Backdrop designers will set the scene for the ballet depending upon the story.
Costumes will be chosen that fit in with the story line of the ballet. If a ballet has a fiery, Spanish theme, the chances are good that the tutu chosen for that scene will also be a fiery color, like deep red.
Think of the Firebird ballet. It just wouldn’t be the same if the ballerina wore a white tutu to represent a Firebird. Color speaks to our emotions and that is why ballet costume color choice is such an important part of the performance itself.
White classical tutus can be chosen for a performance for several reasons. Ballet performances that use a very darkened theater and want to create a dramatic effect will dress the dancers in very white costumes for contrast. The other reason may be to portray purity or to mimic the true color of an animal, such as a swan.
Agnes Letestu Creates A Dramatic Effect Wearing A White Classical Tutu In A Darkened Theater
As you watch this stunning performance, you should ask yourself if the performance would be as dramatic if Agnes Letestu was wearing a darker ballet costume. It is the white color of her costume that makes this ballet so magical, not to mention her awesome technique! Other ballets that typically choose white costumes for the ballerina are:
- SWAN LAKE: The part of the white swans must, of course, have white classical tutus
- SHADES VARIATION
- LA BAYADERE
- DIAMONDS in the Balanchine Ballet Jewels
- THE DYING SWAN SOLO
- ETUDES: A ballet by Danish Choreographer Harold Lander
- LE GRANDE PAS CLASSIQUE: Russian pas de deux
- NUTCRACKER: Snowflakes
- THE PHAROAHS DAUGHTER
- AURORA: Wedding scene
- RAYMONDA Act 3
- LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE: The Tsar Maiden
This list of ballets didn’t take much researching. I simply asked Monica of Costume Creations. Not only does she make performance ready costumes; she knows what performances the costumes are ready for. Amazing!
This pink classical tutu is really fit for a princess. The color is so soft and soothing and yet regal at the same time.
To me, this tutu says Ballerina with a capital B. If the dancer who wears this finds perfectly matching tights and pointe shoes, she will most certainly be the epitome of beauty during her performance.
Costumes on dress forms always speak to me and this one is saying:
Take me to the Paris Opera Ballet Theater where I can spin and leap and show myself off….let me dance with Emma and Marie on the grand old stage and show reverence to all who have come before me……..
This lovely white classical tutu is now finished and waiting patiently for the dancer to bring to it to life. To me, there is something magical about a classical ballet tutu on a dressform. It is almost as if the dressform were preparing for a performance and only needs the slightest bit of wind to start doing pirouettes across the room.
White classical tutus have always been favorites of mine. Watching a large corps of ballerinas performing in all white is breathtaking! I don’t know exactly which performance this particular tutu ended up in, but I am certain that it was a lovely performance.