Tulle Time: How to Create a Tutu

by on February 4, 2015

Photo Credit: Maurice Seymour

  The makings of a ballet tutu are akin to that of a croissant: luscious layers, painstaking attention to detail, and lots and lots of time. The end result, however, is one of beauty and an indulgence for the senses. There is such an extensive history behind the ornate garments, and watching the process as the performance costumes take shape can be mesmerizing.

Alicia Markova, a remarkable prima ballerina of the early 1900’s, can be credited with contributing the modern day breathable, flexible stitching of tutus. The days of yore saw a great deal of heavy wool and constricting silk bodices.

For modern tutus, seamstresses utilize well over 60 feet of tulle and gossamer to create the dozen or so layers comprising the skirt. These materials can easily hop into the thousand-dollar range. However, the person behind the sewing machine can marvel at the effort put into these beautiful pieces moving with the body of the dancer.

And for those who must wear these costumes, donning a weighty suit of gems, fabric, and bows—corseted in to a heady level of discomfort— and balancing on a toe, the response is unanimous: out with the wool, in with the tulle. For anyone who has ever declared ballet to be easy, try being the costume designer.