katherine summer * couturière

Fine Dressmaking in the San Francisco Bay Area

11 December 2010

Black Swan Tutu part 1

Black Swan Tutu



One of the perks to being an instructor at Academy of Art University is that I get to take a free class every semester.  So far I've taken knitwear 1 in which I learned basics knitting machine techniques, and at present I'm taking Intro to Apparel Manufacturing online.  I am dying to take the entire series of knitwear courses but haven't yet been able to take level 2 because it has conflicted with my teaching schedule.

A new course was offered in Spring 2010--The Classical Tutu.  This may have been one of the most rewarding classes I have ever taken in my my entire life.  Jean Lamprell teaches it, and I have to say, it is a gift to the world that she does this.  There are very few people in the world who know how to do it and do it well, and there are fewer as time marches on.

The bodice is a base layer of cotton coutil covered in polyester satin.  The tutu itself is made from 10 layers of special tutu netting which is hand pleated, not gathered, to knickers made from cotton bobbin net.  It took the whole semester to build the tutu, and even then I wasn't finished.  I still had to decorate it.

sewing classical tutu


I used a black chantilly for the edging, sequin trim to outline the the swan's bill, and the black dot and black sequin stripe is just cheap stuff from the local fabric store.  Here's the bodice before I decided how to orient the lace--these were my two choices.  I ended up going with the first:

classical tutu bodice



The buttons are vintage glass, and they have a smooth center that is surrounded by tiny little divits.   At the suggestion of Miss Rhinestone Queen herself, I found point-back rhinestones that fit into the hollows perfectly, which is how I made the eyes and the little button bridge across the top of the bill.

tutu decoration


Sandi also helped me decide what color rhinestone to use on the costume.  I had originally though I was going to use jet black rhinestones, but when I bought a package and laid them out on the tutu, there just wasn't enough sparkle.  They just kind of blended in and didn't differentiate enough from the black shine of the sequin trim or sequin fabric.  But the clear crystal rhinestones were too contrasty.  She suggested the black diamond color, which are a smoky grey.

I'm telling you, it was like sparkle magic.  They were the perfect blend of subtle and POP!!!  From some angles, you can't even tell that they're there, and then the light hits them from another angle, and it is like tiny water droplets on a swan's feathers.  At least, that's what I think :)

Black Lotus Christina, who is also part of Salome's Suitcase  had the smarts to create a little photo setup backstage at Shadowdance, and she took this picture as well as the one at the top:
Black Swan Costume



As soon as we get the other photos and video from the fashion show, I'll post the second part of this.  And I can't wait to see Black Swan :)