I Made a Tutu! (And so can YOU)

About a year ago, someone on a professional Facebook group of which I am a member posted this article. It is about a shortage of tutu makers in the UK and how the Royal Ballet wishes to fill the void.

This set off a deluge of responses that, in fact, there are many people who know how to make tutus; this article was simply an advertisement for the Royal Ballet's internship program where they will harvest their labor for cheep. Ah, yes, the ugly reality is not that there is a lack of tutu makers, but that no one wants to pay for the skilled artisans to do the work. 

I was a trained dancer, so my costuming work began with dance costumes. However, because I work mostly with modern dance and musical theater I have never made a tutu myself! But I also know that with my skill level in costume construction all I needed was someone to show me how to do it and then I too would have those skills!

That someone came in the form of Travis Halsey. A link to his workshops was posted on the same Facebook group.  It was as if angels descended to Earth, bearing tidings of tutu glory. What's more, the workshops are in Chicago, so I could mix in a visit to my parents and get a free place to stay. Score!
Little known fact: the proper way to test your tutu before a fitting is to put it on your head.

Mr. Halsey has a lovely costume shop on the far north side of Chicago. He is quite busy, having contracts with several major ballet companies both in Chicago and around the country. He has a vast knowledge of tutu making and shares it openly and with joy. I was joined by two ladies who are dance mothers that have been making costumes for their daughters' dance schools. He treated them with equal respect as me and the three of us had so much fun over our three days.

The cost of the workshop is $600; considering his knowledge and all he willingly gave us it was a tremendous deal. We were supplied all materials needed, plus templates for creating scalloped edges on the netting and a file full of digital patterns!
Bonus prize!
My assumption was correct; all I needed was someone to show me how to make a tutu! What's more, I left with a dozen other hits on how to do various things, like how make a bodice without ugly drag lines (and it goes against everything I know about flatlining!) and how to sew on hooks and bars using a machine!
These hooks and bars were sewn by machine; my life is forever changed.
In three days, anyone with solid sewing knowledge can learn to make a tutu. There is, of course, artistry that goes beyond pure knowledge which is the difference between a good tutu and a beautiful one. Mr. Halsey showed us many of the tutus he has made which display this rare beauty. 

This is my tutu! A little ragged from the journey (and getting lost by the airline!) but pretty darn good for a first tutu!
If you want to know how to make a tutu, sign up for this workshop and then submit your resume to the Royal Ballet.

Coming soon! I'm going to make 3 bodices using the different techniques I've learned over the years to compare strengths and weaknesses. Well, maybe not so soon. But it's on my list of fun things to experiment with!


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