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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books on costumes and tutus?

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I am planning on going to tutuschool this summer to learn how to make tutus.

I was searching online for the following and coming up short.


Books on the art of the tutu and ballet costumes. History of the tutu with lots of pictures. I don't think this exists currently but I would imagine not only would costumers love this but so would dancers.


Books on ballet costume making. Claudia Folts has a book. They are the ones hosting the school but that seems to be the only one that is accessible.


Any leads or ideas?




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There is a book on ballet costuming which was written in the 1970s - 'How to dress dancers' by Mary Kent Harrison. It has good aspects, but is quite dated. For example, instructions for making leotards are done using woven fabrics, as this book predates Lycra/spandex.

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TutusThatDance.com also has beautiful patterns, instructions, and hosts seminar workshops.

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Also looking for picture books for inspiration. I would love to see a book filled with beautiful tutus and the ballets they are for.

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For lovely pictures of tutus, pinterest is pretty good! The downside is that you can't always find the information about where the photo is from.

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Costumes by Karinska by Toni Bentley is a good one for looking at Costumes. For use of colors Fairie ality by Ellwant. It is not a costume book but has lovely color combinations in it's photos and it's a fun book to develop color schemes from. Definitely start a Pinterest board. Tons and tons of photos that others have saved and are passing along are up.

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This is so interesting - I've been looking into Tutuschool as well. I live near Charlotte, so it would be very convenient. I'll definitely be looking into some of these books!


Do you mind my asking you which classes you are planning to take at Tutuschool? Do you know anyone who has attended in the past?


I'm a little on the fence about the classes, as I don't know anyone who has been to them, and they are a good bit of money - though totally worth it if they are a good quality and a good fit. I'm wondering how advanced of a sewer one needs to be to do this. I would say I am probably at the intermediate level. I've been a sewer since I was a very small girl, but off and on, over the years. I've always especially enjoyed handwork and embroidery. I usually pick things up pretty quickly. I would say I have done more sewing for crafts than clothes as an adult. (Things like Waldorf dolls, eco-friendly "paper" towels, etc. - as well as some clothes.) I taught my daughters to sew, and we designed pointe shoe bags made of satin and lace. They've sold more than 50 of these on Etsy in the past year, and we would like to expand our offerings. Maybe not straight to classical tutus! But I'd like to be able to sew some skirts and leotards, and maybe work my way up. I'm assuming that it would take a good while to master tutus, but you have to start the learning process sometime.


I'm not sure if I am up for the expense of it this particular summer, though. My girls have a Very Expensive Summer planned, and because housing isn't available with the programs they are doing, I will be traveling with them. We will be home exactly two weeks. But those two weeks exactly coincide with the Tutuschool dates, so it is very tempting! :) I've also considered getting one of their kits and just messing around with it on my own this summer, thinking that I could then get more out of the classes next summer if I had a chance to a) save up money and B) familiarize myself with the process so that I'm not a total newbie. Decisions, decisions! :sweating:

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Hi Dancerdancer

I did call them regarding sewing expertise. They have classes for beginners to more advanced. I'm taking beginner friendly ones.

I'm planning to take
Costuming fundamentals
Classical tutu
Bodice 1
Finishing touches

That should mean I complete a full costume when I'm done, I think. The cost of the classes includes materials.

I'm a home sewer. I became interested in learning to sew tutus after working with a tutu maker on a piece for my daughter. I enjoyed collaborating with the tutu maker to honor historical design but for a younger, smaller dancer. I also altered the same tutu recently as my daughter grew 4 inches. It was fun to see how it was constructed.

I also made 2 georgette dance dresses for cupid and a contemporary piece. I enjoy making pieces and being able to design just what I am looking for as the ready made market isn't what I am looking for and custom can be expensive.

I wish I could take more classes like the Spanish skirt and leotard classes but maybe next year.


Still love to hear other recommendations for books on tutus especially with pictures. I have been on pinterest but usually its hard to see detail.

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Thanks for the additional info on the more beginner friendly classes, Meilingsmama. I hope we also hear of other book recommendations!


I also just looked at the TutusThatDance.com workshops that Dancemaven mentioned, and wouldn't you know - they are holding a San Francisco series that starts on the exact same day that my daughters' intensive at San Francisco Ballet begins. What are the odds that both options would coordinate exactly with where I will be this summer? Even more decisions... :rolleyes:

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That's great! I say go where is convenient. I can drive to Charlotte which is important because you have to bring a sewing machine and serger and tons of equipment!

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