Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon
Fancy Fabrics Challenge 2014

Classical Ballet Tutu – Sugar Plum Fairy – Nutcracker Ballet

Front view of entire costume

My passion is constructing Professional Classical Ballet tutus.This was custom made for a special dancer, for her principal role as the Sugar Plum Fairy, in the Nutcracker Ballet.

The 14 piece bodice is made with Ivory Shantung fabric, mixed with an embossed gold satin, and a few of the pieces have an overlay of ivory organza. It is piped with the matching gold and shantung fabrics.It is fully lined with coutil cotton and is supported with spiral steel boning.It is embellished with a gold metallic venise applique and I’ve added layers of embroidered appliques. These items are all hand sewn on after the bodice is completed. I also attached swarovski crystals to the embellishments.

The tutu (skirt) is constructed of 12 layers of Diamond hole netting and nylon tulle (ivory and gold).It has a steel hoop enclosed.The layers are hand quilted together to give it the shape.The netting is attached to a gold satin basque and powernet panty.I embellished it with a ‘plate’.I made a flower like shape out of the gold satin, added lace.I then attached an ivory/gold lace, sequined fabric, which I cut up and manipulated to make the ‘plate’ of the skirt. The plate is entirely hand sewn onto the netting. I also added Swarovski crystals to the lace.

I do not have a picture of her on stage, as the photos have not been released yet.The costume fit her perfectly and she sparkeled on stage.It’s important for the dancers to feel beautiful, confident and comfortable while performing.I did several fittings with the dancer during the construction.The tutu took over 60 hours to make.It is a labor of love that I really enjoy.

The bodice was made using a private designers pattern, which I altered and changed.

I’ve been sewing for over 35 years. I started making ballet costumes for about 12 years, and have volunteered as a costume mistress for a local dance studio. I’ve recently started my own business – Tutus en Tournant. I also do bridal alterations and make specail occasion dresses.

Thank you, Brenda Smith

Sign up for the Threads eletter


Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in


  1. cynsew | | #1

    This is exquisite! Nothing else needs said.

  2. NinaLBoston | | #2

    What exquisite detail went into this dance costume! I wish I could see more of the detail of quilting the tutu into its incredible shape. I hope the dancer enjoyed wearing your creation as much as I enjoy seeing it!
    It must be especially challenging sewing for a person who is in essence an athlete. Are your costumes used in multiple seasons and do they need alteration to fit other dancers? Or are they created for only one dancer and performance?
    I hope your dance costume and special occasion dress business does well -- you deserve it!

  3. bbnsmith | | #3

    Thank you for the kind comments. Nina,this particular tutu was custom made for the dancer. I donated a 'custom made' tutu to an annual fundraising auction, for our dance studio. I make many tutus for the studio and those are made to be altered each year to fit different dancers. Sometimes, there are 2 different dancers wearing one costume in one weekend. It makes it more challenging. We reuse our costumes and some are over 15 years old - they are so expensive to make, we can't make new ones every year. I love working with the dancers and seeing their smiling faces when they fit and watching them on stage in the lights is the best part! Quilting the layers of netting is very time consuming, but worth the effort. You can achieve different looks - pancake style, belle shaped, etc. depending on how tight you quilt them. It's quite the process, but absolutely love making them. Each one, is different and the embellishing is sew much fun!

  4. User avater
    GrammyD | | #4

    Any dancer would feel magical in this gorgeous tutu. Well done! - Devon

  5. SuzSews | | #5

    It is a gorgeous piece. I was not at all surprised that you won, and was honored to be a finalist with you! I think my own daughter had a hard time voting for her dress after seeing the tutu. Congratulations and good luck with your business. I'd love to see more of your work.

  6. marijke1 | | #6

    Amazingly beautiful! The ballet studio is very fortunate to have you work for them!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

More From Threads

Discussion Forum

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All


Shop the Store

View All
View More