I taught ballet to adults in 2016. Of course, one must have the Perfect Work Wardrobe, so I sewed quite a few dance clothes. Of course.
The work sewing started off well. In March I headed down to Brisbane for training to instruct Barre Attack (A combination of ballet, pilates and fitness). I also checked out a few fabric stores. Of course. I found some great quality lycras – two blues and a grey (not pictured), and some red floral lightweight polyester.
I went for some chiffons, too.
The darker blue lycra very promptly got sewn up into a pair of shorty-harem pants I wear for pilates and teaching ballet. I used my trusty stretch-knit yoga pants pattern, which is figure-hugging. I just widened the shorts-bit, gathered it onto the pattern’s normal waistband, and gathered the legs onto a leg-band I created.
I made up the red floral and purple floral, and some black chiffon in my stash, into babuchas similar to these below. (No photo of mine, found on pinterest).
Sadly though, they were terrible for teaching (or dancing) ballet in. I was landing from a pirouette while wearing a pair and my toe got caught in the gathered fabric where it joins the band. eeek. Almost fell 😦 So I stuffed all three of them into the back of the wardrobe where all my tango gear hides. Maybe one day I’ll have the health to get back into tango, but for the moment I really just have to focus on ballet.
My next project was to use that gorgeous purple chiffon to make something like shown below. For teaching, you understand. For teaching!
Sadly, see the result, below. (sans straps, I didn’t bother with them, they weren’t going to save the dress.
Don’t they all look so lovely here?
What went wrong? the pattern was shite. I played it safe by using a commercial simplicity pattern of adult tutus. A sheath with elastic above and below the bust, with gathered elastic shoulder straps in a revoltingly unflattering way. What was I thinking??? Oh yeah that’s right. For teaching. The chiffon is too see-through as well. Or I needed ten layers of it, as it looks to be in the Inspiration Dress.
I still want to have a dress like this, but I’ll design it myself using my peasant top/dress pattern.
Next project: A hair bun cover. It actually helped to keep my crazy hair secure in a bun but the shape was weird. Ballerina buns are rounder and flatter than this. Again I had played it safe and followed some (retro) crochet pattern. Next time I’ll keep playing with it till I get it how I want. It’s made out of ribbon from some awe-inspiringly awesome yarn/embroidery/handicrafty shop in central Sydney years ago. Plenty more for another try, or 20!
Next, a real win created from a fail. I bought a black short-sleeved leotard online, which, in spite of the product description’s measurements, was too short in the body. Or it was assume the dancer’s body would be 1/4 the circumference of mine? (This is very common in rtw ballet gear. Normal-sized, let alone plus-sized people aren’t supposed to dance ballet apparently *rolls eyes*). I decided I’d lengthen it and transform it into a leotard-dress.
I went to Spotlight and auditioned fabrics for the part and settled on this gorgeous turquoise and black ‘dry knit’. I took the sleeves off the leotard and replaced them with dry knit flutter sleeves. I cut and sewed the sleeve material into a band. Then I took a very deep breath, reminded myself if I didn’t do this I wouldn’t wear the leotard anyway so had nothing to lose, and cut it across under the bust. Next I sewed the band between the bottom and top bits, extending the body by 5cm. I sandwiched the dry knit (1/2 circle) skirt into the top seam top bit. This neatly hid the rather messy band, too. Like this!
er … Oops!
I found my unpicker and redid it. The below pictures shows the lovely swishy drape of the dry knit skirt.
This is on high rotation as teaching wear. I feel comfortable, my students can see the bits of my body I need them to see and it’s so easy to chuck on over a pair of tights. The fabric was so wide I was able to get a pair of knee-length harem pants of the same style as the blue above, too. I wear them on high rotation too, as they’re practical and comfortable for pilates as well.
More to come! This was only the start of my dance sewing adventures!