Friday, 9 July 2010

Ballet sewing

I don't know many people in real life who sew.  Sometimes I feel a bit of an oddball for doing so much sewing.  But there is one place I go to regularly where I fit right in, and where almost everyone knows about sewing.  O's ballet school.

Whether or not they knew anything about sewing when their daughters took up ballet, by the time their daughters have been there a few months, all the mothers have learnt to sew.

You start off by sewing elastic straps onto ballet shoes.  Not too taxing, but important to get right, so that the ballet shoes fit properly and the elastic doesn't ping off in the middle of an exercise thanks to lazy-mum sewing.  O gets through ballet shoes at the rate of two pairs a term, so that's many, many, many elastics sewn over the past four and a half years.

Sweet chubby legs wearing new shoes with new elastics - January 2007

Then the teachers will send the girls home with little bits of slippery silk, or satin, that need to be hemmed, or edged with lace, to become scarves or handkerchiefs or other dancing props.  Small girls learning ballet seem to do an awful lot of leaping about with floaty scarves.

And then a bit further down the line - when you get so blase that you can attach a pair of elastics onto shoes a scant five minutes before class - comes the ballet show.

Ballet shows require proper dance costumes, and proper dance costumes require alterations, adjustments and naming.  The costumes are ordered by the teachers and you are lulled into thinking that there is no sewing required - because someone else is making the costume.  But that's not quite how it happens.  Ballet costumes never seem to come with straps attached.  Like the elastics for the shoes, you need to attach the straps yourself, to ensure the best possible fit for the costume.  And you definitely don't want shoulder straps pinging off halfway through a performance thanks to lazy-mum sewing.  And then the teachers decide that the costumes look a bit plain, so could you please add a ribbon hem? or sew some floaty gauze over the back yoke?  Oh, and could you please sew nametapes onto everything, including socks and feather head-dresses because there will be fifty small girls in the green room, all wearing near identical outfits.

But it's fine.  I'm an old pro at this now.  I didn't even blink when on Wednesday I was given a tutu needing straps attached, a pile of blue sequinned fabric strips and vague directions from the teachers to make wrist cuffs and epaulettes to go with the tutu (and don't forget to nametape the wrist cuffs).  Neither did any of the other mothers.  We nodded and offered to share our stash of velcro with those who'd run out, and took our small, excited ballet dancers home to get ready for their show.

A froth of net and blue sequins - WIP

Showing me how the tutu fits - with straps partly attached and blue sequins yet to come


  1. This actually frightens me! And to think that I had been meaning to visit to tell you that this week I have made five curtains for a friend's daughter's playhouse. I'll not bother now. And I've also lost the nerve I had to order "your" book. I'll have to send the strawberries to ballet school first!

  2. Ha! Give me ballet elastics over curtains any day. The curtains I "made" for our bedroom nine years ago are still un-hemmed and don't quite meet in the middle.

  3. Oh good, good, good, more excuses to sew. No.2 is keen to start so no.1 has decided she will go back to it too. We never got to the costumes last time but maybe this time around? Your girl looks very sweet in hers.

  4. Thank goodness for modern dance.

  5. Gosh, your post brought back so many memories of my mother sittng for hours on end making costume after costume for my ballet shows!! Lucky O to have you as her mother to make her so many lovely clothes and costumes.
    The Tutu is gorgeous and she really does look BEAUTIFUL in it.
    Have a great weekend,
    Jane. xx

  6. Wowser what a beautiful tutu, I dream of making my own and wearing it ;0) I love tutu's, she looks gorgeous.

    Super blog :0)


  7. That all takes me back to making costumes for school plays.

  8. Ohhhh! she looks fabulous-I want a tutu too!!
    You will be proud of me-I had my second sewing lesson this week and my sofa is now adorned by fabulous new cushions. I am planning curtains, new tops, skirts...and maybe a tutu?!

  9. Oh, I love that proper sticky-out tutu! q

  10. she is looking very fantastic i love it . . . .
    your article is very informative .
    and nice ballet fit suit for babies . . . .

    Ballet barre | Ballet clothing

  11. your post is outstanding
    Lots of people not understand about ballet .
    That's why we have great tips and tricks of ballet .
    its complete guide line for interested . . . .

    Ballet business | \A\Rachel Withers
    Become a ballet instructor | Where can I go to a ballet fitness class


Even though I often do not have the time to reply to everybody, I really appreciate all your comments so much - thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts on what I've written.