Janne Robberstad

Welcome to my site! I work as a costume-designer and an artist, and creating, or ARTING as I prefer, makes me happy! This is both a portfolio of things I´ve made and a blog meant to inspire.

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By spotogspindel | May 29, 2010

This week I am in the Opera house in Oslo attending a tutu-workshop. We are making skirts for the annual “The Nutcracker”-show- The old tutus are 15 years old, and well-worn, and now they needed new ones. I was given the candy-colored tulle you see here:

In not-so-long it will turn into one of the Pea-flower-fairies skirt.

Here is my new friend for the week. I´ve hardly ever sewn on an industrial sewing machine before, so it is slightly intimidating. But only slightly.

First thing on the agenda: I have to make the panty to sew the skirt on to.

Three layers of tulle, marking the pattern.

Half way done.

And done!

(See, it seems like so little, when it´s done like that in three pictures, but it actually took most of the first day.)

Sewing on the loop for the metal-“spine” on the 10th layer. Which is actually the layer you first sew on.

This layer is the first one you sew onto the panty. One layer down, 13 to go…

After just three layers, I´m using weights to help me hold down all the fabric.

Here, the first five layers are in place, already it´s pretty much fabric. These are the top layers, but the final skirt will have a last layer (part of the dress) resting on top of here.

So, here comes the fun part… After sewing the first five layers on, as if it was a normal skirt, you turn the whole thing around, to sew the remaining layers on, as if it was an upside-down skirt.

Oh. Micro-break! We were told we needed those to stretch our bodies, so we wouldn´t get all kinds of aches. Above is Eva, the Swedish angel-look-alike who is making the same skirt as me.

My former student and colleague, Silje, who now works at the opera, was also attending the course. She´s working on a sugar-plum-skirt.

Anyway, back to work. (I might have reached day two here) Pinning away the first layers, so they won´t get in the way, and then pinning down the 9th layer.

This is a very good work-out if you want to build muscles! You really have to fight with a lot of fabric that really wants to go the opposite way of where you want.

It´s getting kind of crowded above the hips. I still need about 4-5 layers, and that one centimeter of panty you can still see, can´t be sewn into, as there is going to be adjustable elastic there…

These skirts are actually impossible to make. It´s a twisted idea kind of like when that Chinese emperor dreamed of a beautiful women with tiny feet, and they started binding women´s feet in China. It´s not natural. Or more precis, it´s fighting nature. Just like sewing 10 layers of crunched tulle onto 3 cm. There is bound to be overlapping at one stage or the other.

I realize that the comparison to Chinese tiny feet is a bit off. But you get my point, right?

I mean, you can hardly even see the sewing needle anymore. Still a couple of layers to go.

It´s growing…

New micro-break: My neighbor, Johanna is making a cream-colored tutu. She is a retired ballerina, now seamstress, and can now make her own tutus!

Pinning down the last layer!

Showing the inside with all the not-so-perfectly-straight-seams.

Finally! All the tulle is in place! YES!!!

The crotch-part of the panty is sewn on at last, by hand, so it is easy to undo. The tulle doesn´t do too well with water, so by un-stitching this part, it is easier to keep the hygenic standard we all like.

This is the end of day three.

Ok. Day four. Last day. Stitching down the “bask” (I have no idea what the English names are for the different parts and techniques. sorry) This is done relatively quickly, as it will be removed later and replaced with the real one in the right color. We just need it on now, for the next step.

Does anybody else thinks this looks like an sea-anemone? (I can´t find the right spelling for this sea-plant-creature. Help?)

Some of my colleagues in the course, from different theaters in Norway. And one from Denmark.

Getting the metal cord into layer ten. This will stiffen the skirt, and help it stand out from the body.

Getting it in place, and making all the wrinkles even around the cord.

What is this pastel alien??!!

Starting to pin down the layers again. This time in a very strict matter. Kind of combing the fabric, layering three and three layers, pinning and sewing them together with special knots. In Norwegian it´s called “takking”.

Oh, you thought I was cheating, didn´t you!? But nope, that really is me, working in the Opera House for almost a week! Yay for me!

The special “takke”-knot.

One of my other course-neighbors, Kristin, trying on her tutu. What a brilliant idea! I sneaked into the fitting room and…

The bottom part is finished “takka”, the top I started on, but was unable to finish. I did however want to try it on. The “fluff” on top will be forced down by the thread once it is “takka”. I know it doesn´t look as elegant with jeans underneath, and me posing in a classic camera-position. But who cares!

It feels kind of cool to have made a tutu that will be used on stage every December for maybe the next 15 years…

It certainly is a true test of one´s patience, being very particular in every detail and it just plain takes a long time to make. I want to make one for myself later. But it won´t be this week… 🙂

Topics: Costumedesign, Technique, workshops | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Tulle-tu-tu”

  1. Justin Segal Says:
    May 29th, 2010 at 17:42

    wow, what an odyssey, Janne!

    … great picto-graphic story telling here, and great to see you trying on the tutu at the end!

    Looks like a fun week!

  2. Nancy S Says:
    May 30th, 2010 at 04:55

    I don’t know how you managed. All those fussy layers would have driven me crazy. They do look so beautiful on the stage though. Good work, it’s lovely!

  3. michelle Says:
    May 30th, 2010 at 13:05

    ummmm. SO COOL are you!!!! looks like a crazy amount of work but fun. i bet there are not many people in this entire world that know how to make a true tutu. loved your pictures and the step by step process. i have a new respect for tutus. 🙂

  4. spotogspindel Says:
    May 30th, 2010 at 18:35

    It was two dreams come true in one week: learning to sew a tutu and working at the Opera! Exhausting, but great! 🙂

  5. indigorchid Says:
    May 31st, 2010 at 17:38

    Oh, this looks like so much fun! What a cool oppurtunity!

  6. Erin Leigh Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 17:28

    this is really really cool, janne! so fun + hard, but what a great experience. i don’t ever think i’d have the patience!

  7. lulu Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 06:43

    Wow! Who knew tutus were so intense?! Your tutu is just too, too! (Sorry about the pun.) oh, and your sea-anemone spelling was spot on, not to mention the tutus resemblance to the anemone!
    : ) lulu

  8. Susan Roux Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 12:35

    From a former childhood ballerina, this is awesome! Thanks for showing it all in progress.