Tutu: The secret of tutu

Sat Mar 26 09:24:31 CST 2022

Even people who don’t dance ballet have seen a tutu that is flat and flat like a pancake. This skirt called "Tutu" is so special that you can blurt out "Ah! It's a tutu~" at a glance, which can definitely be distinguished from other types of clothes.

What is so special about it? Ask the public, the answer is: "Very fairy, very romantic", "beautiful"... Ask professional ballet dancers, the reaction is mostly to touch their heads: "Huh? Wear it every day, but instead I haven't thought about this question much."... I asked the tailors, and the answer was "In fact, I always wanted to know if there is anything special about this dress. Do you teach? I signed up to learn it."... It turns out, There are very few people who really understand the secret behind Tutu.

Of course, there are many kinds of skirts worn by ballet dancers, but the most representative one is called Tutu. There are many theories about the origin of this word, and the more recognized one is from the common name of children in French for "butt". In the following, Tutu is used to refer to the tutu.

The evolution of the Tutu skirt

To explain the world behind Tutu, you have to introduce a little history of clothing. In fact, whether in France or Italy, the ballet originated from the court wears the noble uniform of the time-stockings and high heels for men, corsets and floor-length skirts for women. The document records that the costume at the time was "wearing a mask, layered jacquard brocade, leggings, and exaggerated big headdress."

, wearing high-heeled shoes, can’t do the kind of big moves we usually do today. The actors are also mainly male, and female participation is a thing after the French Revolution. The first documented Tutu was the costume of the dance star Tarioni performing the play "Fairies" in Paris in 1832. It was developed from the long skirt in the 17th century, but in order to highlight the dancer's superb skills on the feet, the designer specially cut the skirt to the calf. This dance skirt opened the era of "Romantic Ballet" and was also called Romantic Tutu, which is quite different from the flat shape now. If you think of it as a skirt that modern people can usually wear, it's not a problem at all.

In the second half of the 19th century and the Victorian era, there appeared a Bustle shape that emphasized the hip line. The petticoat was either pleated in a circle or concentrated the pleated decoration at the back to support this silhouette. This layer of feeling, there is a bit of Tutu meaning.

Tutu skirt fabric

At this point, I have to pay attention to the fabric of this skirt. Tulle/Netting, which everyone is accustomed to today, basically did not exist before 1809... The word Tulle originated from the small town of the same name in south-central France, and has been famous for making handmade lace since the 17th century. Generally speaking, Tulle refers to a fine mesh with small holes, and Net refers to a thicker mesh with larger holes.

About Tutu skirt weaving→

The earliest mesh-like fabric is lace. Every mesh, whether square or hexagonal, is wound out by hand, thread by thread, which is extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive.

This kind of handmade net cloth, a skilled worker takes a month or more, can only knit a little bit, it is not enough to decorate the collar and cuffs for the nobles, naturally it is impossible to use a lot of ballet skirts, so they are all under the dance skirts. Cotton and linen plain weave. It was not until 1808 that a machine was developed to produce Bobbinet and a patent was registered. Later inventors improved it over the decades, and net yarns began to be produced in large quantities by machines.

Tutu skirt has five layers of fabric. If you analyze each layer carefully, one layer of silk and one layer of cotton are all natural fiber mesh yarns:

A. The outermost layer: light-colored (maybe white) silk hexagonal perforated mesh with hand-cut triangular edges. Use two thick threads through the waist to pleate;

B. The second layer: light brown pure cotton plain weave, with traces of starch sizing to keep it stiff;

C. The third layer: front piece, dirty white silk diamond-shaped fine mesh cloth, hand-cut triangular edges;

D. The fourth layer: light brown pure cotton thick square hole gauze;

E. The fifth layer: light brown pure cotton plain weave cloth, which acts like underwear

Tutu skirt length

The first ballet step was very courtly, paying attention to the elegance and nobility of the movements, and the range was very small. Female dancers could hardly see their legs; it was because of the passage of time, the development of dancers’ technical skills, and the enlightenment of culture, in order to make the audience more Clearly seeing the movements of the legs, the length of the skirt is getting shorter and shorter. Around 1870, it was finally almost as short as it is today. As a result, Tutu evolved from a romantic style to a classic style, which is now the most common Classical Tutu.

Tutu skirt production

When the skirt is lifted up to almost become a flat surface, in order to maintain this effect, the following methods are needed to support it, so that the fabric on the surface will not hang down over time:

1. Insert a special steel ring into the middle layer of the skirt bottom (there are still many wedding dresses using the same method)

2, it is supported by hard yarns that decrease inward. It is worth pointing out that the yarn is not a steel ring after all, it will still sag after a long time.

3. Preservation method: It must be placed with the skirt side down. This is why the Tutu in the costume room of the big dance troupe are all hanging upside down or stacked upside down.

Each layer of yarn is connected by hand-knots with carefully calculated length and spacing. This step determines the overall skirt shape, fluffy effect, and the degree of sagging. It is the most critical step for the skirt to follow the dancer's body and rhythm.

Designers initially added net yarn to the bottom of ballet skirts in order to use the lightness of the net yarn to highlight the beauty of transcendence and non-humanity. Against the backdrop of layers of veil, the beautified, romantic and elegant female imagery that seems not part of the world has been doubled.