I have often heard that there is a “10-Foot Rule” in costuming, meaning that it doesn’t matter if the work is sloppy because you won’t see it on stage.  What do you think of this rule?


This is NOT what we believe, nor is it what we teach in our seminars. Most people come to TutuSchool because they are either making costumes in exchange for ballet tuition (a form of payment) OR they are starting a business and want people to pay them real money for tutus.  The number of times I have heard people say, “It doesn’t matter what it looks like close up, from 10 feet away no one will notice,” and, “No one looks at the inside so it doesn’t matter if it is neat or not” makes me cringe!  These things may not matter when you are doing unpaid work for an all-volunteer group, but they absolutely DO matter when someone is paying you their hard-earned money to buy a costume from you.  It also matters when you take pride in the work you do, not to mention the fact that sloppy work is 99% of the time work that will not hold up well under sweat and balletic movement which can be extreme.  

When I look at a tutu, the first thing I do is I look to see if the hip line seam is properly finished.  If not, I personally would not buy that tutu no matter how pretty the outside is.  The phrase, “Lipstick on a pig” comes to mind.  There are several good ways to finish that seam - one is permanent, meaning you won’t be able to remove that basque.  Two others we use do not impede the ability to remove the basque, if necessary, though most people (including me!) would rather make a whole new tutu than change out a basque!

When that seam is left unfinished, it not only looks amateur, but it is uncomfortable for the dancer because all that itchy tutu net sandwiched in that seam is exposed and quite irritating to the dancer, even with under garments on.  As costumers, it is our job to support the dancer and make them as comfortable as possible while also realizing the designer’s vision.  Costume technicians are the engineers who figure out how to successfully make that balance happen.

Another part of the inside finish work that must be neat is how the piping and/or facings are finished at the side seams and center back and front, and how they are sewn down to the linings.  I will talk about this in another FAQ soon.  Bottom line is this: tutus are not inexpensive and do tend to be high maintenance.  You owe it to your client to make a product that is structured well, strong enough to withstand the rigors of choreography, and BOTH looks and feels good, both inside and out.