Any costume-making procrastinators out there? No? Just me? Don’t fret. Halloween is still almost a week away. Not enough time to get something shipped in the mail, but plenty of time to make a tutu. This week for How-To Tuesday I’ll be showing you how to make one. This tutorial features a tutu-making process that makes an especially full skirt, unlike some of the other “knot a strip of tulle around an elastic waistband” methods. It takes a bit more time but isn’t difficult; you can easily do it while you watch TV. This method is also no-sew (unless you find sewing easier than hot glue, as I do). Let’s get started!
What you will need to buy at the store is tulle (pronounced “tool”). Tulle is basically very fine mesh fabric. The finer the mesh is, the softer and looser it will be. The longer the skirt is, the less stiff it will be also. So you could make two tutus with identical amounts of fabric, but if one is several inches shorter it will stick out to the sides further. Just something to keep in mind.
You have two options for your tulle: precut tulle that is sold on rolls or tulle that is sold on bolts which you will have to cut yourself. Some stores carry hardly any colors of precut tulle (Hobby Lobby generally has a large supply, if you happen to live near one), which will leave you with tulle that is sold by the yard on bolts. This is almost always cheaper, with this tulle costing between $2-4 per yard. You’ll have to cut the tulle into strips but that’s not difficult. If you’re in a hurry and don’t mind the extra expense then go for the tulle on the rolls.
You’ll also need:
embroidery floss in a coordinating color,
ribbon for the waitband (1.5″-2.5″ wide). Measure the waist then add 18″ in order to make it long enough to tie the ends.
any additional ribbon (optional).
I wanted to make my daughter’s tutu very Halloween-y and the orange tulle just wasn’t showing up against the black. So I added a few strips of solid organza instead (organza is fabric that is very light but a bit stiff. Often it is sparkly too) and several strips of orange ribbon. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and fabrics. Tutus are meant to be fun and different!
The tricky part is figuring out how much tulle you’ll need. It will depend on how tall the child is and how long you want the skirt to be. It’s a good idea to make the tutu 3″-4″ longer than you think it needs to be (If you want the tutu to be 12″ long then cut the strips to be 15″ or 16″ long). Once it starts puffing out, it will seem a lot shorter. Remember you can make the skirt shorter, but you can’t make it longer. Arabella is 10 years old and wanted the tutu to be mid-thigh length (about 20″ long). I ended up using 5 yards of fabric (about 3-4 rolls if you’re using pre-cut). If you’re doing a skirt for a girl that’s under age 6, two rolls of pre-cut or 2-3 whole yards should do just fine. I made a much shorter tutu for Ada. It’s the same amount of tulle, but cut to only be about 14″ long.
If you are using tulle yardage, I recommend cutting strips that are 4″ wide. I like thinner strips because they help the tutu pouf out a lot. To cut the tulle you’ll want long strips that are the proper length of the tutu. So if you would like a 15″ long tutu, add 3″ (so you’ll need 18″ long strips). Cut the tulle every 18″. Once you have these really long 18″ strips, you’ll roll them up the long way. Then cut them every 4″. It’s way easier to cut tulle when it’s rolled up.
Pre-cut tulle is 6″ wide. That’s fine. It’s not a huge difference. You’ll unroll the tulle cut each strip to the proper length as you go.
Now you’ve got a giant pile of strips. Tutus that are flat across the bottom look a little dull to me. I cut the edges of my pieces with an angled edge along the bottom. You can cut several at once to make it go faster. The edges don’t need to be super tidy, so if some are sloppy, don’t worry about it.
Now it’s time to assemble your tutu! You’ll need your embroidery floss for this. Cut a piece that’s about eight feet long. Fold the embroidery thread in half. Make a knot about four inches from the folded end.
You’ll want to hook this loop to something while you’re attaching the pieces of tulle. You can place it over a doorknob, or something like that. Or you can do as I do–hook it over your toe. Kind of weird, but it works well.
You’ll want to tie a big, loose knot in you thread. Place a tulle strip inside the knot about 1/2″ from the end and tighten the thread. Tighten it really, really well. Now tie another loose knot and repeat with another strip. They should be nice and snug up against each other. Cram as many pieces of tulle as close as you can. The closer they are, the fuller the skirt will be. You’re going to do this about a million times more.
Keep tying tulle strips until the skirt is the proper length. If you run out of embroidery thread it’s no big deal. Just get another section and tie it onto the loop on the original skirt, right up againt the original section. It will all look like one continuous skirt once its finished.
Once your skirt is the desired length to wrap around the waist, it’s time to add the ribbon. You can either sew the ribbon on or use a glue gun.
If you’re using strips of ribbon as trim on the skirt, you’ll want to cut those first. Cut them to the desired length and glue them onto the waist above the threadline. Once these are in place, you’ll need add the ribbon for the waist. Just glue or sew slightly below the thread line all the way around.
Voilà! You’re tutu is finished! Have fun watching your girl dance around!