Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Real Tutu Tutorial

Ever since someone, somewhere, figured out that “tutus” can be made from tying lots and lots of strips of tulle around a strip of elastic, the classic “tutu” pattern with it’s yards and yards of gathers has fallen out of vogue. Having seen and made both types, I refuse to give in to the new tutu trend. So, when I was asked to dress up the flower girls for my brother’s wedding in tutus, I went in search of a good tutorial for a girls’ ankle length tutu and was shocked when they didn’t seem to exist.

So, since I don’t really want to study, here you are world, a tutorial for a comfortable, legitimate tutu.

For toddlers and little girls (through 6X) you will need:
45” white cotton fabric (1 yd)
108” white tulle (4-6 yds)
extra wide single fold bias tape or wide satin ribbon (3 yds)
½ inch elastic (1 yd)

Step 1: Measure your ballerina.

Make note of “W”: her waist measurement (wherever you want the tutu to hang), and “L”: the length from her waist to wherever you want the hem to hit.

Step 2: Make the lining. 

Out of the white cotton, cut a rectangle that is twice the waist measurement by the skirt length plus 2 inches. Measure down ¾ of an inch from the top of the rectangle and pin on the bias tape the entire length of the waist edge. Start about 1” from the end and stitch along the top and bottom of the bias tape to make an elastic casing, stopping about 1” from the other end. Do not finish ends. This will be the inside most layer of the tutu. The side with the bias tape will face in.

Step 3: Fight with the tulle
Fold the tulle width-wise until it is the approximate length you want the tutu to be. For example, if you want 20” long skirt, and have 108” wide tulle. You will fold it into fifths. (NOTE: You might have to trim a few inches of width from the tulle if your length isn’t even close to a multiple of the width. If it really has to be an exact length you will need to trim to make sure each layer is exactly ¾” longer than you wanted the skirt to be. But really, it’s a tutu…)
Make sure that you have at least 5 layers of tulle and that it is at least 4 times the waist measurement long (6 times the length is better for a more full tutu). If your tutu is longer than 21” so you can only fold the tulle 4 times, you may want to supplement with an added length of 45” or 54” tulle. Using a hand needle and a length of thread about three to four times the waist measurement, run a row of loose stitches the entire length of the tulle. These don’t need to be particularly even or tidy.

Step 4: Attach the lining.
Gather the tulle on this line of stitches until it is the same length as your rectangle of cotton (the lining). With the hem tape facing up pin the tulle onto the lining at the top edge. If you weren’t particularly careful when folding the tulle, make sure the longest layers are on the bottom (against the lining) during this step.
Using a ½” seam allowance, carefully machine stitch the two layers together, stitching the gathers into place.
Step 5: Make the back seam and insert elastic.
Flop the tulle out of the way and bring together the two sides of the lining, matching the bias tape casings together facing one another. That is, join the skirt into a tube with the bias tape on the inside of the tube. Keep the inch of unfixed bias tape on each end OUT of the seam when you stitch this length.
Cut the elastic to one inch larger than the waist measurement. Using a safety pin, lace the elastic through the casing. Then, zig-zag stitch the ends together.
Again, clawing the tulle out of the way, carefully stitch along the top and bottom of your elastic casing at the opening. Elastic should now be sealed away in this casing.

Step 6: Hem 
Hem the bottom edge of the cotton lining up one inch. Turn the tutu “right side out” so that the seams are sandwiched between the tulle layer and the cotton layer, with the cotton layer facing in and the tulle layer facing out.


Ynette Evans said...

I just want to say THANK YOU for this! I want to make a tutu for myself, and I have been refusing to tie bits of tulle scraps on string!

Rachael Kramer said...

Same here! I have been looking everywhere thinking surely there is a better way than tying knots to a headband! Thank you!

Rachael Kramer said...

Same here! I have been looking everywhere thinking surely there is a better way than tying knots to a headband! Thank you!