I’ve made a tutu or twenty in the last few years. They’re great for dress-up and also serve as a nice pettiskirt under big, fluffy dresses. I needed to make a new one in a bigger size to go under Olivia’s costume for the Nutcracker, so I took a few extra minutes to snap some pictures of the process. Tutus are inexpensive to make , but take a little time since you’ll be gathering quite a lot of tulle to get the desired puff effect. I finish the gathered skirt with a soft lining and knit waistband so that the tulle isn’t scratchy against the kids’ skin. Have someone in mind that would like one? I’ll show you how to make a tutu right now!
Begin by cutting your tulle into at least 10 sections. For this longer tutu, I cut each section 18″ long, giving me exactly 10 lengths from the 5 yards of tulle. The length to cut the tulle will depend on how long you want the skirt – measure from your child’s waist to the desired finished length of the skirt and cut all lengths of tulle according to this measurement. Fold the tulle on your cutting mat, matching selvage edges and then folding one more time – this makes it easier to cut with a rotary blade. Use a rotary cutter for the smoothest edge on the tulle.
Next, gather each section of tulle along the long side. Feed each piece of tulle into your sewing machine right after the previous so they’re all connected. I like to use a ruffling/gathering foot (affiliate link) to gather the tulle quickly – if you don’t have one, you can set your machine to a long, loose stitch length and then pull the bobbin threads when you’re done to gather the tulle by hand. Regardless of the method, gather all of the tulle as tightly as possible. Next, we’re going to fold the gathered length of tulle back and forth on itself to make one skirt piece. Measure your child’s waist and add 7″ to find the skirt width. Fold the skirt back and forth on itself to make one skirt piece equal to this determined skirt width and stitch the layers together across the top.
Cut one piece of lining from selvage edge to selvage edge and about 3/4″ shorter than the tulle layers. If you’re going to hem the lining (e.g., if the fabric frays), cut the lining piece the same length as the tulle layers and hem with a narrow hem so that it’s just slightly shorter than the tulle. Join the short ends of the lining and stitch together to form a tube. Sew a gathering stitch around the top of the lining and gather it until it measures your child’s waist measurement + 7″.
Stack the lining under the tulle and stitch the two together around the top.
For the waistband, cut two pieces of knit 5″ wide by 1/2 the waist measurement + 4″. Sew the short sides together on one side with a 1/4″ seam allowance. On the other side, sew 3.5″ down one side, leave a 1″ opening, and sew another .5″ to the edge. This is the opening we’ll put the elastic through later.
Now, fold the waistband wrong sides together and press a crease into the top.
Open the waistband up, match the raw edge and right side of the the waistband to the raw edge of the right side of the tulle/lining skirt and pin. Be sure that the side of the waistband with the opening is further away from the waistband (so that it will end up on the inside of the skirt when finished). Stitch the waistband to the skirt using a straight stitch and 3/8″ seam allowance.
Turn the waistband up and to the inside along the top pressed fold. The raw edge of the inside waistband should fall over the stitch lines on the inside of the skirt. Pin if needed. From the TOP of the skirt, use a zigzag stitch to finish the waistband, being sure to catch the raw edge on the inside of the waistband. Remove the gathering stitches from the tulle if you wish.
Measure a length of elastic equal to or 1″ shorter than your child’s waist measurement. Use a safety pin to feed the elastic through the opening on the inner waistband.
Join the two ends of elastic together and stitch with a zig zag stitch back and forth over the elastic several times. Pull the waistband to slip the elastic back into the opening and you’re done!