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The Costume Trunk: Tutu-riffic -- a totally adjustable tutu!

October 19, 2010

Who doesn't adore the fluff and whimsy of a tutu? For kids, for adults... even for pets! Tutus are easy to make and are a fab addition to your costume collection. Tutus also allow you to play with color, layering in different tones or keeping things monochromatic, and they are simply fun to wear for children of all ages.

As you may have heard around the school yard, tulle can be a little persnickety to work with. Think of it like approaching a feral animal -- you want to be confident and in charge, but keenly aware that of its unpredictable nature.

Here's how I make a quick, adjustable tutu:

- Cut a length of scrap ribbon 5-7" larger than the intended wearer's waist. (This will not show on the finished product.)
- Cut a piece of tulle 4-5x longer than the your ribbon, and twice the length you want the tutu to be. 5x will give you more volume, of course, but if you need to economize, 4x works, too! My pieces are 5 yards long and 54" wide.
- Cut as many pieces of tulle as you want layers in your tutu. 2 works but can be a little anemic. 3 is better, and 4 gives you pretty good opacity, depending on the color you use.
- Fold your tulle in half lengthwise so each piece is 4-5x the waist ribbon length and the desired length of the tutu, double layered.
(I like to use our 54" tulle because I can leave the fold in it just as it comes, there's a good color range, and the length is good for an adult tutu. If you want to take a shortcut and don't mind wasting a little bit, you can do the same for a child, maintaining the center fold and just trimming the length.)

Once all your layers are cut...

-Mark the center and quarter points on your ribbon.

-Mark the same points on each of your tulle pieces. I use a Sharpie at the fold line, as it will be hidden by the waist band in the finished garment.
-Gather your first layer of tulle to match the marks on the waist ribbon, using your gathering method of choice. I like to use a plain old needle and thread, gathering with a running stitch and machine stitching down one quarter of the waist band as I go. I have incredibly bad luck with ruffler feet and tulle (I always end up shredding the tulle to pieces), but your mileage may vary.

2stitching gathers.JPG

3stitching gathers.jpg

-Once your first layer of tulle is stitched, repeat the gathering process with the second layer, and the third and fourth of you have them!

-Try on your tutu and check the fluffiness levels. Adjust as needed. I like getting a feline opinion. (Ozzel approves.)


-Once your tutu skirt meets your requirements for voluminous glee, cut a piece of grosgrain ribbon that is 2x the length of your waist ribbon, plus 2-3"
-Stitch the grosgrain down the inside of your previous ribbon. I make 3 rows of stitching to compress all that gathered tulle as much as possible.

8applying grosgrain.jpg
-Trim any pieces of gathered tulle that are sticking up past the top edge of your grosgrain waistband.

9trimming extra.jpg

-Take the long remaining portion of the grosgrain ribbon and fold it to the front side of the waistband to encase the original ribbon entirely. Stitch it at the top and bottom edge, folding in and extra so no raw edges show.
-Sew a series of snaps or pieces of velcro  to the waistband to close your tutu. I used a scrap of snap tape I had lying in a drawer. (You should have some overlap, so you can adjust the waist slightly if needed on future wearings.)

10full circle.jpg


That's it! Your tutu is fluffy and dreamy and ready for twirling - plus, it can expand if you eat too much candy corn!



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I love this !! Holly I was wondering if you could help me a bit more with your bustle skirt you did?? I am dieing to make one and need a bit more instruction.

I love this netted skirt. Eye popping color and thanks for the methods.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dltSMuT1HN4 Let me try this for my birthday costume. Very interesting stuff. Asolutely fluffy and buddy. Well done!!!

Not only do I like how easily you made your Tutu, also love your hammy felines too. Looks like they just love being in your photos and like, including the unposed effects and looks you get from them.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on October 19, 2010 4:40 PM.

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