Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tulle Tutu Tutorial

Lately our house has been filled with a lot of dancing! Our daughter recently discovered ballet and has been spinning and "arabesque-ing" all over the place (followed by a bow after every performance!). I couldn't be happier because I love ballet! I'll admit I've watched a little too much of White NightsThe Turning Point, and ballet specials and she is on the same track with Angelina BallerinaPrima Princessa, and ballet YouTube videos and PBS specials.

There is something so magical and whimsical about ballet, I completely understand the appeal to little girls... it was only a matter of time before she asked us for a tutu. I, of course, wanted to make one, so the two of us sat down and picked out the exact colors she wanted, then we went shopping together for the supplies. I wanted her tutu to be very full and fluffy and have a lot of movement to it. This is what I came up with!

Here's what you'll need for the tulle tutu:
  • Tulle - I used tulle spools in three different colors. The tulle off the spools is 6 inches in width and 25 yards long. I used four spools in total: one purple, one dark blue, and two light blue. (Wow, 100 yards of tulle! I hadn't thought about it until now! That's the length of a football field!)
  • 3" Grosgrain Ribbon - I used the ribbon to make the waist. I opted for the wider ribbon because I planned to fold it in half.
  • Embellishment - Optional. If you want to add a little sparkle to the waist band. Anything goes here: sparkly ribbon, pretty buttons, beads, bows, etc.
  • Sew-on Snaps -  I wanted to make the tutu adjustable so I used snaps to close it. I don't recommend velcro as a closure for the tutu... it will stick like crazy to the tulle and ultimately destroy it.
  • Thread - Match the color of the grosgrain ribbon. 

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Before starting, measure your child's waist (my daughter's waist is 19.5 inches) and determine how long you will want the tutu to be (I made hers 20 inches long).

1 - Cut out a piece of foam board or cardboard approximately 10 inches wide and the length of the tutu (in my case, 20 inches). This board is going to be used to cut all the tulle to size. It is the quickest and most painless way I could think of to get 100 yards of tulle cut into 20 inch strips.

2 - Wrap the tulle around the foam board. Run the spool around and around until all the tulle is off the spool and on the board.

3 - Cut the tulle at both ends of the foam board. Be careful to hold the tulle in place while cutting the first end. You don't want the tulle to fall off the board.

4 - Cut the rest of the tulle in the same manner.

5 - Next lay out the grosgrain ribbon and cut it to the desired length plus 3 inches (the extra 3 inches are for hemming the ends). Since the tutu I made has an adjustable waist, I added about 4 inches to the 19.5 inches I had measured around my daughter's waist:

            Waist Measurement  +  Adjustable Length  +  Hem Allowance  =  26.5 inches
                  (19.5 inches)                  (4 inches)                   (3  inches)       

6 - Fold the grosgrain ribbon in half and iron it.

7 - If you are adding a ribbon as an embellishment, pin it along the length of the grosgrain ribbon.

8 - Unfold the grosgrain ribbon and sew the embellishment onto it.

9 - To make the hem of the grosgrain ribbon, first unfold it, then fold the ends over twice and sew.

10 - Lay the grosgrain ribbon down on a large surface and open it in the shape of an L. Start placing the strips of tulle along the length of the ribbon. The ends of the tulle strips should sit along the crease of the ribbon. I placed two strips at a time and overlapped the strips so that the skirt would be very full and fluffy.

11 - When you reach the end of the ribbon, go back to the beginning and add another layer of tulle on top of the tulle you just placed. Repeat until all the tulle is gone.

12 - Carefully fold the grosgrain ribbon over the layers of tulle and pin in place. All of the tulle should be secured to the ribbon.

13 - Sew the tulle to the ribbon. I sewed it twice, once along the middle and once at the base of the ribbon where the tulle meets the ribbon. 

14 and 15 - Hand sew your snaps on.

Fluff the tulle and you are done! 

Here is the finished tutu! I loved it, it is so full and moves beautifully when my daughter dances around! The whole process took about 3 hours and I would consider this a beginner-level sewing project, since you only have to sew straight lines. 

Let your little ballerina dance and dream!

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