Saturday, April 4, 2009

How To Make a Tutu (with photos)

Ever since Wednesday's photo shoot, DeLaynie has been tutu crazy. She enjoyed the experience of the tutu so very much that I came home and made each girl her very own tutu, as I mentioned previously. It was surprisingly easy. I decided to make a little how-to for those who have been hit by the recession (from what I hear, the tutu budget is the first thing cut), and for those who never had such a budget before the recession. If you are not in those categories, or if you don't have two hours (maybe three, or four if you include a little "helper" in the process), you may go here to purchase a better one than you could probably make. A little warning, though: if you're a perfectionist, this may be difficult. If scrapbooking gets you on edge, and you can't imagine a life without a tutu, just buy one.


This tutu costs about $7.50 to make, and that's if you make it very full. I highly recommend them as gifts because they're incredibly thoughtful, and very cheap. Here's what you'll need:

  1. Tulle- I used 6 yards for DeLaynie's and 5 for Ella's. One lady whose instructions I read only used 2 for a child DeLaynie's size. It wasn't as full, but it was still pretty. You can use two or three coordinating colors, or just one if you want to go simple. I went with three, and was very happy about it. With Ella's, I did 2 yards of the dark color and 1 1/2 yards each of the lighter, coordinating colors. For DeLaynie's, I did 2 yards each. Don't stress too much over this decision. Just make sure the colors look nice together, and that you have enough tulle. (The world's smallest WalMart had all I needed at about a buck a yard.)
  2. Elastic- I used elastic that was 1/2 inch wide. It worked great. (Again, I found it in the craft department of the local WalMart. $1.18 for way more than I needed for two tutus.

  3. Ribbon, in coordinating colors to the tulle- I got 2 yards of each color, one per tutu. I matched the ribbon to the darkes, and therefore dominant, color of the tutu. I just love repeating the word, "tutu." Tutu, tutu, tutu! (And, yes. This too was available at Wally Market for about $.68 for two yards. We hope to one day have a WalMart that qualifies for the accepted title of Wally World. For now, it's just a market, not a world.)

  4. Needle and thread, if you don't have any- I did. I didn't have to buy it. One woman used staples, but that wouldn't last six minutes with my girls, and it sounds dangerous.

Now, do you have everything together? Good. Let's get started with the fun part. If your daughter is old enough, cooperative enough, and crafty enough, she may want to help. I think that it would be completely possible for a preschooler meeting the qualifications listed to help. Unfortunately, DeLaynie isn't cooperative or crafty most of the time when it comes to my ideas. She's very creative with mud, though. Ella is not old enough, but I have a feeling that this will be right up her alley in a year or two. I was alone in making these tutus.

  1. Start by cutting the tulle into 6"strips. If you think through it really carefully, you can layer them in such a way that they are already in the order in which you plan to put them on the tutu. (For Ella's the pattern was purple-pink-purple-white-purple-pink-purple-white. DeLaynie's was hot pink-white-light pink-hot pink-white-light pink.) If it hurts your head to try to think through it that meticulously, just cut the strips according to color. Just try to make sure that the number of strips works out. (Ella's tutu needed twice as many purple strips as lighter colored strips. DeLaynie's needed an equal number of each.) If not, you'll have one or two strips of tulle to throw away, no biggie. The length of the strips needs to be twice as long as the desired length of the final tutu. I used strips that were 26 inches long, so that the final product was 13 inches long. I would've though that would be too short, but it wasn't at all. (Each bolt of tulle is 52 inches wide, so I just the length in half after cutting the strips. I kept the tulle doubled during the cutting, so I cut at the fold. It sounds sooooo much more complicated than it is.)
  2. Now, you need to cut the elastic. I wasn't about to try to get an accurate measurement by wrapping it around Ella or DeLaynie's waist. Neither of them do very well constrained. I used pants that fit them well, and wrapped the elastic around them like measuring tape. Then I added 1 inch and cut. Overlap the ends by about 1/2 inch, and sew them together. Like I mentioned previously, one woman stapled the ends together. I guess you could do that if you are completely inept with a needle and thread, but it really doesn't have to look good at all. It just needs to be strong enough to put up with being pulled on a lot. You'll end up with a loop of elastic like this:


  3. The next step is to start attaching tulle. The way to do this is to double the tulle, place it under the elastic, and pull the ends through the loop that is at the fold. It's like pulling a ponytail through an elastic band, sort of. This is a good place for your daughter to help. She can pull the tulle through. It really isn't that difficult, and perfection isn't nearly as important as the experience (says the woman who made the tutus alone). I tried to draw a diagram of what this looks like, but there really isn't a way for someone so completely inept in all things vaguely similar to drawing to do that. Try to figure it out from this photo. It's completely clear, right?

    When they're correct, they look like this:

  4. Keep doing this. Don't tighten the loops too much, or you'll end up stretching out the elastic. I did that and I had to trim the length, which was a pain after it's finished. When you have attached all the tulle, it should look like this:
    Pretty, eh? I got mine pretty full. Fuller than totally necessary. It stands up on its own, which makes me think about the petticoat that Rhett Butler bought for Mammy (in Gone With The Wind). After I finished all of that, I attached a bow to the front, or back, though it usually ends up being the side when DeLaynie's wearing it.

It does look lovely sitting there, doesn't it? But the true test of a tutu's greatness is not how it looks against a wall. It's how the child feels while wearing it.

I think we have a winner!

She rarely takes it off. The only occasions she seems to think worthy of its removal are bath time, bed time, and going out. There are exceptions to that last one, too. Today I let her swing with it on. You would've thought she was in Heaven for the giant grin on her face. That is $15 well spent, because Ella enjoys hers, too. It's great to finally find something extremely girly that DeLaynie enjoys. Here are a couple of pictures of the girls enjoying playtime in their tutus, not that I am trying to compete with Samantha. Nope. Not even gonna try.



35 comments:

Rachel said...

That's such a fun idea!! I'm going to have to try it - I'm sure that Ali would also be in love with one.,

Anonymous said...

this is SUCH a great idea ^^
i have a 6 year old sister who has been dying for a tutu. i'm glad that i can make this for her :]
thank you!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial. Now you need to make matching fairy wings.

Blessings,hc

TexStBobcat said...

This is sooo easy to make! Thanks for the great idea! I'm making one that is my college's colors lol

Linda Graves said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I wanted to make a tutu for my little girls first bithday pictures and couldn't figure out how to do it. Thanks again!!!!!

Anna said...

Thanks so much for the detailed description of how you made the tutus!

Kami said...

Did you say how to do the ribbon? Yes, I need instructions for everything! Maybe I missed it? I'm so excited - thank you so much for the instructions! I'm going to make one for my 7 month old to get her picture taken in!! YAY! Walmart, here I come :)

pixieleedust said...

I just want to let you know that you did a wonderful job in explaining this! Thank you so much...now I can make some tutus for my twin daughters! Thanks again and God bless! nancy

Anonymous said...

Someone stole your directions!
http://mylifeasmrsdempsey.blogspot.com/

CTStudios said...

Thank you fo these wonderful instructions; I now know what my favorite neice is getting for Christmas.

P.S. Your blog is gorgeous

Nancy said...

Thanks so much - Haley's tutu looks amazing!

123 123 said...

Interesting blog you got here. I'd like to read a bit more concerning this matter. Thanks for posting that information.
Sexy Lady
Blonde escorts UK

momx5 said...

Thankyou so much for the EASY to follow directions! After reading this I went and bought all the things I needed to make my babys first bday tutu. I ended up using 140 yds for two multi colored tutu'S which of course they are so full they stand up on their own! very pretty....perfect for pictures! Thankyou!

Hannah A. said...

I am so glad to discover that these instructions have been helpful to wonderful mommies and grandmas!

To attach the ribbon, put the ribbon against the elastic when you're attaching the last piece of tulle. Once you have tightened the tulle, tie the ribbon into a bow and use hot glue or superglue to keep it tied permanently.

Anonymous said...

I had a great time making these with my daughter and a little girl I babysit. My daughter is 4 and the other girl is 6 and they take dance together. They loved them. I added a few more bows and a couple of flowers that I got in the sewing section at walmart. I had a suggestion that might take the prep time down. I am not sure how well it would work though. I saw they sell 6" spools of tulle online at JoAnn Fabrics. It might help. I am going to try it next time. Thank you so much for such great instructions.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love you!!! I am costuming a show for my college and am running short on time! This is a quick and easy solution to creating a tutu for a, well, larger adult. You truly have saved me so much time and effort and I am forever grateful! P.S. I think your way is so creative and lovely I might have to make one for myself... I have always loved tutu's! Thanks again!!

Heather said...

SO glad you posted this! My daughter is going to her Cousin's 1st bday party this weekend & needed a 'princess outfit' to wear. I am nearly done with my tutu and have woven ribbons in it too. It is awesome! I cannot wait for my baby girl to wake up in the morning to try it on. Thanks SO much for sharing! Very good directions! :)

trucyan said...

Thanks soo much! I am so excited to get started on my daughters tutus =)

Lena and Adam said...

Thank you so much for such detailed explanation. I have never made tutus and a newbie as far as sewing projects go and your instructions were so clear and answered all my questions that I had. I can't wait to make my first tutu tomorrow.

Sydnee said...

Im making one for my 3 year old cousin for her birthday. I was wondering how many yards of tulle to get?(i was planning on using four colors)

thanks=]

Anonymous said...

Haha, I'm trying to make a tutu for myself..I'm dressing up as Alice in Wonderland for my 23rd birthday...I've been trying to find easy to follow instructions for ages! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trying idea!!! I was going to sew the tutu for my daughters highschool homecoming! We live in "Friday Night Lights" Texas. It only took us about 40 minutes including all cutting & trying!!!! Thanks again.
Lisa & Brooke

Jane Finne said...

Great Blog, i love to make tutus it one of my greatest reward, when i see piccys of children in my tutus, give me goose bumps...
always had problems though with putting ribbon around the elastic never looks quie right when i do it, must need more practice...

I do however make alot of princess dresses, maybe you could take a little peek and let me know what you think :)

Great advice thank you Bless Jane

Lori Wright said...

I so appreciated your pics on how to make a Tutu, I needed one quick and was so glad to see your website....Thank you...Lori.

Letty said...

wow!!! i was looking online for outfits for a photoshoot for my daughter who is turning 6 months. Then I remembered someone mentioning tutus, and I love tutus! You explained this oh so well! I'm going to head to the craft store as soon as she wakes up from her nap! I'll update you on how it came out

Anonymous said...

I love this! It seems so simple. I am going to make one for my daughter and one for my niece who is yet to be born :) She should be here in September. I can not wait!!

Unknown said...

Thank you that is so easy and fun. My daughters will enjoy having more than one tutu. Thanks you

Molly said...

Hi there! I just made a ladybug tutu for my daughter using your instructions. It was so easy and quick! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much I love doing crafty things and tho I have boys and no girls I love making my friends girls birthday gifts Im heading out to my local wally market to buy my supplies and get started.. Thank you so much for ur instructions they seem very clear and easy to understand...

L. Shoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L. Shoe said...

YAY! My little girl LOVES her tutu. Thanks so much for the instructions. I'm ready to make the next one!!! Oh...and YES, 6 yards is plenty. Her tutu is HUGE! I doubt she can sit down in the thing.

Anonymous said...

this looks so easy, i have started to make bows and i got interested in makeing tutus =) and yu make it look so easy thamks for shareing!! =)

Bele said...

I love the tutus for my nieces ill soon be making some for them thanks for the info God bless

Kay said...

I but my tulle in spools that are 6in wide and 25yds, around $3. I recently made 3 with a solid and glittered for a friends flower girls in her wedding, gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

That's really cute!...n your girls lk lke they luv them :) gd job!