Tutu Tutorial

Want to make a tutu?  You’ve come to the right place, my friend.  I’ll share with you what I’ve learned in the past year.

  1. First – learn that tutus aren’t just for little girls and ballerinas!  They are for people of all ages, sizes and are worn for a variety of reasons – parties with friends, fancy-schmancy parties, runners who are fund raising for cancers, runners wearing for inspiration in Marathons, parades (gay pride or whatever holiday calls for the frivolous), or to be creative and fun at different festivals.
"Princess" Grammy in her tutu ball gown

“Princess” Grammy in her tutu ball gown

handmade tutu worn by a festive young man at Burning Man (photo by permission, name kept unknown)

handmade tutu worn by a festive young man at Burning Man (photo by permission, name kept unknown)

2) Next, get a bunch of friends together and go to a bar in an area where lots of fabrics, trimmings and whatnot are sold.  It’s good to have sustenance before all that shopping (especially if you’re the type of person who dislikes shopping!)

Iron Burger on 38th Street, right in the center of all that fabric wonder!

Black Iron Burger on 38th Street, right in the center of all that fabric wonder!

We picked a bar on 38th Street in New York City’s famed Garment District called Black Iron Burger (blackironburgermidtown.com).  It apparently can get crowded weekdays, but we went on a Saturday afternoon.  Which, in retrospect, not a great idea as many of the shops were closed.  Anyway, we had a few rounds and got to know each other better.  Then we all headed out to the shops to cruise the fabrics and the colors.

3) Wander all the stores!  There are so many colors, textures and even sparkles to choose from!

sparkly tutu tulle

glitter tulle sheds sparkles

in the Garment District - tons of fabric...this one is practically a "tulle store"...

in the Garment District – tons of fabric…this one is practically a “tulle store”…

Tons of tulle in the Garment District

Too-Too many choices!

4) Stand in store googling how many yards you may need for your tutu.  I found 3 yards per color.

5) buy yards and yards of tulle.  Buy many colors because you can’t decide which one you like best, or because you think you’re going to make a bunch.  Or because you get dazed by the colors and choices, and maybe that one last beer makes decision-making that much more challenging.

6) go to one (or two, or what the heck, it’s right here, three) trimmings shops.  Because now you need elastic waist bands and ribbons for your projects.  Get white.  Get neon.  Get ribbons in several colors and textures because you want to make this tutu totally creative and unique.  Oh, and pick up some of those glittery, shiny things from that other store…because they are shiny and glittery and really – at these prices, why not?

7) Stop in another bar that has some catchy tunes and review all your purchases.  Celebrate with your friends a wonderful afternoon.

8) Slug all those bags home.  Sleep it off.

9) Finally find time, and take all the material out of the bag.

PART ONE – No-Sew Tutus

I was inspired to make tutus for my favorite 4-year-old nieces.  Besides, they haven’t quite developed a fine-tuned sense of “sophisticated chic” so if I screwed up a little, it would still look cute!  Fold the material the right way/length.  Cut in 4″ strips.  After struggling through the process of cutting strips and realizing tulle does not like to be cut in easy straight lines when you have it laid out on your living room carpet with shreds everywhere, watch a YouTube instruction where you see young girl after young girl “cheat” by buying pre-sized spools of tulle.

Knot the tulle strips onto ribbon.  Because that’s way easier than elastic (and you don’t have to have exact waist measurements!).  I went with red, white and blue for a 4th of July theme.  Then I added sparkly silver stars.  I’ve discovered a great fabric glue that dries clear, and just glued a ton onto the tulle.  Hey! They’re four years old…I don’t expect this skirt to last forever (or even a month).

for my two favorite 4-year old nieces I made no-sew tutus for 4th of July. For a little flash, I later glued on shiny stars

For my two favorite 4-year old nieces I made no-sew tutus for 4th of July. For a little flash, I later glued on shiny stars

 

PART TWO – Making a tutu with a sewing machine!

  1. Get yourself invited over a friend’s home who knows how to sew.  Because I hang out with some really ultra-creative people, I was able to go to a woman’s apartment who is a professional costume designer (check out her Facebook page facebook.com/costumegasm and NSFW).  She had maybe 5 or six sewing machines! and those dress dummies, and a room full of fabrics and trimmings and whatnots!
  2. Take full advantage of learning from the master.  Use the professional cutting board with a grid. Run the amazingly fast sewing machine with 4 spools of thread that makes a very fancy seam that you can’t even remember the name.  Try her trick of placing dental floss on the tulle and sewing it somehow so that later you can pull the floss and scrunch the tulle together.  Mess up on the seams anyway.  Almost cut the fabric entirely wrong.  Somehow get it all together but have the tulle still slip so the colors don’t line up right.
  3. Be incredibly proud of your first sewn tutu.  Make your buddy wear it to a festival.  Be really happy he thinks the mistakes are actually your creative way of showing off the bright colors.
    fabulous colors to for my first sewing project. Grammy would be proud.

    fabulous colors to for my first sewing project.

    it's a slippery slope cutting straight lines of brightly colored tulle for tutus! Yay for the professional cutting board & grid

    it’s a slippery slope cutting straight lines of brightly colored tulle for tutus! Yay for the professional cutting board & grid

    This is the Porsche of sewing machines - goes from 0 to 60 in less than a second...I can't believe she let me drive it without even a learner's permit!

    This is the Porsche of sewing machines – goes from 0 to 60 in less than a second…I can’t believe she let me drive it without even a learner’s permit!

    tri-colored tutu, with crazy seams and a purple stripe. Grammy would be proud

    The finished product!! Tri-colored tutu, with crazy seams and a purple stripe. Grammy would be proud!

 

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