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How to Sew a Full Tutu Skirt Tutorial

Celeste sometimes refuses to answer to her name, claiming she’s Angelina Ballerina (and can get quite angry if we don’t call her that). So it’s taken me a ridiculously long time to make our little ballerina her first tutu. It’s one of those projects I don’t know why I put off. They are so easy to sew and look so cute!

How to sew a full tutu skirt in an hour tutorial

There are a million no-sew tutu tutorials around, but I LIKE sewing! I also think a sewn tutu will last longer (and can’t be pulled apart by little fingers as easily!).

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The technique I describe below makes them fast to sew and you can cram a lot of fabric on to make them really full – I think I could have even gone further, but you’ve got to stop somewhere!

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Now that I’ve started, I’m addicted. After making the pink one for Celeste, I made the red and yellow ones (in the first photo) for my two nieces. I’ve also got another tutu craft project to show you soon.

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I find tulle (even the soft wedding tulle) a bit scratchy, so mine are made with crystal organza for the first one (pink), glitter organza for the red and fairy organza for the yellow. The glitter organza one is my favourite – it’s got a little bit more stiffness than the others, which makes it hold it’s shape more.

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Let’s get on with the tutorial for How to Sew a Full Tutu Skirt:

Materials

2m (2.2 yards) Organza (150cm (59”) wide)
50cm (20”) piece of elastic (20-25mm (3/4”–1”) wide)
Matching Thread
Scissors/Rotary Cutter
Sewing Machine
Overlocker/Serger (optional)

Method

1. Cut the organza into 5 strips of 40cm (or 2 x the length you want the tutu), cutting from selvedge to selvedge.

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2. Since organza frays, it’s necessary to hem the cut edges. I did a rolled hem on my serger (with matching or contrasting threads). Alternatively, you could serge the edges, do a rolled hem on a normal sewing machine, or fold and stitch a narrow hem on a sewing machine.

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I also chain-stitched my strips of organza together as I hemmed. I wasn’t sure how sewing the strips of organza together would look, so I did this instead. It hold the pieces together. The tutus are so full, you won’t see the gaps between the strips.

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3. Tie a large knot in one end of your elastic.

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4. Fold the fabric in half over the elastic, leaving the knot poking out the end.

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5. Sew the two layers of fabric together close to (but not through) the elastic. I used my zipper foot to get nice and close and help guide the fabric.

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6. Stop about an inch before the end of the elastic, with your needle down.

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7. With your needle down, reach between the layers of fabric and pull the elastic towards you, gathering the fabric you’ve just sewn behind the sewing machine.

Tutu tutorial collage 1

8. Fold the fabric in half again and continue sewing along the elastic, stopping and pulling the elastic through as you go. When you come to the end of one strip, just chain-stitch the next strip on and keep going!

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Then you’ll be able to see your tutu form right there on your sewing machine!

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9. When you’ve reached the end of your fabric, remeasure and trim your elastic, if necessary (it may have stretched and not fully recovered from all that pulling). Sew the two ends of the elastic together.

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10. Pull the fabric over the joined ends of the elastic. And there you have a gorgeous full tutu, perfect for any little ballerina.

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This took me about an hour to make. I don’t think I could have made a “no sew” tutu as full in the same amount of time. And the three little girls I’ve made them for so far LOVE them!

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If you make a tutu using this tutorial, please let me know. I love seeing your creations!

How to make a Ballerina Tutu Lampshade
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Comments

  1. This is great and looks really easy! But I wonder about the measure you give for the organza strips. You say 5X40cm (I guess it is because you want the tutu to be 20cm long). But 5 means 5cm? Is it a typo and you mean 50cm, or 5m? This part isn’t clear to me…

  2. Erin Kelly McNeil says:

    I think she means 5 strips of 40cm wide organza 2 meters long

  3. Great tutorial, Narelle!! Might have to encourage my Miss 9 to go as a ballerina to a costume day just so I can try to make one!!

  4. This style looks far more inviting than a no sew version where you have to cut all those strips! Idont like the scratchiness of tulle either.
    Definitely want to make one of these for miss 2!

  5. Sumo @ Sumo's Sweet Stuff says:

    So pretty! My girls would die to be prancing around in these! I’ll be featuring these on my blog on Saturday.

    http://www.sumossweetstuff.com

    Thanks for linking up to the Block Party!
    Sumo:)

  6. Stephanie Pass says:

    Great tutorial! I’m definitely using this for my daughter’s Lambie costume from Doc McStuffins. Thanks so much!

  7. Stephanie Pass says:

    Great tutorial! I’m definitely using this for my daughter’s Lambie costume from Doc McStuffins. Thanks so much!

  8. Gina Dingus says:

    I’m sending a copy of your directions to my daughter who doesn’t sew like me but still likes to do a few things if there are good directions and she can call MOM and say ok i got to here so with your directions she can call and say i got to here now how do i do this and I can talk her through it. She learned on pro patterns so she hates the store ones and hates to call and have me draft them for her… I’m the grandma what else would i do for the Grand’s or her she just thinks its putting me out. lol yah right.. But she will love yours that are well done and with clear pics!!!!!!!
    Congrats for a great Tutorial !!!!!

    • Did you try it with tulle yet?

      • I tried it with tulle, it looks really nice I used two colours, I bought 1metre of each colour. Cut each one in 4 strips (1 metre long x I don’t know how much wide, because I just folded the tulle in 1/2 and 1/2). Sewed both strips in the centre, and used that as a guide for the fold/elastic/sew.
        It looked lovely I made two of these for a 5 year old and a 7 year old (unfortunatelly I didn’t make a photo, I was in a BIG hurry to finish them as a birthday presents, after big dissapointment no sew tutus, and didn’t think to make a photo), my only “but/worry” with tulle is that it felt quite harsh with the fold and elastic, I hope it won’t hurt little waists.
        Next time I’ll probably sew a nice thick ribbon or some fabric to cover the elastic to make it softer.

  9. Ali Sorensen says:

    Do you think this would still work with tulle? I just had DH pick some up for me (so, since he braved the fabric area with no complaints, I think I have to use it ;D ) and your technique looks almost exactly like what I was planning to try.

    • Ali Sorensen says:

      I will! Thanks! I asked him to price check tulle at Walmart (he was doing a return) because I thought it was a little pricey at JoAnn’s. He came out with three yards of each color I asked him to check on! :D

    • It should work fine with tulle, and you wouldn’t need to finish off the hem (if you didn’t want to). Let me know how it turns out!

      I’m so impressed you got your DH to go fabric shopping for you!

    • Janifer Keel says:

      Question of I want to make it close to another 5cm longer which is 10 cm double. how much more fabric would I need. I want to make it for a 7 year old.

    • Hi Janifer. I cut 5 strips of fabric from selvedge to selvedge, so for 5cm longer, you’d cut 50cm strips and you’d need 2.5m of fabric. Depending on the waist measurement and how full you want it, you could add an extra strip to make it more full, so use 3m of fabric, but I think either would look good on a 7yo. Let me know if you make one!

  10. PERFECTO!!! Muy buena la explicación y el resultado es excelente. Felicitaciones!

  11. I am sorry dear I don’t speak english very well. But I really liked your site.
    Are you using a ruffler? Because it is so full.

    • Narelle @CookCleanCraft says:

      No, I didn’t use a ruffler. I sewed it with a standard straight stitch and then bunched the fabric up by pulling the elastic. The fullness is just from cramming so much fabric onto the elastic. Please let me know if it doesn’t make sense!

  12. I love UR

  13. I love UR tutorial and im really new @ sewing. But do u. Sew the 5 pieces to the elastic one piece at a time?
    And when u r cramming the fabric to the elastic do u sew the fabric behind the elastic. Pls advice thank you ;)

  14. Cause it seems there is more than 1 layer of organza

  15. Can I use multi colored instead of just one solid color? When I go to gather my elastic is suppose to be still inside the fabric till I need to pull to gather? Sorry for the stupid questions I usually hand sew everything I make a lot of blankets an pillows for my nieces an nephew but am officially going to buy a sewing machine because I kinda am not a fan if the way the no sew tutus look an have been dying to make a tutu for my new baby niece since it found out she was a little girl an even more so when I layed my eyes on her October 24 :) I call her lulu an she shall be my ballerina an wear lots of tutus made by me an I’m also going to make her big sister a matching one. Please give me some advice if you have any an pray that I can pull it off!!

  16. I’m going to a 30th birthday (fancy dress) party this weekend – thank you for this tutorial, it was perfect for making my Black Swan tutu (I used black netting, and adjusted the measurements for a “grown up” size!). Easy to follow instructions, took me about an hour (the hardest part was cutting the material!) and fabulous result, thank you.

  17. That’s super sweet! I’m doing a little Dorothy dress and i think i’ve just found the skirt! Thank you for sharing :)

  18. I’m trying this tonight! Any thoughts on the length of tulle I’ll need for an Adult tutu?

  19. I am new to this TuTu making but would like to learn. I am studying all tutorials to see which is the best way to approach this. I liked what you had to share with us but was confused when you said you “chained-stitched” the strips together. What do you mean by that trim. I saw your picture but it not make sense to me. Please explain. You also say while you are sewing the 1st strip together with the elastic to leave needle down in organza and chain-stitch another strip and proceed as before. I am confused.
    Please help.

    • Narelle @CookCleanCraft says:

      Hi Lindy,
      By chain-stitching, I just mean line up the next piece of organza (or tulle) and just continue sewing – no need to back stitch or cut the threads. This holds the pieces of fabric together and makes it hard to spot that you haven’t sewn all of the strips of fabric together. If you end up with a stitch or two between the pieces, you won’t notice it when it’s all gathered up.

      I put the needle down when I’m pulling the elastic forward (and gathering the organza behind the needle) so that the whole thing doesn’t move while I’m pulling (but I still try to pull gently since I don’t want to tear the organza). As before, when I get to the next strip, I just line it up straight after the last strip and continue sewing. In the picture for step 8, you can see the small gap between the two pieces of organza, but I just kept sewing so the two strips are attached by the thread, but not overlapping.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if it’s still not clear and maybe I can take extra photos to explain it better.

  20. I love it so much, It’s faster and more elegant than other non sewing tutorials, It could be used also for adults skirts

  21. I am lost when you say fold it again. I think I have measured too much fabric I’m not sure because mine looks different. Will you lease clarify step 8? What is being folded again?

    • Narelle @CookCleanCraft says:

      In the previous step, you lifted/unfolded the fabric to pull the elastic through. So step 8 is putting the fabric back down, making sure it’s still folded in half (since organza can be slippery), then continue sewing along the elastic. Hope that makes sense!

  22. very pretty. You used 5 strips are they layered on top of the other or are they sewn on to the elastic as singles? I hope that makes sense. Pls advise as I need to make them soon. Thanks

    • Narelle @CookCleanCraft says:

      I sewed each of the 5 fabric strips one by one, which gives the waviness to the hem-line. (I’ve wanted to do one with layers to see how it looks, but haven’t got around to that yet!)

  23. Wow, that makes so much sense and looks amazing. I’ve been trying to find a reasonably simple sewn tutu and have found mostly no-sew which is fine, I have done a couple of them, but same little fingers like to pick them apart! I really wanted to do one like you’ve done. Thanks for this tutorial, very straight forward, I can’t wait to get started!

  24. Alana Case says:

    Helpful tutorial! I have been making no sew tutus and have recently discovered that tightening the material too much on the elastic really stretches it out and the tutus were completely stretched out and ruin after 2 months. Total dissapointment!!! So now I’m gonna try sewing them, I thought it would be much more difficult, but this tutorial makes it seem so simple! I’m excited to try it out!! Thanks for sharring!!!

  25. This is by far the fastest way to get a great tutu. The sewing makes it sturdier than the tied ones too! Thanks for the simply great idea! (I’ve been sewing for a while, but doing grandchildren things now)

    • Narelle @CookCleanCraft says:

      Thanks Hilda! I’m glad you found it useful and I hope your grandchildren love their tutus!

  26. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not a fan of the no sew! The unfinished edges drive me wild and I just think they look so cheap. THIS is what a tutu should look like. I am a little confused with the instructions because I am a self taught sewer. I think it will make more sense once I dive into it. I think I need a Hobby Lobby trip now! Someone is wanting me to make their daughter a birthday tutu with 4 colors so this will be very experimental! I hope it turns out as well as you did. Just to be clear, the final result is just the strips of organza chain stitched together folded over right? Or is it four layers once you “fold again”?

  27. I am so thankful for this tutorial. I tried it today and it was so much easier than I thought! It turned out so well! I had a problem with stretching the elastic so I am going to work on that. Thank you!

  28. Thank you so much for this tutorial and for taking the time to answer questions :)

    I also have a question :D I made this tutu for a doll but for some reason the hemline doesn’t wave like yours. Instead it kinda curves under and the skirt makes a bell shape instead of splaying out :-s
    I may have misunderstood some steps. When you say selvage to selvage, do you mean the width of your waist? I cut 5 strips the width of the waist by the length of the skirt X2. The only thing I did differently was instead of hemming it I left it and connected the strips with small securing stitches at the end where they meet.
    Please share your insight with me if you can, I’d be so gratefull

    • Also, as an addition, is it necessary to cut strips? Or can you just cut one long piece of fabric? Thank you!

      • Narelle @CookCleanCraft says:

        Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. My five lengths of fabric were the width of the bolt – so 150cm. The elastic for the waist was about 50cm, so with the five strips, I ended up with 15 times the waist. I only used strips because that was as wide as the fabric was, and used the selvedge so I didn’t have to worry about sewing and finishing seams .

        For a doll, I’d use the 15 times waist measurement as a guide, but just see how much fabric I could get on the elastic. I think the reason you’re getting the bell shape is that you haven’t got enough fabric on there. If that doesn’t fix it, send me a photo to cookcleancraft@gmail.com and I can see if work out what’s going wrong.

        I didn’t do any side seams between the strips and because there is so much fabric on there, it’s really difficult to spot where the “gap” is.

  29. Ah one more question! I’m sorry!

    I notice at step 10 you dont mention about sewing the seam of the fabric. When I left it like this, it looked like half a circle :-s
    So I sewed the seam and thats when it turned into a bell shape. I hope this makes sence!

  30. Hi
    I’m about to make one but I was wondering if I sewed the skirt first with an opening as you have shown, for the elastic at the top, could I then pull the elastic through the opening at the top without having to ‘elastic’ as I go?
    Thank you
    Judy

    • Narelle @CookCleanCraft says:

      Hi Judy,
      Yes, you can use that method. I hate trying to thread elastic through a casing like that, especially when it’s 7+ metres of fabric like these tutus. I find it’s much quicker to use my method, but the casing method will work too.
      Good luck with your tutu!
      Narelle

  31. Thanks for this! Really good idea, much nicer than the no-sew ones. I made 4 last night! I got a bit confused so I did as Judy suggested and threaded the elastic after- didn’t take too long. I was making adult sized tutus- in case anyone wants to know the measurements, I used 3m of net (150cm wide) for each. Another metre would have been nice but that was all I had.
    I cut down the fold in the middle of the fabric (so I had 2 strips 3m long and 75cm wide). Then I laid the two pieces on top of each other, folded them in half and sewed 3cm in from the fold to make a tube, and then threaded the elastic through with a big safety pin. I used two colours for some of them- the layers are really nice.

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