Today’s mini makeover is a little different to the others that I’ve done before because today I’m sharing how I made my own tutu based on a pattern that I found via Pinterest. I have a party coming up very soon and it has a tricky theme (for my curvy self): Downtown Abbey/ Modern twist on the 1920s – and because I really have nothing at all that would suit that era, I decided that I would focus on the “modern twist” part. ;)
For my outfit, I decided on: a classy (knee length) tutu, a loose flowing sweater (jumper), my glitter flats and a twenties hair do with a glittery headband and some big jewellery.The party isn’t until later in the month, so I will have to get some photos taken and add them to this post later on. Hopefully it turns out ok.
What you’ll need:
- Pattern from here – I like my instructions more detailed so I got a bit lost with how simple these were, but the pattern is good
- Sewing Machine – I just used my base model Janome and it was fine
- Cream Tulle – I bought 8 metres at Spotlight and used a bit over 6.5 metres – the pattern recommended 7- 13 yards but I bought 8 metres (thinking 7 metres plus a little extra for mistakes)
- Lining fabric(s) – I used a white cotton layer but it was transparent so I also made a calico layer underneath. I recommend using a non sheer/ thicker fabric for this
- Elastic – I used 8mm/ 1/4in elastic for this as I already had it at home. You’ll need enough so that it goes around your waist
- White Thread – for the sewing machine
- Scissors – Very sharp fabric ones are best for this
- Fading Fabric Marker – These allow the marker to fade using water, but it also fades over time
- Sewing pins – Lots of them
- Rulers – I had a 24in/60cm one and a 30cm (12 in) one
- Starting by following the pattern (found here) I went to cut out my first layer of tulle. The instructions don’t say how long your skirt should be to get the same look as hers so I just guessed and chose the full length of my long ruler (25in/63.5 cm). This length has to also include the bit you cut out for your hips (in step 2). I thought it would be easier to cut a quarter of a circle instead of a half like her pattern suggested so I found the middle point of where my skirt would be and folded it in half. That meant that I was cutting 4 layers of tulle at once. I then pinned the tulle so that it wouldn’t move whilst cutting. Measuring from that middle point (the right hand corner in picture 1) I marked out the semi circle moving the ruler slowly from right bottom corner to top left and marking at even points. Then I cut along the semi circle that I had marked.
- Next it was time for the cut out measurement where it would go over my hips or waist. This is where I got confused as I couldn’t see how to find the measurement and went to an old tutorial for another of her tutus and I measured my natural waist in inches and multiplied by 3.14. But when I cut a test piece I couldn’t get the tutu on at all so I added 3cm to it (15.5cm for me). I now see she meant hip measurement not natural waist so I made mine a little too big. I then measured that with the shorter ruler as in step 1 and cut out a small tulle circle. Then I removed all the pins.
Repeat 4 more times for 5 layers of tulle.
- Then I repeated steps 1 and 2 with step 1 being 24in/61cm for the two lining pieces. My calico wasn’t big enough to fold into 4 so I cut two halves and sewed them up at the sides with a small seam allowance. Then I hemmed the bottom of each of the lining pieces and sewed the calico piece inside the white piece at the top – just to hold them together – leaving the rough edge showing.
- I stopped following the pattern here because I couldn’t work out how to gather the tulle as she suggested and my unpicker was getting a lot of work. Instead I pinned all 5 layers of tulle together at the top line and sewed a basting stitch to keep them together. I then sewed them to the two lining layers with another basting stitch. Then I folded the raw edge of the top of all 7 layers in towards the inside lining piece (leaving enough room for the elastic to go through and started sewing around the top). I stopped and left 4 gaps of about 1.5 cm/1/2in (approx) so that the elastic could be threaded more easily.
Next I measured the elastic so it sat around my natural waist without being stretched and added a little more just in case and cut it. Then I took two safety pins and pinned one to each end of the elastic. One was then fastened to the point where I first started to thread the elastic through and the other I used to pull and push the elastic. I pulled it right through at each of the gaps gathering the skirt as I went along.
- Once it was all the way back to the start I pinned the elastic together and sewed up the 3 extra gaps. Then I tried it on and pulled the elastic to where I thought it was tight enough and pinned it again. Then I sewed the elastic at the pin point and then sewed the elastic into the skirt closing up that final gap.
- Now the tutu is ready to wear to the party!!
Thoughts on the project:
I got a bit lost with the simple instructions, but I’m happy with how my tutu turned out. It doesn’t really look anything like the one in the original tutorial photos, but that’s ok. The cutting out part was really easy to do and the tulle was a bit fun to work with, for something different. I don’t really enjoy sewing since giving up my sewing business, so it was interesting to see how I went dusting off my old skills. I love that the skirt came out knee length, and it’s quite flowy too. Not sure it’s really 20s, but it’s very modern twist, and very me!
If I was going to do anything differently it would be that a) I read and made sure I understood all the instructions before diving in to this project ;) and b) I would make it so the elastic could be adjusted repeatedly (With the training I’m doing at the moment I seem to be changing shape quite a bit and I’m a bit worried that it might be too loose come party day. Fingers crossed it’s all ok!) I would also add some satin ribbon over the top of the elastic part so the tulle isn’t scratchy at the top.
Are tutus something that you would wear to a fancy dress party? Would you make one?