First, get your princess’s waist measurement. My daughter is two, and her waist is just shy of 20”. When I make her a tutu, I start with a 16 1/2” piece of elastic. That may sound small, but once you start tying on the tulle, the elastic is going to stretch out—a lot! Take the elastic, overlap the ends about 1/2”-1”, and sew them together. You can do this by hand or with a machine. I used to do them by hand, but now it is just more efficient for me to sew them on a machine. I also like to “double sew” (I don’t even know that that is a real term!) the ends, so that the elastic stays nice and flat. What I mean by “double sew” is I sew one edge down, and then I slide the elastic over and sew the other edge down. Clear as mud? Hopefully you get the picture. Literally, look at the picture:
Set your elastic aside, and get ready to cut your tulle. Depending on the size and length of the tutu, you will use anywhere from 25-75 yards of tulle. (I recently saw a company that boasts their toddler tutus have over 100 yards of tulle. I thought that was insane, because I use just over 100 yards of tulle on my adult tutus, and thought there was NO WAY a toddler tutu could have 100 yards of tulle! Then I realized that they were talking about 100 yards of THREE inch spools of tulle. That made more sense. I typically use at least 50 yards of six inch tulle on my toddler tutus, which is the equivalent of 100 yards of three inch tulle. Phew. I was about to panic!)
Ten inches is the standard length that I use when making a tutu. However, depending on the age and size, I do make different lengths. (You can see the different sizes under the “Order” tab if you are interested!) For this tutu-orial (get it? tutu tutorial all together—cute right? no?) I am going to say we’re making a 10” length tutu. So roll out 20” of tulle and cut. Roll out 20 more inches, and cut again. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat about a billion times. Okay. I exaggerate. The number of pieces you will need to cut depends on how you want your finished product to look. If you want a very simple play tutu, you could get away with about 30 pieces. If you want your tutu to be a little bit more full, you probably want to start with 60 pieces. If you want a tutu like you see in my photos, you will want to start with 75-100 pieces. So, start cutting! And don’t worry about keeping the cut pieces all nice and flat. Just smoosh them in a pile and they will be fine.
I am just noticing that it is a bit hard to see the orange tulle that I am cutting in this picture. Trust me, I am actually cutting something!
Once you are done cutting, you are ready to start tying. Take your elastic and stretch it around your book. (I use different books for each different width of tutu that I make. If I used the same book for every different width, they would all end up being about the same width in the end. So, find a book that has a circumference larger than your elastic, but still smaller than your princess’s waist measurement—you don’t want to stretch the elastic so far that it looses it’s stretchiness!) Take a piece of tulle, and find the middle. Slide the top of the tulle under the elastic, and make a slip not around the elastic. Repeat and repeat and repeat. For play tutus, tie the knot loosely. For more full tutus, tie a tighter knot.
find the middle
slide the tulle under the elastic
start your slip knot
pull the ends through
pull the ends down (this is a loose knot)
this is what the loose knots for a play tutu should look like
this is a tight knot
these are what your knots should look like for a fluffier tutu
After you have completely covered all of elastic with tulle, give the tutu a nice stretch. There will be about an inch or two of elastic that comes out of the tulle like this:
Fill in the gap from the elastic stretch, and you will have a single layer tutu that looks like this:
Now, many people would stop there, and that is where I used to stop as well. However, since I have now made hundreds—literally hundreds!—of tutus, I have improved a bit and I have learned how to make my tutus even poofier! So, if you want to keep going, here’s what you need to do: Continue tying more pieces of tulle onto the tutu with slip knots, but instead of pulling them so tight that they touch the elastic, make sure that they only cover the tulle from the first layer of your tutu. Do this all the way around the tutu, forming a second layer. You will be amazed at how much fluffier your tutu gets!
Finally, I like to add a ribbon to my tutus. In order to keep the ribbon from fraying, I very quickly burn the edges of the ribbon with a lighter. It only takes a second to form a seam, so be quick or you will melt your ribbon!