Hey there! I am beyond blessed to be the wife of Mark Andrew and the stay-at-home-mommy of Quinn and Morgan! I love to decorate, create things, and generally make life more beautiful! Come join me, and let's see what we can make today!

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How to make a tutu

Today I am going to teach you how I make a tutu.   Here are the supplies that you will need: 

  • 1/2" elastic (I prefer the braided elastic)
  • 6" spools of tulle (found in any craft store, sometimes in the bridal section)
  • 1 yard of double faced satin ribbon (optional)
  • needle and thread
  • large book 

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. (*****For a MUCH faster and WAAAAAAAY more efficient cutting technique, check out my update here!!!!)

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!  


And here is the final product: 

Go make a tutu!  Have fun!!!!!  

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Reader Comments (31)

Great photo tutorial!!! Love it!

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette

love it! I so need to make one for my little pumpkin...thanks!!

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjodi @ back40life

Every girl loves a tutu! I have tutu cutting tutorial that WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Seriously I could have cried one day when I finally thought to wrap the tulle around something and then cut once!

Try it:

October 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrook

This is a super easy way to make a tutu! And it is very pretty...

October 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCrochetNCrafts

Brook--I love it!!! What a great idea!!! Thanks for sharing!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

This is an excellent example on how to make a tutu!!! I'd love to share it sometime and link to you.
I'm always thankful for how you list my blog...it is so sweet of you!!


November 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRene'@bargainhoot

This is too cute! I'm a little too old for this I think, but still adorable!

February 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebra

So cute! Might have to make one for my god-daughter.
p.s. I'm sure Alton Brown would love how you turned his cookbook from a uni-tasker to a multi-tasker. :-)

February 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSophia

Im in highschool and im deffinatly making one of these with my school colors :) No girl is ever to old for a tutu <3

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDestiny

Your tutorial was very clear and easy to follow, thank you for sharing! I made it for my 9 month old, 9 inches long in light pink and blue. She loves it but I've not had a chance to get her in to my studio and photograph her in it, so here's one of it on her bear on a pink backdrop and the bows I made to match.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah B

I liked it a lot, thank you :)

July 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

This is so adorable! I plan on making my daughter a Longhorn version :)

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDianne

thank you so much for this tutorial, I made one for my little sister and it turned out great! So cute but not to hard or too expensive.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpaige

nice i love austin brown...goods eats is amazing

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjessi

I love tutu's and think every little girl looks so precious in them. I found a costume where the little girls were dressed up as thing 1 and thing 2. I am thinking about modifying the costume to an adult version. I wanted to make myself a tutu like they had on. Approximately, how much tulle I will need for an adult tutu and do you have any suggestions? Thanks soooo much!! =)

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMallory

Where do you get your tulle that is good quality and reasonable priced? I've tried several and would like some suggestions...Thanks!

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn

Thanks for sharing on how to do it.Good thins I came across in your site and read you post.I truly appreciates this one.

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkids T shirts


Today I tried making my first tutu with two layers, but it's not looking as fluffy as yours. :(
It's flatter and not really looking like a tutu. May you have any idea what I did wrong or how to improve my tutu?
That would be sooo nice! :)


Best wishes

Michelle (from germany :))

November 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

What an amazing idea that you have. I love how you are making it on a Alton Brown Good Eats book. I love that show. My wife is just getting into making clothing and fashion design so I am sure that she can appreciate this and how easy they look to make. Thank you so much for sharing your creative idea with us all. I will have to go with blue and green though for the seahawks.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermatt

How do you keep them from bunching up while they are wearing them?

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTweety

Wow! I was looking at your pictures before reading the post, and I couldn't figure out what you were doing with a book, but that's a darn good idea to make the materials easy to handle! Great post, and idea. These tutus are so cute even I would wear them...and I'm a grown woman! Thanks for the inspiration!!

i've made at least a dozen of these tutu's. they are so easy. another suggestion is to add lengths of ribbon (contrasting) on the elastic. you can sew a flower or butterfly or some other embellishment to the bottom of the ribbon. for a baby you can use a loose knit head band instead of the elastic. i sometimes make a "harlequin" tutu using all the odds and ends of tulle left over.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterruth

A tutu is a skirt worn as a costume in a ballet performance, often with attached bodice. It might be single layer, hanging down, or multiple layers starched and jutting out.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchildrens clothing

I am wanting a longer tutu for my
Soon to be 7 year old's portraits.
Will it be just as fluffy if made ankle length?
Can I slip knot the tulle unevenly to
Give varying lengths and levels?
Also, do you sew the bow on or tie it
On top of the tulle?

Thank you!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I have a little tip that may make your future tutu's a little easier to make. When cutting the strips of tulle instead of cutting each individual strip just wrap the tulle around a piece of cardboard the length you would like your strips to be, after wrapping the number of times you desire cut one end leaving the other end intact. This is much quicker and will save you alot of time. Your tutu's are beautiful.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPauletta

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