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DIY Tutu: the must-make party skirt!

No prizes for noticing that a certain By Hand member hasn't quite grasped the concept of less is more... it shouldn't come as a surprise then to learn that Elisalex's favourite time of year is right now! The party season presents an excuse like no other to pull out all the stops... top of Elisalex's party priorities list is to get that vintage ball gown dry cleaned, shine up the heirloom diamonds, stock up on lavender hair dye, and, of course, gather layer upon layer of tulle to make the flouffiest, pouffiest fairy princess tutu there ever was. You know you want one too... here's how:

DIY Tutu

You will need:

  • at least 6m of tulle/netting, 55" wide - this will give you 6 layers for your skirt - it's a good idea to check before you buy how sheer this will be, and get more if you need!
  • a sturdy woven fabric for the waistband - we used shantung silk
  • matching thread
  • fabric scissors
  • 2 hand sewing needles
  • a sewing machine (which probably goes without saying...!)

Step 1

Begin by cutting the tulle in 2m lengths. The standard nylon netting comes in 55" widths, folded in half lengthways on the bolt. We found that this folded width was pretty much perfect for a knee-length skirt, meaning that our 6m gave us six layers of 2m each. We used six layers of a plum tulle and added two extra layers of star-print tulle from another skirt Elisalex made a few months back. If you're going for a maxi tutu (oooohhhh a maxi tutu...), you'll need more yardage to make up the layers.

Step 2

Layer by layer, sew up the back seams, leaving 20cm free for the opening. Instead of seaming with right sides together as you would normally, we used an overlapped seam in order to reduce bulk - no pressing of seams open here as the netting would melt! To sew an overlapped seam, simply pin one side over the top of the other and using a wide zigzag stitch, sew down the middle of the overlap.

Step 3

Position the layers one inside the other, matching back seams. Pin along the waistline, securing all layers together.

Step 4

Gather the waistline: thread up your two hand sewing needles and knot the ends together, to each other. As the holes in the netting are bigger than any knot you could make in thread, you need to knot the two lengths of thread together to secure the gathers. Gather the waistband by sewing two rows of running stitch parallel to each other and gently push the fabric towards the knotted end. Secure when your gathers are evenly spaced and equal your waistline measurement. See our gathering tutorial for a more detailed explanation.

Step 5

Make and attach a waistband. We decided to make an extra long waistband that could be tied in a bow in back. This not only compliments the overall concept of a tutu, but nicely hides the 20cm opening. You could of course insert a zipper into the outer layer, but we decided against this as it would have been a bit unsightly. There are enough layers though that the opening is completely unnoticeable. The only thing left to do now is try your tutu on and give the hem a little trim if necessary.

As well as being the must-make party skirt for any self-respecting lady, this tutu would also be an amazing present for a little girl - just make it mini!

Comments on this post (32)

  • Aug 17, 2016

    Before, I used to buy tutus for girls from an online store & loved their tutus of all sorts. Now is time to make my own. Thank for the idea and really loved it.

    — Lea Armbruster

  • Sep 13, 2014

    This is a nice skirt!
    And nice to wear to parties!
    I like it!
    but it’s not a tutu skirt it’s just a regular skirt

    — marisa

  • Jul 30, 2014

    WOW—HOW COOL! Only 5 steps to create a 6-layered tutu in hot pink netting with a silk waistband! CREATIVE & STYLISH skirt ready for P-A-R-T-Y-I -N-G ! thanks for sharing! Sarah Helene in Minneapolis

    — Sarah Helene

  • Mar 22, 2014

    A picture of the back would be fabulous!

    — Joni Epp

  • Aug 24, 2013

    Cool! Show us a pic of your swing dancing outfit please :) The top is simply a standard white shirt (not hand made this time) tied up at the waist to show some skin.

    — byhandlondon

  • Jun 18, 2013

    Iris Apfel once said: “More is more and less is a bore.” I’m all for it! I mean I like clean chic. On others. But for myself I prefer right-in-your-face-fashion ;) And a tutu is on my want-to-sew-list for quite a while. I love your projects!

    — Anne

  • Jun 19, 2013

    Thanks! Yup, we’re big believers in more being quite literally more. And therefore better!

    — byhandlondon

  • Aug 14, 2013

    I cannot wait to make this and wear it swing dancing! is there a tutorial on the top?

    — Little Olive Spoon

  • Apr 05, 2013

    I’m confused about the back. I see that you did an overlock stitch and a cotton waist band but what about it going over your hips? It won’t stretch so what kind of closure do you use?

    — Amanda

  • Apr 30, 2013

    Popped in from Pinterest…At first I thought I’m too old for this skirt but then I saw the one Elisalex made :D and thought this one is totally appropriate for me. Anyhoo, do you have any tips as where to buy patterned tulle? Online shops that ship internationally?

    — Niina

  • May 01, 2013

    Yes!! Tutu’s are always appropriate!! We’ve had a little google around for printed tulle but nothing really stands out except for eBay and Etsy funnily enough. We got ours from one of the fabric shops on Goldhawk rd, London and if all else fails it could be worth calling around to see what they have and if they might post? Sorry not to be much help, and hope you find what you want!!

    — byhandlondon

  • Jan 09, 2013

    Okay, LOVE THIS! I make tutu’s for little girls all the time and bought a ton of tulle (in two different shades!) to make myself one this winter and hadn’t figured out a great way to do the waistband for me. This is perfect! Thanks so much for the "tutu"torial!

    — Kat

  • Jan 09, 2013

    Tulle is good for gals of all ages! Glad you liked the tutorial. If you dare, share it on our Facebook page once you’ve made it!

    — byhandlondon

  • Jan 21, 2013

    I love it, just too adorable. I would make it with a lavender tulle with `ysl` tshirt and a pair of nude court shoes and a cute chanel bag. I would maybe put a layer of lace underneath the top layer of tulle.

    — Gee

  • Jan 21, 2013

    Sounds adorable! Send us a pic!

    — byhandlondon

  • Dec 02, 2012

    I can’t express enough how much I love this skirt! This would be absolutely perfect for the holidays!

    — maddie

  • Dec 03, 2012

    Thank you! We used standard nylon netting tulle – 6 layers of the plum colour then 2 layers of a white netting with star print – most fabric shops have nylon netting in a rainbow of colours and it’s usually mega cheap! You can of course get much better quality tulle, like silk tulle, which is a lot softer and swishier, but comes with a higher price tag…

    — byhandlondon

  • Nov 26, 2012

    Hi girls. I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. I hope you can accept it and pass it on to your favourites. I also hope you can take it as an appreciation from my part.
    Here are the rules:
    P.S: I forgot to include, that the nominee has to come up with 11 new questions… :) And I love this skirt :)
    You all have a nice day!

    — Poppy

  • Nov 28, 2012

    Oh wow thank you so much!!! <3

    — byhandlondon

  • Nov 30, 2012

    This is beautiful and genius and very Carrie Bradshaw-esque. What fabric did you use for the skirt? I know it says use Tulle or the layers, obviously, but it looks like there was a layer of cotton over it in the photographs. Thanks!

    — Jennie

  • Nov 26, 2012

    Thank you!! my niece is in LOVE with having a strapless cocktail dress with a removable maxi tutu skirt for her grad dress. I showed her one a few months back and thanks to your pattern here I can do the skirt!

    — Coral

  • Nov 26, 2012

    I totally am in love with this! Did you make it? I so like am jealous of it.. And it looks so me.

    — Amy

  • Nov 26, 2012

    Thank you! Yes we did make it – you should too! So easy and pretty!

    — byhandlondon

  • Dec 03, 2012

    Our thoughts exactly!

    — byhandlondon

  • Nov 22, 2012

    Thank you! So romantic…just waiting for the prince charming now!x

    — byhandlondon

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