Monday, 11 March 2013

Tutu Tricky!

It sat in a box for 4 months. All cut out and waiting to be sewn. Why did it take so long? This sewist is a master procrastinator, as has been said before.
This is my first attempt at a tutu, which is another reason it waited so long to be put together.
I was quite excited at the prospect of making a tutu when DD's teacher decided she was ready for a classical solo, but all those layers of net are more than a little bit daunting.
I decided to use Claudia Folts' patterns for the panty and bodice from They come with no instructions. Everything you need to know about making a tutu the way is in the book "Classical Tutus for Children" written by Claudia Folts herself.
I read the book cover to cover twice at least before cutting out, then referred to it often during construction, and mostly followed her advice.

The panty is made from a double layer of nylon Lycra (foil printed, from stash). I sewed the gethered net on using topstitching thread and needle to give it extra strength. On this tutu there are 7 layers of net, which I gathered using a method I read about on a Pattern Review thread. Rather than use the tram-tracks gathering method, which I susupected would be tedious and painful on my fingers, I sewed a zigzag over dental floss, and the net gathered really easily along the floss, and after the net was sewn on, I pulled the floss out. This worked really well. I don't have a ruffler or gathering foot, so I was seeking a manual method which was fast and effective.
By the time I had sewn on all that net, I was rather impatient to finish, so attempted to quickly sew on a basque to the waist with elastic so she could take it to her lesson today and practise in it. This was a disaster! What's that saying? "More haste, less speed." The basque was incredibly difficult to attach with all that net getting in the way. And it's way too baggy as I had more than a little trouble sewing up the centre back seam. I sewed the net on with the panty flat and open at the centre back, as per the instructions. I thought I'd left enough space to close the back, but hadn't counter on the bulk getting in the way of the sewing machine foot. I'm also not sure if doing it "in the round" would have been any easier. I'll have to carefully consider that for the next one.

The bodice was run together very quickly as I was more concerned about learning the skirt technique. I didn't join the bodice to the basques as this one's really just a test run, and she can take the tutu skirt to her lessons now and just pull it on.

The verdict from her teacher? The top ruffle needs to be wider - it needs to meet her fingers, so maybe another 3 inches or so. No butt ruffles required - Yay! Her teacher also told me how to attach the plate for a nice clean finish.

So my thoughts for the next tutu are:
1. Make the top layer wider and alter the lower layers accodringly.
2. See if 5 or 6 layers will do the trick
3. Try to make it in the round, as finishing off the legs was very difficult with all that net and I did a pretty bad job.
4. Use a different pattern for the panty. This pattern was too big for DD (I expected it to be only slightly bigger for some growing room). I'm going to make a double layer panty from a leotard pattern that fits her.
5. No butt ruffles.
6. Add a plate
7. Join the bodice to the basque.
8. Do a good job!!!!


  1. good job! im currently working on my own! that panty pattern is sooooo huge! i took it in a good 3 in. and could do more.

    really? it needs to be wider? i think it would overwhelm her tiny body if you go bigger!

    jalie makes some lovely and super easy to sew leotard patterns, and ive made the one with the tutu (only 4 layers) and its super easy and looks great! and it is the size you think you are making :) and if its not, there are 22 sizes there to pick and modify from :)

    thanks for the review!

  2. Thanks for visiting, Kelly! I like the proportions as they are, too, but here in Australia the "look" is a skirt that just reaches the fingertips when they're in that pose. I have just finished my 2nd toile. I used a KwikSew pattern for the panty (which fits her beautifully), and morphed the bodice into it. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I attached the top skirt too low, so didn't get enough layers on to support the wider top. I went from the top down this time, and in the round. :( I am aware of the Jalie pattern. I have used Jalies for other things and they are great. But now, I don't really need a pattern, just practise and technique! I'm going to try the real thing next, so fingers crossed.....

  3. Yes I had same issue sue with the panty. I put darts into it and needed to add a bit to the top to make a better line for a rehearsal tutu. I opted for the book not for children. I wonder if there are many differences.