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Les Sylphides: make a Romantic tutu

Sew a ballet tutu

There are quite a few ballet tutu tutorials out there (say that 6 times, fast), but many of them teach you how to NOT sew a tutu. So this is my small attempt at filling a gap in the Internet.


  • About 6 or 7m white tulle or veiling
  • White cotton for the waistband (or anything really, except stretch)
  • Vilene, or fusing
  • Two large press studs


To make sure you have enough tulle, measure your waist and multiply this number by 3 to account for the gathers. Usually, the standard width of tulle (about 2,5 or 3m) as you buy it in the shops will be enough. Then measure your desired length and times this by 8 for the number of layers we're going to be making.

So for a waist measurement of 82cm x 3 = 246cm (enough to fit into the standard material width), and skirt length of 85cm x 8 = 6,8m tulle needed.

Cut 8 pieces of tulle, 246cm x 85cm, with some seam allowance. About 2 cm either side will be plenty. With right sides facing in, bring the edges of the tulle together, and pin in place.

Stitch the sides together, leaving 30cm from the top edge. This will allow you to step in and out of the tutu, once the waistband is in place.

Once you've sewn all 8 pieces, nest them neatly inside each other, lining up the seams and making sure the top edges sit on top of each other. This is a really tricky beast as tulle can tend to slide quite a bit, and pins don't stay in the fabric easily. Use safety pins to make the process a bit smoother.

When you have all your pieces firmly pinned, run a basting stitch on your longest stitch setting along the top of the skirt, about 1cm away from the top edge. Do not backstitch, or tie off the ends. Repeat, running another basting stitch about 1,5cm underneath the first one. Use a good, strong quality cotton.

Using the free ends of your two basting stitches, gently pull to create the gathers in the skirt. Do this very gently and patiently, as you do not want to break your thread and have to unpick! Keep gathering the skirt until it is the length of the desired waist measurement.

Now for the waistband! Cut a strip of fabric as detailed in the diagram. Remember to leave a bit of seam allowance. This waistband will be sewn onto the right side of the garment, and folded over to the inside to be finished by hand. My measurement allows for a 5 cm waistband (10cm folded in half), so this is where you will make your adjustments, depending on the desired depth of your waistband.

Turn the tutu right side round. Pin the tutu and the waistband together, right sides facing in. Leave about 3cm (plus seam allowance) on one side, and 7cm (plus seam allowance on the other side) of the waistband. This will be for overlap when you close the garment. Make sure that when you sew the tutu and waistband together, you run your stitch just below the lowest basting stitch – you don't want this to show on the finished garment!

To finish the overlap ends, fold the right sides together and stitch. Turn right way round, and fold the waistband in half, over the tutu, to the inside of the garment. Stitch in place by hand, tucking the raw edge away as you go. Sew the press studs on, and there you have it, a beautifully sewn tutu!