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  • Writer's pictureLonda

TuTu Refinements

I LOVE these basic directions for a TuTu as found on my friend, Heather Valentine’s Blog:

These directions are for VERTICAL strips, rather than the commonplace horizontal, gathered rows.

Heather's Tulle TuTu Tutorial

Heather’s Tulle TuTu Tutorial

Adult Tulle TuTu

Adult Tulle TuTu

 Here are my adaptations/changes to the great original directions.

1.  I didn’t have ribbon on hand, so  I used muslin for the waistband, but then I was creating a slip, not a ‘pretty’ tutu to be worn as a skirt.  I did interface the muslin as directed, but wish I had not done so.  If you use the Sport Elastic as I did, my recommendation would be to NOT use interfacing – even on the ribbon. Just my opinion….

2. I bought 4 yards of nylon tulle and cut 4″ wide strips.  I picked up each strip individually, twisted it a few times, folded in half with cut edges as the top, just laid it as directed, scrunching it up to ‘gather’.  I do believe this twisting added to the pour, and obviously, I did NOT cut the fold at the lowermost folded edge.  HOWEVER, ultimately, in the final fitting for the dress this tutu was made for, we DID decide to cut the loops att the bottom.  

3. After getting all the tulle onto the band, I elected to trim the bulk of net from above the stitching.  See the photo below.

4. When finishing the uppermost folded edge down over the gathers, I elected to use a zigzag stitch.  I had to keep making sure that the tulle hadn’t ‘crept’ up into the area of the band – which I actually did catch a few times, but stopped to undo and fix it.

5. The only elastic wide enough to work that I had on hand in my ‘Resource Center’ was Sport Elastic.  Below is a picture of what that elastic looks like.  I have created this technique, based on one I learned from friend Louise Cutting when I took her ‘One Seam Pant Class’ at Eunice Farmer’s YEARS ago, then taught MANY times at my own retail storefront.

  1. To feed this elastic through a casing, you must use a large safety pin, and weave it through a pretty big hunk of the end of the elastic or the elastic will pull all apart.  Then, taking care that the elastic is NOT twisted, I recommend BUTTING the ends together ON TOP OF A SCRAP OF FABRIC (see the grey scrap behind).  Stitch each end straight, then zigzag the heck out of it!!!

Join Elastic on a piece of fabric.

Join Elastic on a piece of fabric.

  1.  Then, as I used to say, “Snap the Turtle” – to get the elastic equally distributed inside the casing.

  2. Next, I determined that to keep this distribution even, it is helpful to stitch VERTICALLY at the center back, center front, and each side.  This REALLY helps keep the fabric distributed on the elastic for the following step.

Stitch Vertical in Quarters.

Stitch Vertical in Quarters.

  1. Next, I stitched about 3/8″ from the uppermost folded edge. Use a LONGER stitch length – I used 4.5 on my Brother.  Use your needle position to precisely locate the stitching, working with the edge of the fabric along a guide on the throat plate.  After that, stitch the same distance from the edge closest to the tulle.  Also, when using this technique on a garment where it will be seen (remember, this is a slip), I always did this stitching with the right side DOWN to the feed dogs as it feeds in easier, and doesn’t get pushed ahead as can happen on the top layer.  Another note:  When doing this, your left hand really needs to be behind the presser foot, grabbing the garment and stretching it against the front where your right hand is.  (My hand is trying to show a taut situation because I needed my right hand with which to take the photograph!).

  2. In the photograph below then, I’m stitching the final row – between the other 2 rows.

I know that there are ‘channels’ in this Sport Elastic.  However, using it for many years, it is NOT necessary to locate the stitching to go within these channels, really!  It still works GREAT.

Stitching through waistband.
  1. The final step is to steam the finished product.  Doing this will shrink the waistband – ALOT.  I had to be very careful with the iron net to the tulle – as the iron hot enough to steam would melt the tulle.  See photo below.  After steaming, LET IT COOL before moving, stretching, etc.

Steam to shrink elastic.

Steam to shrink elastic.

Finished Tutu

Read this blog post to see the Fiddle Dress for which I made this TuTu.

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