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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three Tier Tutu Tutorial (say that three times fast...)

There are many-a great no-sew tutorials out there.  However, when I got it into my head to make my little Scout a three tier tutu, there was very, very little to be found.  So, here is a tutorial I put together for all those out there like me who like to see their little Princess all but swimming in tulle.

Initially, I started making this with the idea it would have an elastic waste.  Once I was knee deep in tulle, however, I decided to make it an apron tie waste so that my daughter could continue to wear it for a few years (and so that I can wear it when no one is looking).  

The upside to this project is that tulle is relatively inexpensive.  It cost me about $1 per yard.  The downside, of course, is that working with tulle is almost as difficult as getting your daughter to take a cute picture in the tutu after it's finished.  However, with a bit of patience and a bit more time, you can do it!

I'll refer to the colors green, red, and pink for the purpose of this tutorial, but you can use any three colors you prefer, obviously. 

Let's do this thing:
Supplies Needed
Green Tulle - 4 yards
Red Tulle - 3 yards 
Pink Tulle - 2 yards
Coordinating Thread
Safety Pins
Coordinating fabric
Coordinating Ribbon
Sewing Machine
Sewing Needle
Cutting board, Ruler, and Rotery Cutter (these things would technically be optional, but I imagine it would be very difficult without them)

First, you've got to get your measurements.  The measurements you'll need for this are the waist measurement and the length you want each tier to be.  My 18 month old daughter, for example, has a 19 3/4 waist (I round up to 20).  I decided I wanted the tiers to be 7, 9, and 11 inches long.  It's as simple as that!

Cut each layer of tulle.  The width will be same length as the desired finished length (in my case, 7, 9, and 11 inches).  The length will be 2 - 2.5 times the waist measurement (the longer you make it, the more rufflely it will be).   Cut between 4 - 8 pieces for each layer.  Per my example, I cut several pink pieces 7 x 50 inches.  Then I cut the red pieces 9 x 50 inches and the green 11 x 50 inches. 

Set your stitch length to the longest possible length (mine is a 4) and sew a straight line 1/2 inch away from the edge of EACH piece of tulle.  Don't worry - this goes pretty quickly.

Tip: You can sew two pieces (of the same color) together if you like to save time.  Just be careful that the edges are aligned.  To do this, simply line up the very ends, sew about 6 inches, realign the edges, sew 6 more inches, and repeat til the end.

After sewing the edges of each piece of tulle, gather each piece.  To do this, pull very gently on the bottom thread of each line sewn.  Pull a little on each side, then push the ruffles along the thread so that they are even all the way across.  Adjust the ruffles so that the length of the tulle is 3 inches shorter than the waist measurement (for my example, I stretched each piece to 17 inches).

Tip: Now is a good time to lay each layer of tulle to see how the colors look.  If one color doesn't "pop" as much as the others, add more pieces of that color.  For my daughter's skirt, I noticed that the green needed more pieces that the red and pink in order to stand out. 

Ohhhhh....ahhhhh....pretty tulle.....

Now take each color layer and safety pin the pieces together.  Start on the edges, making sure each piece is aligned.  Next, pin the middle, then pin in between the middle and edges.  Use at least 5 pins.

Now pin all three layers together using the same order as above.  Be sure that all the edges stay relatively aligned and that the middle pieces don't drop.

Tip:  Use smaller safety pins for pinning the individual layers and larger safety pins for pinning all three layers together.

With a sewing needle and coordinating thread, sew the three layers together by hand.  This does not have to be perfect.  Just make a stitch every 1/2 inch or so, enough to secure the three pieces together.  The picture above is what it should look like after the layers are sewn and the pins are removed.

Tip:  Use the original straight stitch line as a guide.
Time to make the band!  Cut a piece of coordinating fabric 5 1/4 inches x 1/2 inch shorter than the waist measurement.  My piece was 5 1/4 inches by 19.5 inches (for a 20 inch waist).

Fold over each edge of the fabric 1/4 inch and press then sew.

Break out your iron.  Fold the fabric in half an press.

Open up the fabric.  Fold the edge of each side in 1/4 inch and press (for a picture of this, see 3 pictures down).

Now fold the edges just below the crease in the middle and press again.

Now fold the entire piece in half again and press yet again.  This is the same method you would use when making bias tape.

Next, pin the edge of the fabric to the back of the tutu (green side).  The right side of the fabric should be touching the tulle.  Pin so that the edges of the tulle are even with the edge of the fabric on the top.  There should be about 1 inch of fabric left over on each side of the tulle skirt.

Using your sewing machine, sew just above the first crease in the fabric.  This should be about an inch from the edge.

Now, flip the fabric over and fold the last quarter under so that it looks like the picture above.  There should be no raw edges showing.  Pin in place and sew, being sure to remove the pins as you go.

Cut two pieces of ribbon about 25 inches long.

Stick one end of the ribbon inside the end of the fabric band.  Repeat on the other side

Tip: Use a lighter to slightly burn the outter raw edges of the ribbon to make sure it doesn't fray.

And...voila!   An adorable Christmas Princess Three Tier Tutu!!!

If you take a stab at this tutorial, be sure to let me know!  I'd love to see pictures of your three tier tutu!



  1. She looks adorable! What a great mama you are. I would have loved to wear this as a child :) xo

  2. This is awesome! I am just getting ready to make my little princess her first tutu, but its good to know, I can do more than one tier! Thanks!

  3. So cool, Holly! You should make her twin brother a little tie onesie to match!

  4. I am making tutu's (4) for a friend party. I need two 2T, one 4T and one 5. I determined my length, just used the standard size chart that is on line for waist sizes, as I do not have access to the little girls. My first try I did all 4 colors the same length NOT. I have (of course flying by the seat of my pants) driven myself crazy (crazier than I already am) trying to figure out how to put the layers together. This will make my day tomorrow/today so much easier. The one thing I did differently was made a casing out of the tulle and used a button on the elastic and a ribbon, so the mom has choices and they can grow with the girls for a while. Not expensive and they don't take a ton of time once someone connects the dots...but the more use they can get out of them the better. I have made coordinating headbands and trimmed anklets in the tool colors. Those two things were the EZ PZ items. You know how occasionally you make a task much more difficult that it needs to be...I can't tell you how grateful I am to you for posting this tutorial. I will try to get pictures for you. However, that is not always possible when none of the kids belong to you.


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