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How to: DIY Toddler Ballet Tutu

Beth Kassay

Hello Kitty Tutu (11)  Pretty Pink Princess Tutu (8) (400x269)  Doc McStuffins Tutu (3)

Lily & Frog Supplies:

  • 2 yards of tulle (color of your choice)
  • 2 yards of tulle (if you would like more than 4 layers or more than one color)
  • Thread (color of your choice)
  • At least 2 yards of Ribbon (used to decorate tutu hem. Color/type of your choice)
  • Elastic (long enough for waist of child)
  • Pins
  • Ruler

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (3)

Lily & Frog Instructions:

Grab your tulle (ONE of the colors).  Open the tulle, laying it flat.  Fold the tulle in half as pictured (if you have a 'Nice Side' to the tulle, the 'Nice Sides' will be touching), the 2 Cut Edges (the Cut Edge is where the fabric store cut the tulle) will be touching.  The Manufacturer's Edge will be 1 yard in length because you have folded the 2 yards in half.

Sew along the Cut Edge.  This is creating the side seam of the tutu...  yes, you can pin this edge together if you would like, it will help stabilize the tulle.  I prefer not to because pinning tulle can be a tedious and timely process, I just pay close attention to my lines.

Lay the sewn tulle flat again, fold it in half again along the short side.

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (4)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (5)

Once folded the second time, flip the tulle right side out (once the tutu is flipped, the 'Nice Side of the tulle will be on the outside).  Place your hands into the top opening of the tulle, pinch the fold in the corners and flip the tulle right side out.

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The tulle will now lay as pictured:

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (12)

For a fuller Tutu, repeat the fold and flip one more time (I always fold and flip two times for a full and fluffy tutu):

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (11)

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (15)

After flipping the tulle 2 times, the Flipped Edge is the waist of the tutu and the manufactured Edge is the bottom seam of the tutu.  Along the waist you will need to create an opening to pass the elastic through for the waist.  In the current state, you can not sew the opening for the elastic because the top layer of the Flipped Tulle does not fold nicely with the interior layer of flipped tulle...  If you look closely at the image to the right, the interior fold is along the edge of the ruler.  Sewing now, would create an uneven opening to pass the elastic through, this needs to be line up straight and lay flat.

Gently press the ruler against the interior layer of tulle, creating an even waist with the two folded layers of tulle.  Pin together the layers of tulle all the way around the waist.

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (16)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (17)DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (20)

If you only have one color of tulle, skip this step.  Move onto the sewing part...

If you have a second color of tulle, repeat the above steps with the second color

You should now have 2 identical colors of tulle which will be 2 layers of color in your tutu.  Layer each tutu on top of each other, pinning together along the fold of the waist.

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (22)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (21)DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (23)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (24)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (25)

All colors of tulle are pinned together along the waist and you can sew the opening to pass the elastic through.

Following the picture from the left...

Stitch #1 is about 1/8 inch in from the fold of the entire waist, following the fold
in the waist band and beginning and ending with a back stitch (If you move the tulle in to 1/4 inch you will create a slight ruffle along the waist when the elastic is passed through).

Stitch #2 starting location varies based on the width of your elastic.  I have a 1 inch wide elastic and I will start the straight stitch 1 1/8 inch in from Stitch #1, beginning and ending with a back stitch, leaving a 2 inch opening for the elastic to pass through.

Stitch #1 and Stitch #2 should appear as below...

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (27)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (28)

Currently, the bottom edge of your tutu will look a little ragged and uneven, now is when you will cut the length of your tutu.  I grabbed one of Lily's skirts to estimate a length...  the longer the length of the skirt the more it will droop down, the shorter the skirt the more it will fluff and stick out.  For a fluffy fit I cut about 12 inches from Stitch #2.

To help cut time in half, I use a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and a 12 1/2 inch cutting square.  Fold the tutu in half at the waist multiple times, laying the tutu flat.  Line the fold of the waist straight along a line on the cutting mat.  Using either Stitch #1 or #2 as your straight line, measure the desired length for your tutu with the cutting square, cutting any excess tulle from the bottom edge.  You may end up with a few ragged spots, just snip them with some scissors.

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (30)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (31)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (32)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (33)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (34)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (35)

Once cut, unfold the tutu.  At this point, if you would like to add ribbon to the bottom edge, go for it...  Normally I buy a 3 yard packet of Offray Brand Ribbon, using remaining ribbon for bows.  A few tricks I use when sewing ribbon...

  • Line up the ribbon with the bottom edge of the tutu overlapping, this will make sewing place easier.
  • Make sure the ribbon laying in the right direction.  If there are words or pictures on the ribbon, be sure you can read it.
  • To prevent the edges of the ribbon from fraying, heat seal the two ends together. Begin sewing about 2 inches in from the end of the ribbon (leave it hanging for now), stitch all the way around the edge, stop sewing about 3-4 inches from the start (DO NOT take the tutu out of the sewing machine).  Line the ribbon up with the 2 inches from the start, snip off the excess, heat seal the ends together, and continue sewing the ribbon into place.

In my case, I have found it is much easier to cut the length and sew the ribbon onto the bottom edge before creating the waist with the elastic...  there is far less measuring, folding, and ruffling of tulle and ribbon.

Almost finished...

You will need the elastic, safety pin and cloths pin to finish the waist band...  cut the elastic length based on your child's size.  Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and a cloths pin to the other (the cloths pin helps stop the elastic from pulling through the waist band).

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (36)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (37)

String the elastic with the safety pin through the opening of the waist band.  Push the elastic all the way through the waist band until it comes out the other end.

DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (38)  DIY Ballerina Toddler Tutu (39)

Pull the safety pin end through the opening, overlap the ends, stitching the ends, I normally do a forward and back stitch several times in 2 spots where they overlap.  Sew the opening closed in the tutu closed.


Hello Kitty Tutu (11)  Pretty Pink Princess Tutu (8) (400x269)

Visit our delightful and darling shop to browse all of our Keepsake Blankets, Birthday T-Shirts, Tutus, Custom Made T-Shirts and MORE at www.lilyandfrog.com.  Click on the images below to browse every design we have created over the years.  You may also e-mail Lily & Frog directly at info@lilyandfrog.com and follow our blog. xo, B

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