The No-Measure, No-Sew, No-Sweat Tutu

No-measure, no-sew EASY tutu tutorial (tututorial!!) by Beautiful Entropy

I’ve been obsessed with Pinterest all week (it’s kept me sane while I’ve held the couch down post-surgery), and it’s had me DYING to do some crafts. Today I saw my orthopedic surgeon, who gave me the go-ahead to use my arm a little bit (and he was careful to qualify that statement so thoroughly that he nearly retracted it entirely). I decided to make a tutu for W, who has been so sweet and understanding of me during my convalescence that I wanted to give her a present. However, I didn’t want to:

  1. Drag my sewing machine out of its current hibernating place, to which it retreats when I have guests staying in the guestroom.
  2. Measure anything (hey, feeling crafty doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not feeling lazy).
  3. Make anything I could possibly screw up.

There were a few “no-sew” tutu tutorials I found online, but most of them were *mostly* no-sew (which is to say, I would have had to sew the waistband. Didn’t want to.) In the end, I drew inspiration from these tutorials, but went it alone where it came to the waistband. I also took some chances that worked out well in terms of doing the whole thing without the assistance of a tape measure. The other cool thing about the way I made the tutu is that it has about 3″ of potential for letting-out in the waist, which means it will fit for a longer period of time. I’m so happy with the way the tutu turned out that I wanted to share the project. I figure if I can make this thing with one-and-a-half arms while I’m hopped up on pain pills, anyone working with a full deck and two hands should be able to whip it out in no time!

No-Measure, No-Sew, No-Sweat, ADJUSTABLE Tutu Directions:

(BTW, if you’re a fan of no-measure DIY, I have a new tutorial for a gorgeous, easy mermaid costume. It’s not no-sew, but it requires only very basic (like, a few straight lines) skills.

I went to Joann Fabric and bought some tulle. It was about $1.99/yd (I think the sparkly stuff was a buck or so more per yard). I got a yard each of three different shades of blue, one of which has some sparkles in it. If you don’t know what tulle is, it’s typically with the “special occasion” fabric, and it has the appearance of a fine net. If you’re still not sure, take your husband with you to Joanne with you (I know, I know…). You’ll know you’ve found the right stuff when he points to some fabric and says, “Wow! They sell mosquito netting here!?”

I probably shouldn’t have photographed the blue tulle against sage green sheets; the colors are way off.

Next, I eyeballed my kid. From the top of her waist to her knees is about the distance from the tip of my pinkie to the tip of my thumb with my fingers spread (which happens to be 8″, but that’s unimportant). I figured I wanted the tutu to come more or less to her knees, so I decided to cut strips of fabric that were just a bit longer than twice the distance from my pinkie to my thumb (no measure, get it?). It turned out that by folding a yard of fabric in thirds, I got strips that were 18″ long by about 60″ wide (again, I didn’t measure, but I am providing the measurements here so you’ll know what I was working with). I then cut strips that were “about the right width,” meaning (to me, given my mood at the time) about 5-6″. Again, I didn’t measure. Actually, what I did (to get semi-even strips without measuring) was take my 18″ x 60″ strips and cut them in half to 18″ x 30″. I then cut those in half to 18″ x 15″, and I cut each of those into (more or less) thirds, at 18″ x 5″. Close enough. To measure “half,” I folded the tulle in half and cut along the fold. To measure “thirds,” I just eyeballed it. Tulle is super-forgiving.

The other thing I love about tulle? You can just sort of put an open pair of scissors along a fold and push forward, and the tulle basically cuts itself.

When I was done with all this cutting of strips, I had three piles of 18 strips a piece, each strip measuring about 18″ by 5″.

Next, I made a waistband out of some elastic. I used a pair of W’s PJ pants to eyeball the size of the tutu waist. Because the PJ pants were about as wide across (laying flat) as my hand, fingers outstretched, from pinkie to thumb, I measured approximately that much elastic (again, that’s 16″ for those of you who are keeping track). I then added about 3″ for overlap and room to grow. I secured the waistband with two safety pins, one near each cut end. The only important thing here is that the safety pins should not be longer than the elastic is wide (or if they are, you would need to put them in on the diagonal so that they don’t stick out). The cool thing about this is that with the pinned waist and overlapping elastic, there are almost 3″ worth of waist I can let out as she grows. I don’t have to take the whole tutu apart to do this; I can just sort of scoot the nearby tulle to the side. You’ll see what I mean.

You could use 3/4″ or 1″. Anything too much narrower would probably roll, and anything too much wider would be…really wide. This stuff is a couple bucks for several yards at Joanne.

My safety-pinned waistband.

I then started attaching the tulle strips. Because this is a no-sew tutu, I just sort of looped the strips through the waistband and pulled them snug. It seemed to work best (and created a nice look to the tutu) for the loop to point down and forward.

Fold the tulle strip in half, and insert it into the waistband with the fold (half-way point) pointed downward.

Push the tails of the tulle through the loop, and tighten.

I added all 54 strips of tulle this way in an alternating color pattern. I got lucky; 54 strips at about 5″ wide each made a perfect, full tutu with a 16″ waist. If you’re keeping track, then, you should probably count on about a yard of 60″ tulle per 16″ of waist, or about 10 5″ strips per 3″ of waist. For reference, my (slightly undersized) kid is 15 months old…but you can do the math. Or, better yet, don’t do the math, and just keep cutting and adding strips until it looks right. I would advise 1.5 yards of tulle for an average 2-year-old (remember, my kid is teeny), and closer to 2 yards for a preschooler. Of course, you’ll need to err on the side of increased yardage if your tulle is narrower than 60″.

Here’s my finished tutu. All told, it took me about an hour.

After I finished it, I decided to add some ribbons (using the same technique I used for the tulle) every few inches:

One trick with the ribbons; they’re sleeker in texture than the tulle, and they don’t “grab” as well, which means the loop trick for attaching them doesn’t hold them as firmly. I scooted the two adjacent tulle pieces to the side when I attached each ribbon, and then scooted the tulle back in place so it almost covered the ribbon attachment point. This helps hold the ribbon in place.

Another idea I had (but didn’t do, because I wasn’t this motivated): you could use some of the tulle to make streamers, which you could attach to a dowel (along with the ribbon) to make a matching wand. CUTE!

Anyway, can’t wait to surprise W when she wakes up.

What do you think of my TRULY no-sew tutu?

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25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. veritasliberat
    May 23, 2012 @ 20:07:12

    That,s really cool. My five year old could help make one for herself.

    Reply

  2. Cal
    May 24, 2012 @ 09:50:42

    Nice one. Glad your shoulder is on the mend. I had seen some similar no sew tutus around, and like the idea, but have not tried it. Your story about the tule/mosquito net resounds here too. I once bought some tule to make a home made mosquito shield for my husband’s face. It worked! He hates going into the fabric store too.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      May 24, 2012 @ 21:12:25

      Yeah, I’ve seen several similar ones online. Most that are no-sew have a ribbon waist (you tie them on). I like the elastic waist a little better, especially for a toddler.

      Reply

  3. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    May 24, 2012 @ 13:42:28

    Looks awesome. I would love to have seen W’s face when she got the tutu! (Hope you’re recovering quickly!)

    Reply

  4. Stephanie
    May 24, 2012 @ 20:26:48

    Thanks! The tutu is so cute and easy enough that my three year old can help. I know what we’ll be doing the next rainy day that comes our way.

    Reply

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  6. Nancy
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 15:56:47

    Thanks for the help on making a tutu. I do not own a sewn machine and wanted to make my daughter a fun tutu for her Mardi Gras birthday party this February. This one sounds so easy I am heading to JoAnn’s tonight to get the tulle and elastic to start my project.

    Reply

  7. Kim
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 21:40:17

    Made a purple version tonight for my 5 week old to take pictures in this weekend 🙂 It turned out great! It was my first time working with tulle…I didn’t expect it to be so tricky 🙂 Hoping to make a pink one for my 2 year old 🙂

    Reply

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  11. CookieMom
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 17:16:25

    I want to make a tutu for myself. Thank you so much for the step-by-step for measure-impaired tutu-lovers! Hope your arm is much better by now.

    Reply

    • Kirstin
      Mar 27, 2013 @ 07:58:22

      Good luck with the tutu! I’d love to see a picture when you finish it! One more tip: the tutu directions I gave make a relatively low-profile skirt that works well for toddlers and little kids. For an adult, if you want something that sticks out a little more, pack the tulle strips in with greater density!

      Reply

  12. Nancy Snyder
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 21:27:03

    Thank you so much for these instructions! I’m looking forward to trying these out for myself – a costume for an 80s style roller skating party with my new job!

    Reply

  13. Ashley Nicole
    May 10, 2013 @ 17:23:43

    I have found that using a crocheted headband works great for younger girls and babies! I know it fits really well newborn to 12 months probably even longer depending on the child. My daughter has used the exact same tutu for pics every 3 months since birth she is 9 months now and will be using it again at her 1 year pics 🙂

    Reply

  14. Danielle
    Aug 03, 2013 @ 11:42:30

    Hi there. My daughter is turning one and I saw this and wanted to make the tutu for her birthday. Do u mind if I post on my blog and reference your link? I can tell you when I do it. Thank you

    Reply

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  16. Laney giles
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 17:20:25

    Sew cute Tutu!Can’t wait to try it out!

    Reply

  17. denishea Williams
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 13:16:35

    This is amazing. Will try today.

    Reply

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