Constructing a tutu - a dance skirt - is a project that may seem daunting at first but is not that difficult.
Here is a method for a child or adult - the difference being the waist
and hip measurements and the length of the layers in the skirt and the
number of layers of skirt.
The photo above shows the classic long tutu from the ballet Pas de Quatre with 4 underlayers and one top layer.
You'll first need to sew a cotton under garment that snuggly fits the
waist to hips such as the old cotton swim suit bottoms. Sew
elastic in the top of leg openings, which should be shaped to the same
shape as the leotard it is worn over.
A short zipper at the back of the tutu is a good way to put on and take
off the tutu. This is what you sew your layers of netting to. And then
the completed tutu is worn over a full leotard.
The skirt of a tutu is usually made from nylon net, though I've made them from organdy or organza.
The width of the net and number of layers will determine the exact yardage needed.
For a tutu to stand out almost straight to the side you'll need 10
layers of skirt in graduated lengths with the shortest at the lowest
hip level, and the longest and fanciest layer on top, supported by all
those shorter layers, just below the waist.
The top of the tutu is joined below the waist so the male dancer can find a solid grip to support the ballerina in partnering.
I use 7 times the hip width measurement for each layer of tutu skirt.
For a child's tutu for a school play, Halloween, or dance performance, 3 or 4 layers makes a nice bouncy tutu.
The top layer of netting will be the longest length and have any
decorations added such as tiny satin bows or sequins or glitter.
For a child's 4 layer tutu cut the top layer first to determine the
longest length, then make each under layer one half inch to one inch
Gather each layer using a basting stitch and then sew in levels from
the hip to the waist. So that means the first layer is sewn around the
hips, the 2nd a bit higher, the 3rd near the waist and the 4th just
below the waist - that looks the nicest.
An example of the tutu positioned just below the waist is shown in the
photo above by the dancer standing in the center, By the way, she is
representing the 19th century Italian ballerina Maria Taglioni
(1804-1884). This photo gives an idea of a tutu modeled from that time
Tutus are not difficult to make but from the description you can see
they take a good amount of time, so think of it as a lifetime costume
that can be passed from person to person - the top layer perhaps being
changed from time to time to suit the occasion!
Article copyright Susan Kramer; photo credit Annapolis Capitol Newspaper. Used with permission.