I have a lovely client named Alisa, from The Ladies of History, and for her next cosplay she would like to be Catherine the Great. She sent me three and a half yards of blue velour upholstery fabric and a vintage fur stole to make the cloak with... Only 3.5 yards? With a nap? For a cloak? That has to go over an 18th century gown? I just about fainted. It couldn't be done! Cloaks need loads of yardage to look nice, a skimpy cloak just looks stupid, especially if you're going to portray a Queen! I had no idea how I was going to make this work.
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I like to make little kid tutus, and thought I would share my method for making them. Ordinarily I wouldn't bother, because it's just a dumb tutu, right? Well, no. It's a smart tutu. I looked around the web and found hundreds of tutu tutorials, but no one was making them like this, and I don't know why. My goal in creating this tutu method was to make them FAST. I sell these at holiday craft bazaars, and the price has to be reasonable for people to actually buy them. My previous tutus were very labor intensive and thus had to have a higher price tag… and no one wanted a tutu with a price tag that reflected the amount of work put in. No one. People don’t care. So, I needed a way to make them so quickly that I could sell them cheap and still have a fair profit. I wasn’t willing to make cheapo little crappy tutus, they had to be nice. Really nice. I wanted a tutu that was able to survive years of careless handling. It had to be reversible, so inside out didn’t matter. It had to be fluffy and tidy looking, like a real ballet tutu—not a giant snarly ball of knotted strips. It had to have a nice trim waistband that wasn’t bulky and was easy for the kid to find, grasp and dress themselves. (If you have ever seen a kid all frustrated with a messy half inside out WTF type of tutu, you know why this is important.)
Although this tutu is fast and easy to make, it is not careless. You need to pay attention to what you are doing. REALLY pay attention, so turn off Judge Judy. Tulle can get away from you and ruin your project while you are taking in the luxury to blink. There are several simple steps here aimed at eliminating possible problems and making your construction time easier. Don’t skip these steps, thinking you’ll just be careful and it won’t happen to you. It will. Trust me, I know. Please take the time to steam and press and tape and mark and sew very straight lines. It really makes a world of difference and eliminates loads of potential frustration. I promise. Don’t be a hero.
Making this tutu is mostly tulle taming, and very little actual sewing. You only have to sew 6 straight lines and that’s about it. Really. Less than 10 minutes using the actual machines, not kidding. The rest of the time you are forcing that tulle to behave so it will slide through the machines nice and smooth without any frustration at all. Tulle can be tamed, and it can be very pleasant to work with. If you have the right tools for the job, tutu making is a piece of cake. There are a lot of little steps, but they are quickly achieved. I can make one of these tutus in about 30 minutes when I'm on a roll.
Are you ready? Here we go!
The short version, for all you smartypants seamsters who already know what's what:
Sandwich a waistband with elastic between two layers of ruffled tulle. Done.
The long version, for those who'd like a step-by-step tutorial that is very loquacious and full of too many photos:
( How I make a super cute, fast, cheap, and quality sewn tutu... )