Do you have a dancer?

I’m sure just about everyone has a little girl in their life… And if you’re thinking about presents, how about something this frugal, easy and handmade? A custom tutu is something you might find on Etsy, but you can make yours without the hefty price tag.

The no-sew tutu does actually start with a little sewing, which could make the title deceptive. However, with my second model, I got away without sewing a stitch. It’s easy.

No-sew tutu
Use some elastic (free up some old underwear) or simply cut the waistband off some shorts the right size.

Start with an elastic band at the correct size for the child’s waist. Other makers have suggested elastic headbands. For Version 1 I pilfered the elastic from a pair of old undies and sewed them into a band the right size. For Version 2 I simply cut the elastic waist off a pair of old, stained shorts. If you don’t know what size waistband to make, stretch out your fingers — a 20 cm diameter would probably be about right (that’s about an octave between your thumb and little finger).

Next, cut your tulle into strips about as wide as your hand. You want the length of your strips to be twice the length of your skirt (because it doubles over the waist band). I used some cheap, heavy-gauge netting I got off ebay, but if you purchase finer tulle, it’s a bit easier to tie.

No-sew tutu tying instructions
Here's how to attach the netting/tulle strips to the elastic. All you do is knot the tulle over the waist band.

Stretch the band around the back of a chair or your own thigh to keep it stable while you’re tying the strips on. Use as many strips as you can fit — or until you reach the fullness that you want.

No-sew tutu
Tie the tulle/netting around the elastic waist-band, making sure it all faces the same direction (mine doesn't — I had to un-tie it and re-do it all).

Brioni, 3yo, November 2009
Alternate colours of tulle/netting for a more striking effect. Finer tulle gives less body to the whole skirt.

This was quite an easy project and certainly makes a pretty skirt. Highly recommended — even for the busy mother, and keep it in mind for any time you need to make a fancy dress costume.