October 19, 2016

No Knot Tying Fabric Tutu Tutorial

Do you need a fabric tutu for a Halloween costume for
yourself or a little one? Here is an easy and quick way to
make one with no knot tying involved! 

My daughter-in-law asked me to make a fabric tutu in a 
cowgirl theme for my two year old grand daughter.
Morgan in the end result tutu with jeans underneath

I have not made one before so I looked at tutorials for 
them on the internet. The ones I saw involved tying the
fabric strips in knots onto elastic or ribbons. 

The tutus were really cute but could look bulky around
the waist due to the knots. Also there seemed to be 
different opinions about the best way to tie the knots.

I decided to try a different way to make the fabric tutu.
It turned out to be very easy and quick!
Almost no precision required!
Morgan with her cowgirl boots and tutu. 
She will have more cowgirl accessories when she wears this for Halloween.

Instead of tying the fabric strips, you make a loop at 
the top of the strip to run elastic or ribbon through. 

The result is a less bulky and more uniform waistband. 

You can use fabric you already have at home but we 
needed to buy fabric. I didn't know how much to get
so I ended up having way too much fabric. If you are 
mixing the fabrics, you probably only need 1/4 yard
of each fabric (if you are making the tutu for a girl...
a teenager or adult will need more).
You can make a tutu fit almost any theme, color or occasion by the fabrics 
you choose to make it with. 

You can cut the strips in any width you want to.
I thought that about three inches looked best.

To figure the length of the strip, decide how long you 
want the tutu (factoring in if you want to cut the ends
of the strips on the diagonal when the tutu is finished)
and add one and one half inch (if your elastic or
ribbon is about 1" wide...if it is wider add that
width plus 1/2") for the loop.

For the two year old, I made the strips 13 1/2" long.

To make the loop for the elastic or ribbon to run
through, turn 1 and 1/2" (if your elastic or ribbon is
about one inch wide) to the backside of the fabric
and glue (or sew) along the edge of the fabric.
The elastic I used was 3/4" so I allowed about 1/2" for the glue
 (or sewing) to secure the loop on the fabric.

Press the glued edge onto the backside of the strip
being sure to leave the width of your ribbon or
elastic unglued next to the fold. 

I tried a real fabric glue and an Aleene's glue to
see if both worked (they did) and if there was
any difference (I could not tell a big difference).
They both seemed to be holding well.
The "Liquid Thread" came from JoAnn's. Originally $10 but I used a 50% coupon. 

The "sewing machine in a bottle" glue says that it is
washable. The Alleene's glue is not washable.
 Honestly, any shabby fabric tutus should probably be
 considered "spot clean only". The unfinshed edges would
 unravel a lot in a washing machine or even hand washing.
Oooppps! The loop in the picture is out of focus...my bad. 
Anyway you get the idea...only glue the edge.

You can decide how full you want the tutu to be.
The ones I made had 30 to 40 strips each in them.

After the glue dries (about an hour) you can assemble
the looped fabric on the elastic or ribbon. The elastic
that says "non roll" works better for this project.
Only $2.29 at JoAnns in the sewing notions area. 

Put a large safety pin on the end of the elastic sideways
while you are stringing the looped fabric strips on to it
to keep them from sliding off of the end. 

Grosgrain ribbon (I used about 1" wide) is best if you are
 using ribbon for the waistband. Put a safety pin 
on the end of the ribbon to make it easier to
 run through the fabric loop.

Scrunch the fabric strips together along the elastic
  or ribbon. It gives a gathered look and fullness
 without the bulk of tying fabric strips into knots. 
This method also has all of the "good" or "right"
side of the fabric facing outwards. 

If you are using ribbon as the tutu waistband, be sure
to leave plenty of extra ribbon on either end for tying
a bow. If you are using elastic, allow a few extra inches
(beyond actual waist size) to overlap for pinning the ends.

You may need to adjust the length of the elastic after you
 try the tutu on to get it snug enough to hold the tutu
 up but not too tight.

 Actually once you get the elastic the right size
it would be better to sew the ends of the elastic together
 to avoid having the possibility of the safety pin
 popping open...not good for the wearer or the tutu. 

The ribbon waistband is a one-size-fits-most
 but it may need to be re-tied with a lot of activity. 
Just put it on like an apron and adjust the gathers
along the ribbon. With the loops, the fabric can
 move to get wider or narrower as needed. 
The above photo shows the back of a tutu made with ribbon waistband.
When the tutu is not in use, tie ends of the ribbon back in a bow so the strips won't accidentally
slip off. You could glue or sew the end strips on each side in place after you determine where
along the ribbon they naturally "come together" when the tutu is tied snugly on the wearer..

The elastic waistband stays snugger but needs 
to be close to the waist size and would benefit from 
a little bit of sewing overlapped ends together.

Just in case you DO sew, this tutu can have it's loops
made on a sewing machine instead of gluing.

You can sew a loop on each strip and then string them 
on the waistband or you can do it in assembly line fashion. 

It's easier to have the fabric strips stacked up in the order
you want them on the waistband so you can sew one after
another if you are sewing them like they would in a factory.

I thought about ironing the loop at the correct measurement
so I wouldn't have to stop an measure each loop while sewing 
but I was lazy and just sewed the bottom of the loop while
the ribbon was in it. That way I knew the ribbon would fit
through the loop without measuring. 
Just be sure you don't "catch" or sew the ribbon if  you decide to try this method. 

I would stop sometimes and scrunch the sewn fabric strips
 along the ribbon and make sure they were not coming 
off the other end of the ribbon.

You can leave the ends of the strips flat or you 
can cut them. For the cowgirl tutus I cut each
strip on the diagonal.

 I somewhat tried to do an
opposite angle cutting each strip around the tutu
but nothing about these tutus has to be exact. 

These tutus are SO easy with the glue OR sew method.
I used the left over material to make three more tutus
for my seven year old grand daughter, Lilly, and her 
playmates in no time.  
The two taller girl's, Lilly and Maggie, tutus strips started out as 16 1/2" long. 
Bernadette's tutu strips started out as 15" long. 

Life is just more fun in a tutu! These tutus would be a good girl party craft.
Just have the fabric strips ready to go and the girls could string them on a long ribbon.

Because I didn't want to ruin the cowgirl fabrics if
my plan had not worked out, I bought some extra
fabric to experiment with. The experimental tutu
was all one fabric but constructed the same way.
I'm adding this picture since it is hard to see the pattern of the fabric in the photos. 

Morgan wore the trial run tutu to the pumpkin patch
with her pink cowgirl boots, leggings and a t-shirt.

They don't call these "shabby" tutus for nothing. Since the edges of the fabric
strips are not finished off, there will be fraying. Just cut off the strings if they bother you.

On that tutu I cut each strip into a "fishtail" shape.

By the way, it doesn't have to be Halloween to make
a cute, fun and easy tutu. Girls like them all year long!


  1. Oh wow! How adorbale are these with the cowboy boots! Thank you for hosting at Home Sweet Home!

  2. I will feature this today at Home Sweet Home!


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