Tutorial: How to Make a Fluffy Tulle Skirt
When taking the photos for Becka Noel’s new accessory pattern, we needed a fluffy tulle skirt to finish off the outfit. This is a really simple project that’s fun to put together and makes a big impact. Since it’s not included in the pattern, we thought we’d share it with you here!
There are lots of ways to make a tulle skirt, but the nice thing about this version is that it pulls on and has only a little bit of gathering at the waist, which makes it less bulky and easier to wear under corsets or tight-fitting bodices. Since decorative elastic is used at the waist, it also looks neat and professional when worn on the outside. Read on for the full tutorial!
Also, come visit us at New York Comic Con next week! We’ll be in booth #840 all weekend, with show specials on Cosplay by McCall’s and other costume patterns. Show off your costumes, chat with the team about costume sewing, and meet some of our amazing designers!
The amount of tulle needed will depend on your measurements, the width of your tulle, and how many layers of tulle you want for your skirt. Our skirt was very full, with 14 layers of tulle and netting in gold, cream, cream with glitter, cream with sparkly dots, and navy. You can use fewer layers if you like, but depending on what you plan to wear underneath you may need to add an opaque lining. Between two and four yards of tulle are required for each layer of the skirt, depending on your desired length.
You will also need a length of 2″ (5cm) wide decorative elastic, approximately equal to your waist measurement or the measurement where you would like the finished skirt waistband to sit on your body.
Make the Pattern
Measure around the widest point on your hips and add two inches. Divide this number by 6 to get length “A.” Measure from your waist to your desired skirt length. Add this measurement to length A. This is length “B”.
Example: Hips measure 37″ (94cm). Add 2″ (5cm), equals 39″ (99cm). Divide 39 (99cm) by 6, equals 6.5″ (16.5cm). Length A is 6.5″ (16.5cm). Skirt length 20″ (51cm) plus 6.5″ (16.5cm) equals 26.5″ (67cm). Length B is 26.5″ (67cm).
Use a bold marker to draw two quarter circles on your paper. You can measure with a yardstick, or with a string marked at lengths A and B and thumbtacked at the center of the circle. The small circle will have radius A, and the larger circle radius B. Don’t cut out the pattern. Instead, tape the whole sheet of paper to a flat surface.
Cut the Tulle
Measure a length of tulle equal to length B and fold crosswise. Spread the tulle on top of the pattern and align the fold with one flat side of the quarter circle, with the selvage of the tulle along the other side. You should be able to see through the tulle to the pattern underneath, and follow the lines when cutting. Hold in place with weights and cut along the two curved lines, from the fold up to the selvage. The result will be a half circle.
To avoid wasting fabric, flip the tulle over, fold crosswise again, and cut the next half circle along the opposite selvage. Repeat, cutting from alternating sides until you have enough for all your layers. Each layer requires two half circles.
Assemble the Layers
Because seams will be all but invisible in the voluminous tulle, and tulle doesn’t fray, the seams joining your half circles don’t have to be fancy. Use a ¼” (6mm) seam allowance and a straight stitch, and stretch the tulle slightly as you sew to prevent puckering.
Sew each pair of half circles together along the straight sides, then pile all the layers together. If using layers of different types/colors, try stacking them in different orders to determine the best effect. Baste the layers together around the waist opening.
Add a Waistband
Wrap the decorative elastic around your waist at the desired level and adjust until it sits comfortably and firmly in place. Pin the ends together and make sure that the waistband stretches enough to fit over your hips; if it doesn’t you may need to add a waistband opening. (See end of post for details.)
From scraps of tulle, cut 4 pieces and layer them together. Butt the two ends of the elastic together and position the 4 layers of tulle underneath. Using a zigzag stitch, join the elastic to the tulle by stitching a square. Trim away the excess tulle, leaving at least ¼” (6mm) around the stitches to make sure they don’t pull out. This will be the center back.
Use safety pins to mark the center front and sides, all equal distance from each other. Sew two lines of gathering stitches around the waist opening, at ⅜” and ⅝” (1cm and 1.5cm) from the edge.
Use safety pins to mark the center front, sides, and back of the skirt waist. Match the elastic waistband quarters to the corresponding points on the skirt. The lower edge of the elastic should be just below the second line of stitches. Pull the gathering stitches up slightly to fit the waist opening to the elastic circumference. Zigzag stitch around the entire waistband, overlapping to secure. Remove the gathering.
Optional Waistband Opening
If you can easily pull the waist elastic up over your hips you don’t need to worry about this, but if your waist is much smaller than your hips you might be more comfortable with a waistband that opens.
Draw a vertical line about 6″ (15.2cm) long at the center back of the skirt. Using a straight stitch with a length of about 2mm, stitch a box around the line through all layers of tulle. The stitching should be ⅛” (3mm) from the line on each side. Cut along the line to create the back waist opening. You can add a zipper behind the opening if you like, but since the skirt is so full you should be fine just overlapping the edges when you wear it.
Gather the tulle as above, beginning your gathering stitches on one side of the opening and circling around to end on the other. Make sure you cut the elastic long enough for 1″ (2.5cm) of overlap. Fold ribbon around the ends and zigzag stitch it in place to prevent fraying, then attach to the skirt waist opening as described above. The elastic is not sewn together at the center back, but should end even with the edge on each side of the waist slit. Finish by sewing heavy-duty hooks and eyes to each end of the elastic for a closure.