Tulle Skirt Tutorial
I’m pretty sure that I loved tulle skirts from the second I saw them. I mean, they’re basically adult tutus. What’s not to like? However, as I quickly found out, they’re not really that easy to find in stores. It also turns out that a lot of the internet tutorials are not easy to follow.
When I made my first tulle skirt, I spent a ton of time trying to figure everything out. We’re talking “What paper do I use for the pattern?” to “How do you make a waistband?!?” And literally everything in between. I also spent a lot of time calling my mom for help.
So now I’ve made two tulle skirts (and I’m considering a third, as I mentioned in this post), and it’s actually not that hard. There are just a lot of things that the tutorials failed to mention. And that’s why I’m sharing my tulle skirt tutorial today! (Fingers crossed that you actually find it easy to follow …)
How to Make Your Own Tulle Skirt!
- 2 yards knit fabric (for the lining and waistband)
- 4-8 yards tulle (roughly 2 yards per layer)
- 1 yard 1″-2″ elastic
- Paper for making a pattern (I got banner paper at Target)
- Ruler/measuring tape
Also scissors, a sewing machine, a pen or pencil, and pins. If you want to be specific.
1. Take Your Measurements
Start by measuring your waist. (I’m going to use a 27 1/2″ waist for examples here.) Add 1/2″ of ease so that you have room to eat and breathe in your skirt (which brings us to 28″).
Take the waist measurement and divide it by 2xπ (in other words, find the radius). If it’s a messy fraction, round up to the nearest 1/4″. (For example: 28″ ÷ 2π = 4.456″, which becomes 4 1/2″.) Write down that number as your waist measurement for the pattern.
Optional: Add an extra 1/2″ to the waist measurement to give the tulle plenty of room to fit over your hips (since it’s generally not stretchy). I’ve done it both with and without the extra room, and I thought adding the 1/2″ worked better. That would make our waist measurement 5″.
Then, decide how long you’ll want your skirt to be. Measure from your waist to that point. (It’s helpful to get someone else to do this for you, but I’ve definitely done the measuring myself. It’s just not as precise.) Write the measurement down!
2. Draw the Pattern
Get a large piece of paper (seriously, large), pick a corner, and make sure that the two sides are straight. If they’re not, use your ruler to draw new lines that make a right angle.
Start in the corner of the angle, and draw a line 5″ down the side of the paper (or whatever length your waist measurement was). Move the bottom of the ruler over about 1/2″ (keep the top of the ruler in the corner) and make a mark at the 5″ point. Repeat this until you’ve made an arc, like in the picture below. Then, connect the dots!
Next, add the waist measurement to the length measurement. I made a 22″ skirt, so adding in the 5″ waist measurement brings us to 27″. Repeat the process above with this new measurement – measure down 27″ and keep moving the ruler around to make an arc. If you don’t have a ruler long enough, attaching a pencil to a 27″ piece of string works just as well. 🙂 Connect those dots, and cut out the pattern. It should look something like this.
Finally, draw a pattern for the waistband. Take your waist measurement from above (5″), double it (10″) and add a 1/2″ seam allowance (10 1/2″). Draw a straight, 10 1/2″ line on a new piece of paper. From here, you’ll need to decide how thick you want your waistband to be (mine was 1 1/2″). Double that measurement so that you can fold the waistband over the elastic (so 3″). Then, add 1/2″ seam allowance on each side (4″ total). Using these measurements, draw a rectangle that is 10 1/2″ by 4″ (or whatever your measurements are). This will be the pattern for your waistband.
3. Cut the Fabric
Fold your lining fabric in half, and place the pattern on top of the fabric so that one straight edge lays directly on top of the folded edge. Pin the pattern down. Cut along the waist, base, and one side, but don’t cut down the folded edge. (Unless you want to sew extra seams. If you do, power to you.) Unpin and unfold the fabric. You should have a giant semi-circle that will be the front of your lining. Repeat the process to make the back of your lining.
Repeat this process again with the tulle. My tulle was big enough that I could fold it into fourths and cut an entire layer in one go, but if yours isn’t, just cut the halves like you did for the lining. I recommend having two to four layers of tulle, depending how full you want your skirt to be. My skirt in these pictures has two layers of tulle.
Take the leftover fabric from your lining and fold it in half. Place the waistband pattern piece against the fold and cut the other three sides. When you unfold it, you’ll have the full waistband. (The only seam will be in the center back.)
This is also a good time to cut your elastic. Measure out your full waist plus ease (28″), but don’t give yourself a seam allowance. Then, when you sew it together, it will be snug on your waist. Of course, if you want it tighter/looser, you should adjust accordingly. I seriously think the best way to do this is just to wrap the elastic around your waist and mark where you want the two ends to overlap.
4. Sew It Together!
I highly recommend starting this step by sewing the layers of tulle together, even if you just make a few stitches here and there. That way, you’ll always know that you’re sewing both layers of tulle at once. (A huge timesaver. Trust me.) Then, sew the two short edges of the waistband (the 4″ sides) together to make a circle. We made the pattern with a 1/2″ seam allowance, so sew 1/2″ from the side of the fabric. Iron the seam so that the extra fabric lays flat. I like to press the extra open so there’s less bulk, but it would also be fine to press both pieces to one side.
When you’ve finished those steps, layer the tulle on top of the lining. (I think it’s helpful to literally put the lining inside of the skirt like it will be when the project is done.) Then place the waistband upside down on top of it all (right sides together, if you’re using a fabric that has an obvious right side) so that the edges of the pieces align. Pin it all in place.
Sew 1/2″ from the edge, using a zigzag stitch to allow for a little bit of stretch. Stitch all the way around the skirt and check to be sure that the extra fabric is on the inside of the skirt. Flip to the inside of the skirt, and iron the stitching so that the extra fabric folds toward the waistband.
Sew your elastic together so that it forms a circle. Lay the elastic against the inside of the waistband on the side closest to the tulle. Then, fold the waistband fabric down over the elastic to cover it completely. Working from the outside of the skirt, pin the back of the waistband to the tulle/lining right under the elastic.
Stay on the outside and stitch directly under the waistband – either a straight or a zigzag stitch is fine – to cover the elastic and hide the seam allowances from sewing the skirt to the waistband. Try to avoid the elastic while you’re stitching so that it can stretch as much as possible when you wear the skirt. (But also, if you sew the elastic it’s no big deal.) Press the stitching. Turn the skirt inside out and trim off the excess fabric at the bottom of the waistband.
And that’s it! Try it on and adjust anything as needed. Since the knit fabric is heavier than the tulle, it falls a bit longer, which I wasn’t a fan of. I cut about 4″ off the bottom of that layer, but I think that was a little too much. So use your best judgement on that. 🙂 Also, a bonus, knit and tulle don’t fray, so you don’t need to hem any of the layers (or the inside of the waistband). And really, I think it looks better without the hems.
As you can see in the pictures above, this skirt twirls really well. I can’t even tell you how much fun I had just twirling in circles while Matt took pictures. I highly recommend it to anyone. 🙂
Thanks for reading! If you make a skirt, I’d love to see it!