DIY: I'm A Total Tulle Skirt

A ballerina-esque vibe and over-the-top girliness make tulle skirts simply irresistible. Tulle skirts are very popular and easily bought online. But where's the fun in that? I decided that I would make my own and debut it at St. Louis Fashion Week. I would characterize myself as an "advanced beginner" with regards to garment construction. Luckily, tulle is a very forgiving fabric. (Translation: minor mistakes will not be visible to anyone but you.)

Here are my behind-the-seams tips on how to make your own tulle skirt, no pattern needed. A basic knowledge of sewing is helpful, so if this seems too intimidating, skip to the end of this post for a no-sew version. I combined my trial-and-error techniques with the tips from this video by ModaMob and instructions from this talented blogger. Despite what the video says, give yourself way more than 20 minutes to do this! LOL I did it over 2 days, but I made a few mistakes along the way. Hey, that's how you learn, right? (And, little Ruby was a bit too excited about her mom's latest project to observe quietly.) You may be able to knock this out in a couple of hours!

1. Gather the materials: at least 6 yards of tulle, 1 yard of elastic that's at least 1'' thick (1.5" or 2" is probably best), yarn in a similar color to the tulle, 1 yard of chiffon or a similar fabric for lining, sewing machine, tape measure, lots and lots of straight pins

2. Decide how long you want the skirt to be. I wanted mine to be a midi-skirt, which ended up being about 23". The tulle I got was already folded, which made it the perfect length.

3. Measure your waist. Cut the elastic so that it fits comfortably around your waist and add about an inch for wiggle/seam allowance room. Don't pull the elastic as tight as it will go - just keep it easy.

4. Here's where it gets a little tricky, but stay with me. Set your sewing machine to the widest straight stitch setting. Slowly gather the tulle and sew it. I stopped every few seconds to bunch it up more. The video does  great job of showing what the tulle should look like. Don't backstitch at either end. The tulle is not attached to anything at this point.

5. Attach the tulle to the elastic. The tulle you just stitched is much wider than the elastic, so you'll be bunching it up even more to get it to fit to the elastic. Bunch it up as evenly as possible and pin it to the elastic. You may end up not needing all the tulle, but I used all 6 gathered yards. Sew it onto the elastic using a ZIG-ZAG stitch. This is critical. If you don't use a zig-zag stitch, you won't be able to pull the skirt over your hips.

5.5 Sew the elastic together using a zig-zag stitch. This is your final step if you don't want a lining, but keep reading if you do!

For the lining:
6. Perhaps because of the color, my skirt was extremely sheer. The lining that I'd hoped to skip became a necessity. I couldn't find any easy or quick instructions on how to make a lining, so this is just what I did. (I'm sure there are better ways to do this - feel free to offer suggestions. You can also just wear a slip, but mine didn't look cute with the skirt).
-Cut the fabric to the length you want it to be, a couple of inches shorter than the tulle skirt.
-Hem the bottom of the lining (not a step I'd recommend skipping) by folding up the bottom about .5 inches and stitching it with a straight stitch.
-Form a big tube of fabric by sewing the ends together. Basically, this looks like a huge version of a regular skirt. You want to make sure that the tube is much wider than your actual waist.
-Pin the fabric tube/lining to the inside of the tulle skirt (right side of lining to wrong side of tulle). You'll be gathering and bunching the lining to make it fit.
-Sew the lining using a ZIG-ZAG stitch again to the skirt. This is kinda cumbersome, so take it slow.

7. Try on the skirt! Cut the bottom of the skirt to the desired length. No need to actually hem the tulle part.

Final notes - I wanted a dramatic, poofy skirt. You can always use less tulle if you want a sleeker look. I ended up making a second, skeleton skirt with 2 yards of tulle I'd bought awhile ago and putting that under the skirt with the lining. Doing that is absolutely not necessary, I was just feeling confident with one tulle skirt under my belt and wanted to see how it would look.

P.S. There is a way to make an adult tutu without sewing. (Whew!) I opted not to go that route since I wanted my skirt to look closer to the store-bought ones. But, if you don't have a sewing machine (I would NOT recommend sewing this by hand!) or don't have the patience, here is a great video on how to make a no-sew tulle skirt.

Top: c/o Shirt Kong; Vest: H&M; Clutch: Goodwill; Shoes: Ziezo; Socks: DSW

The skirt created a sensation! Fashion bloggers and partygoers alike were impressed, and a few people even wanted me to make them one. The best part? My skirt is far from perfect, but still looked amazing. Best of luck with your skirt - I'd love to hear how it goes!

P.S. If you're new to The Ruby Zipper, welcome! Don't forget to "like" the Facebook page for exclusive pics and fashion musings right here. :)


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