Classical Ballet Tutu

Happy (late) Halloween, ya’ll! My house has been abuzz these past couple of weeks, not only because I decided to wait until the bewitching hour to start my Halloween costume (doesn’t that seem to happen each year?) but also because I’m MOVING TO AUSTIN! You heard that right, folks, I’m becoming a Texan.

I love to treat myself to an elaborate Halloween costume when I can and this year I decided to go big: a classical ballet tutu. That is, a creepy ballerina doll costume.

Cali Fabrics has the perfect materials for the tutu skirt:

Petticoat net, of which I used 10 yards, Power net, which I doubled, and used about a yard, and a beautiful Bridal lace, of which I used 2 yards.

I also used tulle, bengaline (for the bodice), muslin (for backing), plastic boning, 3/8″ elastic, ballet elastic, grosgrain ribbon, and hook and eye tape.

Pattern Making

To make the basque pattern, I take my hip measurement where the panty and basque connect and make strips of paper that length. I then make slashes along my body’s curves and overlap the resulting strips until the top edges matches my waist measurement. 

I use a size XXL underwear pattern (normally I wear a medium) because the panty will only be a tiny bit stretchy after all of the layers are sewn on.

The bodice pattern is based on last year’s Maleficent costume because I already knew it fit well and it has a similar deep v neck line.

Tutu Bodice

I use bengaline for the bodice because it is a very sturdy fabric, yet also elegant. Tutu bodices are made to be altered to different dancers, so for that reason, I add extra seam allowance to the sides and back. I also cut out 2 layers of muslin for each piece as backing.
On the center front of the bodice, I mark the line I’ll sew on when attaching the lining.
I flat line each bengaline piece to each two muslin pieces on either side and then serge the sides. I also stitch a line down the center front to keep the muslin from shifting in the next step.


I attach the lining in-side-out to the front piece, clip the curved edges, and slit the front v.


In order to properly align the curvy side front piece to the straight center front piece, I start by pinning the bust point on my notch. I then pin the top, then the bottom aligning the edges where the seam line comes together.

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I attach bone casings to each seam in the bodice and then insert the plastic bone.


To finish the edges, I use bias tape of the same material and hand tack down the loose edge.

I hand finish the bias tape edges where they meet in the front and sew in a power mesh triangle over the bust.

I stitch hook and eye tape onto the center back.

On the eye side I make a pleat around the tape and hand stitch it closed to hide it.

Tutu Skirt

I start by cutting out the panty with my rotary cutter. I’m using a double layer of power mesh to add stability.

I draw on the lines where each ruffle will be sewn on. This tutu has eleven layers and is 13″ long.

I bind the edge with a strip of mesh that I’ll later insert elastic into.

For each layer of the tutu, there are either three, four, or five pieces of tulle. I started with three 3 1/4″ pieces and worked my way up to five 13 1/4″ pieces.

On the seventh layer, I add a strip of net that will serve as a channel for the hoop.

For a tutu, a ruffling foot is a must. It makes fast work of ruffling each layer. I simply overlap the next layer over the previous layer by about 2″ rather than seaming them together.

After gathering each layer, I steam them flatter by pinning one side down and holding the other end with my fingers.

Next it’s time to sew each layer onto the tutu! Around the legs I sew gathered tulle because it is much softer than the net. To stitch each layer of net of, I work with the seam allowance pointing down so each piece wants to spring upwards. The ruffles aren’t gathered to a particular size, so they are just eased in as I sew. After completing each layer, I safety pin it down with those before it to keep it out of the way while sewing the next layer. Only the top layer has it’s seam allowance pointing upwards.

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Before the tutu becomes a circle, I attach the basque (which is a waistband of sorts, constructed in the same manner as the bodice.) The basque is a little bit larger than the panty because the panty will stretch a bit when worn.

Next I add hook and eye tape and sew the back together. Then I insert elastic into the binding on the leg holes making the elastic about 1″ shorter than the channel and stitch the crotch closed.

This is what the skirt looks like before it has a hoop in it.

I insert the hoop into the channel and evening space out the ruffles. The ends of the hoop overlap and secure them together with medical tape.

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The final step is to tack each layer to the one beneath it by hand with a loose stitch. This keeps each layer secured together, but keeps the fullness of the skirt.

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I was very pleased with the end result.

I went as a broken doll and it was a huge crowd pleaser.


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6 thoughts on “Classical Ballet Tutu”

  1. Hello there! What an amazing outfit! I am so inspired by you!. I was wondering if you can help (I’m desperate at this point! I am making a 4-way stretch ice skating dress (I’m using Spandex aka LYCRA) with a Tutu attached to it. I was inspired by the Olympic Ice Skater Alina Zagitova’s dresses in her short and long program at this year’s 2018 Olympics. Therefore, I know sewing a legit Tutu onto a ice skating dress CAN be done. However, I am worried about what fabric I should use for the panty. Because since everything on my ice skating dress will be Spandex, I think Spandex might be too flimsy for the panty when it comes to attaching the several layers of tutu tulle. Here are my questions:
    1.)Do you think it is possible to still use spandex for the panty and just add layers of mesh to make it sturdier?
    2.)Or do you suggest using a sturdier fabric for the panty? If the answer is yes, do you think this other type of fabric that I will have to use for the panty will attach well to the main Spandex body? I’m just afraid the seems will start popping between the bodice and the panty since the panty may not have as much stretch as the spandex body. I really hope you can help me and if you are confused on anything I would LOVE to send you a PDF file of my design to show you what I mean!


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