Hello folks! Despite the long blog hiatus I have, in fact, had a few sewing projects on the go – the first of which I shall share with you now.
A friend of mine asked if I could make her a tutu, like the one I’d made on my course, for a hen night Tinkerbell costume. I happily agreed, but as this exchange originally took place during the tipsy walk between venues on a Halifax night out, the reality of agreeing to make a tutu didn’t sink in until a few days later. A tutu? A proper one? Ready in two weeks’ time? Gulp. Okayyy… I’ll give it a go!I didn’t get along so well with tutu-making the first time around. It was a long, tiring weekend of soul-crushing pleating and net-wrangling, so I was apprehensive about tackling it again. Since I wasn’t convinced it’d turn out brilliantly, I agreed to make it for free if she covered the cost of materials (about £20 all in). To make the project a bit easier (and also because I didn’t have a pattern), I decided to use a pair of ready-made lycra knickers to sew all the layers onto rather than making up my own.
Looks pretty simple on paper. Follow the formula, cut widths (of the net – usually 60″) to the appropriate lengths, scallop the edges, sew together, pleat them up, and BAM!
Except I thought it’d be nice to mix the layers up a bit, colour-wise. Rather than a solid green Tinkerbell tutu, my friend (also called Becca!) and I chose three different greens, which meant sitting down and sussing out how much I’d need of each colour to do which layers. I eventually arrived at this:
Notice all my pinned on labels to help keep track of which layer is which! This was the result of a good two evenings’ (about 4 hours maybe?) worth of cutting time. You can’t see it in the picture, but our dining room table was COVERED in pencil lines.
Once all the layers were cut, they had to be scalloped (read: made pointy at the edges). I made up some halfway decent small, medium, and large templates to trace onto the net and then cut out. I didn’t do this without help – another friend of mine and Ben’s had come round for dinner, and so I introduced the “help Rebecca scallop her tutu layers!” game as pre-dining entertainment. Thanks Katie!
After all the pieces are scalloped, they need to be sewn together to make up the layers. Once the layers are all together, in their scalloped, massive glory (seriously, layer 10 is 25 feet long), they need to be thread-marked into eights. I recruited Ben for this as, I bet you can imagine, halving, quartering, and quartering again a piece of 25-foot-long net is not easy. The method is to make a small notch in the net with scissors, and then go back and mark with contrasting thread where the notches are. This is so when you’re pleating up the layers, you know how much net you need to pleat up to fit within a certain length. Again, since I didn’t have a knicker pattern to tell me exactly how long each eighth on each layer should be, this was mostly guesstimation and, to be honest, I probably needn’t have bothered with all the halving and quartering and marking. But if you want to do it properly, that bit’s pretty important.
Let’s skip ahead to when the layers are all scalloped AND pleated:
Woohoo! But then came the momentous task of actually sewing the layers onto the knickers. This part of the process was far less technical than the professional method – it was a lot of eye-balling and guesstimating where the layers would best sit. Basically, I unpicked the knickers down the back and the gusset so they would lay flat, and roughly drew out sewing lines to guide the layers. And on they went, not without a bit of bother as I didn’t take the time to work out where the eighths were. If I had, I might not have spent so much time wrangling, coaxing, unpicking (and thereby accidentually unpleating entire sections), and stretching the layers to fit across the knickers as they should.
But I persisted, and it actually seemed to work!
Finally, FINALLY, layer 10 was on. And here it is!
I should point out, in professional tutus, a channel is sewn onto layer 7 into which a support steel is later inserted. I didn’t bother with this as a) the tutu only needed to last one night and b) time was limited. Still, I think she was happy with the end result!
All in all, I put in about 20 hours over the course of a few evenings after work. But what a rewarding 20 hours they were!