What you learn in tutu-making course

30 Nov

The tutu we are talking about in this article refers to the tutu skirt, which is made of short and stiff tulle. There are many reasons why a ballerina’s tutu looks so breathtaking. Here are only a few:

1) Each tutu uses at least 10 metres of tulle.
2) It is multi-layered.
3) It takes time to make: including the decoration and bodice, a professional tutu can take three weeks to construct.
4) it extends the beauty of a ballerina by fully exposing her technique and body lines.

The tutus that are not for professional use are often for children or for people who want to have fun. Many parents have to buy cheap versions, which have four or six layers, for their children because of economic considerations. That’s a pity, but a good tutu is acturally very expensive. However, a six layer tutu can never  compare to a professional one, which has at least 10 layers –  even that is for the base only, not including the decorative layers. When a dancer moves or lift her leg, the ruffles of a 10-layer tutu wave in such an romantic way, which is unique to its type of design. Of course, the more the layers, the more difficult it is to construct. Gradations also need to be made according to individual’s body shape.  All these considerations and techniques will be taught in Prescott & Mackay’s Tutu Making Course. 

Tutor Amanda in class

The tutor Amanda Hall has been making costumes at the Royal Opera House in a freelance capacity for over 20 years. The tutu she teaches us to make is a practice tutu with 10 layers, plus one layer as leg ruffles. This is a type of tutu that ballerinas always wear when they do rehearsals. All the other complicated performance tutus are based on the same techniques, just adding layers of decoration and the bodice. Now take a closer look at every stage of this two-day course, we will admit that this beautiful thing really requires intricate craftsmanship!

10 layers of tulle

To make the look of the tutu more alive, we cut the edge of each layer to make it look like pointed ruffles:

cut the edge of each layer of the tulle

11 layers tulle sewed and pined separately. Each layer has a different width:

layers with their labels

Then you will be pleating the layers. Take a look at how they vary: the widest one is 16-inches-wide and the smallest one is one inch only:

the smallest layer and the biggest one

Since everything in this class is to a professional standard, the knickers of the tutu is of no exception.  We use cotton bobbinet, which is very soft and delicate.

cotton bobbinet knickers

Pleat and sew layers and layers one by one…At last all 11 layers are sewed onto the knickers! The tutu looks like a splendid blossom:

all layers sewed

It’s not completed yet. A wire will be inserted into one of the layers to keep it in shape.  Also a waistband will be hand-tacked onto the knickers.

insert a wire

Now if you intend to make this tutu for other purposes instead of dancing, feel free to wear it as it is. But if you want to wear it to your ballet class, the last bit, called “stringing”, can’t be skipped. Without this step the tutu can’t keep flat and will lose shape after dancers make intense movements. The picture below is the finished tutu!

finished tutu

this is how the practise tutu looks on a ballerina

After you have learnt how to make a practise tutu, you can free your imagination and creativity and decorate it as you like. Why not get some inspirations from Karl Lagerfeld’s tutu design for the English National Ballet? 

Karl Lagerfeld tutu design: the dying swan


Karl and ENB principal Elena

Finally, let’s take a short journey to the costume workshop of Royal Opera House and listen to some insiders’ comments about tutus!


Click here to learn more and book the Tutu Making course, one-of-a-kind in the UK, available at Prescott & Mackay.


3 Responses to “What you learn in tutu-making course”

  1. Nicki Ballinger June 3, 2012 at 2:18 am #

    This course sounds wonderful. Unfortunately I live in Victoria, Australia

  2. prescottandmackay July 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Last – Prescott & Mackay's Blog.


  1. Ballerina Tutu in Gok’s Clothes RoadShow « The Last – Prescott & Mackay's Blog - March 7, 2011

    […] more about what you will do in this professional tutu course […]

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