The Stuff Dreams And Tutus Are Made Of

The Fascinating History Of Tulle

Whenever I see a ballerina on stage wearing a magnificent classical tutu, I take in the whole picture of the costume and give no thought to the individual parts. Every once in a while I find myself wanting to know more about the things I love by digging deeper and asking myself questions.

By now, I have come to understand the history of ballet costumes and tradition in a very basic way. The traditional classical tutu must have a multi-layered tulle skirt to be classified that way. My question is: who made this stuff? Somebody invented tulle and someone decided to use it for ballet costumes.

I did a bit of research on the history of tulle and found some very interesting facts:

  • The reason that is called tulle is because it was invented in Tulle, France
  • Tulle was created when fabric makers began weaving silk into a honeycomb or hexagon shaped pattern
  • Tulle is old! It was created in the early 1700’s
  • It wasn’t until 1807 that a machine was invented that could copy the weave pattern of hand-made tulle
  • Brides didn’t wear tulle for their weddings until Queen Victoria made tulle popular by wearing it herself in 1840

As you can see in this photo, tulle has a certain pattern to the weave that gives it unique characteristics. The spaces in between the threads give tulle the floaty and bouncy properties that make it perfect for a dancer on stage. Can you imagine trying to weave something like this by hand?

310 years ago, a weaver decided to try something new. His intricate handwork created the tulle fabric and added yet another page to the rich and beautiful history of tradition in the ballet world.



  1. Excellent little background piece on tulle 🙂 There are actually now two types of tulle-making processes commonly used, one is the traditional bobbinet, and the other is a form of tricot.

    Usually the nylon and polyester tulle is tricot and the cotton and silk tulle are bobbinet.

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