What Is The Right Length Of Tulle For A Tutu Skirt?

Professional Ballet  Tutus by Costume Creations U.K.
Professional Ballet Tutus by Costume Creations U.K.

How do you know when you have the right length of tulle or netting for a tutu? This is one of the questions that I found on a ballet topics search tool.  Apparently, people have questions about costume construction and I don’t think they mean for doll clothes. I found the question serious, yet humorous at the same time. Now I want to know the same thing; what is the right length of tulle for a tutu skirt?

There You Are With Yards Of Netting-Now What?

Can you picture a befuddled home sewer as they sit in front of yards of tulle with scissors in hand and frozen in fear? The fear can be real when it comes to cutting material of any type. Because fabric costs money, you really do need to know where to cut, how to cut and how MUCH to cut.

Can I Fix A Cutting Mistake With Tulle?

Because I am a blogger who has some experience with fabric cutting mistakes, I can say that is better to cut off too little fabric than to cut off too much. Because tutu skirts are made in graduated layers, it is my belief that costume designers have bolts of netting in various widths to choose from. How do they know what length to make the netting?

 Determining Length Of Tulle For Professional Results

After I wrote the above reference to netting bolts coming in various widths,  I  learned that tulle still requires measuring and cutting  for a precise costume fit in the world of couture dancewear design. How do I know that? I asked the expert directly. Classical tutu skirts are much like fluffy layer cakes that have to lay right in order to look stage-worthy.

“I cut the lengths according to the proportions of the dancer, so they are all different. It is quite hard to get the right “look”. It takes ages; it is really difficult to cut it straight – sometimes with younger children it is necessary to make the skirt a little longer so it doesn’t look too short too quickly. In recent years tutu skirts have become a lot longer. In Australia and NZ they like them very long”.-Monica Newell of Costume Creations U.K.

Using me to trim tulle professionally takes time and experience.
Using me to trim tulle professionally takes time and experience.

Hopefully that answers the question for anyone  who wants to know what the right length of tulle should be for a tutu skirt. There is no magical all-purpose one-size-fits-all netting length  in the world of couture costume making.  Classical tutus are made with many considerations in mind:

  • Character role or variation that will be performed
  • The desired mood or emotion the role is to portray
  • Creating theatrical/ dramatic stage presence by choice of colours and embellishments
  • Measurements of the dancer
  • Performance deadline
  • Budget constraints e.t.c.

The above are just a few of the things that have to be figured out BEFORE the tulle/ netting ever sees the scissors.

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3 comments

  1. Yes you are right there are so many considerations to make before cutting the first frill , the net is very difficult to control, and just as hard to control when you have a room full of cut frills to put together to make a tutu fit to perform in !

  2. The general rule I follow when determining the proper length of a tutu is to have the ballerina pose in arabesque, leaning forward. The tutu should come right to the knee while leaning forward. Then I know it’s in proportion to her body.

  3. You measure the dancer from the point of her elbow to the tip of her fingers, that is the correct length of a pancake style skirt assuming the skirt will be worn/fitted approximately 2 inches below the natural waistline.

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