December 9, 2012

The Look For Less: Anthropologie Tulle Skirt

Okay, Peeps. I've done it again. This time I'm all proud and swirly. I teased you on Facebook and Instagram with some sewing that I did before Thanksgiving, and I'm going to back it up with a shiny new tutorial! Now I don't follow a pattern and I'm sort of halfassed sometimes by accident, so please ask any questions you might have if I've left something out. I promise I won't be offended.

Tulle skirts have become pretty popular. I did a Pinterest search and found a ton - and pinned a good many of them to figure out how to make this sucker.

Anthropologie has a lovely tulle skirt [image below] for $188. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the price. After all, tulle is only $2 a yard. Buying the fancy tulle is only $4 a yard. How on earth could they charge $188? Ha. Stay tuned.

I started searching for pictures of the skirt I liked. I read descriptions, I figured out how many layers of tulle they used, and came up with a plan or 'pattern' I wanted to follow when I made my own.

As a side note, my granny Bertha used to get quite irritated with me as a child when I would construct clothes for my stuffed animals from her fabric scraps with only my eyeballs to guide me, whereas she needed hours poring over a pattern, cut and constructed perfectly. I am allergic to following a pattern. This might be why my children seem allergic to following instructions.

I bought 8 yards of the nicest off-white tulle that JoAnn's had. It was $3.50 per yard. I didn't want white because to me, that's too bridal. But there was quite a selection. The tulle I purchased was approximately 52" wide and folded twice over (four layers on the bolt).

I also bought a package of 1.5" elastic and bias tape/hem facing in the same width as my elastic and the same color as my tulle. If you're making your own and cannot find matching supplies, Rit dye could come in handy here.

To start, I pulled up my DVR and began playing an afternoon's worth of Say Yes To The Dress. Then I rolled the tulle out carefully on the floor. I wanted to keep the layers layered. I did use my mat, but it really wasn't necessary. The tape measure and pins ARE necessary.

I started by securing the layers together about 3/4" from the hem with pins. I did this all the way down the fabric. The purpose of this was to firm up the layers and hold them together so I could baste them.

After all 8 yards were pinned, I basted the layers together by hand using cream thread. My stitches were big and about 1/2" apart. Again, I did this all the way down the fabric, about 3/4" from the hem.

In order to keep the fabric flat on my floor I had to fold the basted portion over iteself once I had a few yards finished. The basting held it in place, though, so everything was fine. After the entire 8 yards were basted, I removed the pins.

After the pins were removed and the entire 8 yards were basted, I cut the length in half to make two,  4 yd 'chunks' of tulle. Each chunk was 4 layers thick. I was careful not to yank a bunch just yet because I had a plan for those basting threads that were loose on each end.

I was concerned about seams. I didn't want to circle the tulle around myself twice because I didn't think it would drape nicely. I also didn't want the seams to be wild and crazy, so I decided to attach the two chunks one at a time. So... I folded each tulle chunk in half. Then one chunk at time, I laid the raw edges on the left side on top of the raw edges on the right side and ran them through my machine using white thread and a straight stitch. I also reinforced the seam. I liked the rawness of the seam myself, and I laid the edges on top of themselves to sew because I didn't want the pucker; it needed to lay flat. Gosh, I hope I'm explaining this right; so sorry I forgot to photograph this step.

After the sides were seamed together, I sat the 2 chunks of tulle aside and wrapped the elastic around my lower waist. I marked a spot that was a bit larger than my lower waist (about 2-3" below belly button) with a pin, and then cut the elastic about 4" past that.

Then I started connecting the first 4 yd chunk of tulle to the elastic. I should note on here somewhere that there is no 'right' side of tulle, so just pick a side and go with it. At the same time that I started connecting the chunk to the elastic, I sort of pulled on the basting thread to make it pucker a bit, pinning it onto the elastic until I ran out. It was blessedly uneven.

I had a brain wave when I sat down to sew the first tulle skirt chunk onto the elastic: use different color threads for each chunk, just in case one needed to be ripped off in error... I could find it. If I'd used white on white on white... who could figure out what to seam rip? Not I.

And so, pink.

As I sewed in ZIGZAG stitch, I shoved the tulle under the walking foot a little tuft at a time and moved quite slowly. I kept an eye on where my pin was on my elastic, and how much of the 4 yd tulle chunk I had left to fit onto it. I will confess to you that using pink thread was useful because I didn't shove the tulle bits in fast enough and got to the pin at the end with about 18" leftover. Not so hot. So I ripped out and did it over again.

At this point I started feeling a bit of confidence and had to text my work to Lulu. It was starting to look like it might work!

Then it was time for the second chunk. Because I didn't want the seams in the same location, I started this one in a different, random place on the elastic. Also for this one, I switched out my thread and used green, again in zigzag stitch. With both chunks of tulle, I sewed them about 1/4" from the bottom of the elastic, one (pink) on top of the other (green). It was not perfect, and I love that.

(inside view below)

After both skirt chunks were attached to the elastic, I tried it on to be sure it fit nicely on my low waist and evaluate for adjustment. It fit, so I trimmed the excess elastic and sewed the two ends of elastic on top of themselves to lie flat. I left the edges raw.

Then it was time to cover the elastic with the bias tape. In order to make a pocket that fit overtop the elastic from the top down, I first sewed a hem on the bottom edge of the tape to hold it down and keep it looking nice.

Then I folded my bias tape in half to make an inside and outside for my waistband 'envelope.' For my size waist, I had enough in the package to fold over and then still encircle my waist. Depending on the length of tape in the package you select, you may need to use two packages of bias tape and connect them. After mine were folded in half (bad sides together), I CUT the fold and then sewed the tops together (bad sides together) to make a pocket that was connected on top. I used white thread in a straight stitch and moved very slowly because this stitch would be seen.

The top-down envelope worked perfectly. I slipped the bias tape envelope down over top of the elastic and kept it roomy and loose. Then I pinned it to the elastic while pulling on the elastic at the same time. You want to be sure you don't sew yourself rigid when you want it to be stretchy.

As you can see, lots of extra bias tape in between the pins. The envelope covered the elastic, the pink and green stitching, and the tops of the two chunks of tulle perfectly. I used a quilting technique to combine the two edges of bias tape and connect them, and then pinned (below).

I knew that I would see the seam from the outside... and because I only wanted one seam to see, I had to attach the skirt's lining before stitching. I found a vintage slip at our local thrift store for $1.98.

I pinned the slip into the inside, against the elastic and UNDER the bias tape envelope, stretching as I went to be sure the elastic in the slip matched up with the elastic in the skirt. Well enough anyway. I unpinned one pin at a time to do this - took it out, added in the slip, and repinned - all the way around.

She was mighty puckery, but oh, she sewed nice. I kept my walking foot on and stitched in zigzag stitch again with white thread, about 1/4" from the bottom of the bias tape edge. I moved slowly.

At this point I was swirly and twitchy with excitement. Holy crap! She's so pretty!!!

It was time to trim the vintage slip underneath.

I measured the length of the tulle (which was all 8 layers now) at approximately 25 inches. That's the thing about tulle: it can be bunchy and wrinkly and look utterly amazing, so don't worry about it being perfect.

So I flipped the tulle up over her head, used my cutting mat, and trimmed the slip about 2" shorter than the tulle. It was about 23".  I also tried the whole thing on again to be sure that the overall length wasn't too long or too short. I wanted it to stop just below my knee cap.

I rolled it twice into an imperfect 1/4" hem, pinned, and stitched with white thread.

Elle est finit.

I did trim a bit of the tulle to make it appear even, but that's the loveliness of tulle. It is imperfect and luxurious at the same time. This is also the part where I need to tell you that between the $30-some bucks in materials plus the 5 hours of labor, I can completely understand why they charged $188 for that skirt.

But it was worth it.

And mine is WAY cooler.


  1. Very cute! You go girly! Of course, this roundy (moi)doesn't need layers of anything around her hips. BUT, it is totally adorbs!

  2. Wow, this looks so pretty. I didn't quite understand the part where you form the tulle into a skirt... did you have one sideseam or two? Or did you cut them in a circle and then baste them?

  3. Nathalia, I had one sideseam, but two layers of it. I used the first chunk of 4 layers and seamed that - and then sewed it to the elastic using pink thread (See above). Then I took the second chunk of 4 layers and seamed that - and then (avoiding the same seam area so the seams weren't on top of each other) sewed that to the elastic as well, over top the first chunk, using green thread. I used different colors on purpose, just in case I needed to yank one out. I left all seams raw. Hope this helps!

  4. Oh, now it makes sense! Brilliant idea.I will make a copy of your skirt soon. (Good thing I live on the other side of the world, so no Outfit-Coordination needed!)