Step 1: Materials
Tulle (I used yards)
3" thick elastic (you can buy this by the yard)
Optional for hand sewn tutu
Depending on if you use the hand sewn or machine sewn method, this will take an hour or half hour respectively.
You can get all the materials you need at Jo-Ann's or any fabric store. The materials will cost $5-$10 depending on what you have on hand.
Step 2: Prep Tulle and Elastic
You will need to cut the tulle in strips. My tulle was 48" wide, so I left it folded in half "widthwise," the way it came off the fabric bolt. then folded it in half again, then one more time. You will fold it more or less depending on how long you want the tutu to be. I wanted mine to be really short, so my strips were rather thin. After I folded the tulle, I cut off both sided (cutting the fold) so I ended up with 8 strips, 3 yards long, and 6 inches wide. I then folded that in half lengthwise so I had 16 strips, 1.5 yards long, and 6 inches wide.
It helps to have a cat check your work for accuracy.
Step 3: Hand Sewn Option
Thread the needle through the tulle. I like to do this by accordion folding the tulle then sticking the needle through a bunch at a time. This makes things go a lot faster.
When you get to the end of your thread, make another huge knot and even out the tulle so the gathering is to your liking. After that, pin it to your elastic and sew through the end of the elastic.
Step 4: Machine Sewn Option
Back stitch the tulle to the end and edge of the elastic. Gather the tulle as you like and sew as you go. It's a pain to try to pin the tulle to the elastic, so I chose this method. It's hard to explain, but if you go through the pictures quickly, it creates a sort of stop action film that will demonstrate it quite nicely.
When you're done, some sections will not be as gathered as other, but don't worry about it because you'll fill them in with the rest of the layers.
Step 5: Sew Layer After Layer After Layer...
When you've finished sewing on layers, pin the ends of the elastic together and sew them. Make sure you back stitch!
I sewed mine so the seam would be on the outside because I didn't want the tulle or the elastic seam to scratch against my skin. Plus, the top of the costume I'm wearing this with will cover the waist of the tutu so it won't be visible.
You could sew a piece of ribbon over the top of the tutu to make it look more finished, but again, I didn't need to because the top of the costume will cover the top of the tutu.