Frequently Asked Questions

Can you ship a tutu? What about flying with a tutu?

SHIPPING: Large boxes made for “mirrors or pictures” are a good way to ship hooped tutus. These usually can be found at “moving and storage” facilities or suppliers. Secure the tutu to the middle of the box to avoid crushing the edges.

“SHIPPING CENTERS” (with multiple carriers) are more likely to provide better price options. They can compare the different carrier’s costs and give you the best rates.  There can be a huge difference in the rates.

FLYING: Check with the airline you will be traveling with. Some carriers will allow you to bring the tutu on board with you.  If not, they will have to be checked at the counter.

How to Print Patterns. Using professional patterns.

For instructions on printing patterns sent by pdf, click here: Printing Instructions

Are professional patterns the same as commercial patterns? 

No! If you’ve never used patterns made for professionals you’ll notice several things:

  • Bust, waist, hip lines as well as actual measurements are noted on pattern pieces to aid in getting accurate fit and for altering.
  • You’ll see that the ease in the fit is different, and usually quite a bit tighter than commercial patterns
  • Instructions or notes are NOT as detailed as commercial patterns and a certain amount of sewing/costuming knowledge is presumed.
  • We are available to answer a few questions as time permits but do highly recommend taking classes if you have not made costumes for ballet dancers before.  

How should you store a tutu?

Tutu should be stored flat if at all possible. Under beds and hanging on walls is a common place to consider.
Use a breathable cover (lightweight fabric), rather than plastic for long term storage.
Do not “hang” by the shoulder elastics. The elastic will eventually lose its “stretch”.
Some like to store tutus upside down. Do not hang by the crotch. This is a delicate area and may result in weakened fabric and elastic.
Romantic tutu’s may be stored, covered (breathable) and hung by loops sewn into the costume.
If storing in a tutu bag, be sure the tutu stays centered and the edges are not crimped.
Tutu hangers are also a practical way to hang …see “resources”

How are tutus cleaned?



What is the use of the tutu? Is it going to be worn only a few times or expected to last many years with numerous wearings? Is it only to be worn by one dancer or shared?
If it is to last many years, you must be sure to use fabrics and embellishments that are compatible for the type of cleaning it will receive. If not compatible they should be removable.
Will the tutu be hand washed? If so, have all the fabrics been prewashed, including the linings and notions?  Cotton (most commonly used for linings) can shrink and distort bodice and basque if not preshrunk.
Will washing effect the look or feel of the fabric, will colors bleed?
If dry cleaning, are all fabrics, trims and glues dry cleanable?
Some glues are not washable; some are not dry cleanable. If using glue to attach sequins or stones, be sure to keep in mind how the costume will be cleaned.
Some bodices may require different laundering than the skirts; they should be removable and treated separately.


Both washing and dry cleaning damage a tutu. Do so infrequently and with care.
Try to spot clean areas rather than cleaning the whole costume
Use a steamer to remove wrinkles and freshen a tutu. Irons should be used with great caution as too high of heat can melt netting, sequins, and damage delicate fabrics and trims.
Spray with Febreeze or vodka to remove odors and kill some bacteria
Always allow costumes to air dry between performances and before storing.
Using a hair dryer can speed this up between performances
Hand washing:
Determine what is not washable and remove.
Remove bodice from skirt and wash or clean separately
Hoops covered with buckram (rather than plastic) will need to be removed to wash. With time hoops will rust and the buckram will disintegrate.
When washing a tutu skirt (remove bodice, clean separately), wash in a bathtub with cool water and mild soap. Thoroughly rinse then air dry.
Try to maintain the shape of the skirt while laundering:
Classical tutus--dry flat
Romantics-- hang to dry
Dry cleaning:
Try to find a cleaner that is familiar with cleaning costumes and inform them of all known fibers, trims and glues used.
Dry cleaning solvents may damage some sequins and stones, ASK first!

FINAL THOUGHTS: Give clients a list of fabrics, trims and notions and if possible list known fibers. It is also extremely helpful to give them small fabric samples of what has been used…these can be helpful to test laundering methods on rather than testing on the tutu.

Terminology: what does ...... mean?

Many of the terms used also have other names or definitions.  These are the definitions we will be using.

BODICE: top part of a ballet tutu or costume.
BASQUE: the section of a tutu that fits around the hips from waist to upper or “high” hip,
PANTY: What the net ruffles are sewn onto.
CLASSICAL TUTU: Short ballet tutu. Can be whole tutu or referring to just the skirt portion.
RUSSIAN or PANCAKE TUTU:  a very flat, thin tutu with a hoop.

  • Russian also may refer to bodice (longline) style.

ENGLISH, BELL or EUROPEAN TUTU:  softer non hooped tutu
POWDERFUFF TUTU: Short, fluffy tutu made famous by Karinska
ROMANTIC TUTU: A long soft tulle skirt. 

  • Typically 4-6 layers or more. Sometimes only one very full layer.
  •  Lengths can be from mid thigh to ankle.

 TACKING or STRINGING: The method of using small loops of thread to shape and control the classical tutu skirt ruffles.
HOOPING: Narrow steel “ring” insert in among the net layers to help hold the skirt out and flat.
TUTU NET: A stiff net, either “diamond or hexagon shaped holes. Other names are “diamond net”, “Balanchine net”, 40 denier net, ‘can-can net”. It is not “craft net”
CRAFT NET: A softer netting readily found in fabric stores. Craft net is not suitable for making tutus.
TULLE: Very soft, very small holes. Used alone or with other types netting for romantic tutus. Also used for top skirts on classical tutus for a softer finished look.
RUFFLES or FRILLS: Long tightly gathered strips of net. 9-12  layers of ruffles are average for a tutu skirt
“FASHION FABRIC”, “TOP FABRIC": The outside fabric of a bodice. Brocades, Silks or Bengalines are common ones used.
LINING: The fabrics used on the inside of a bodice. Used to give structure, stabalize and support the outside fabric. Usually a dense, tight knit cotton, COUTIL being the most used.
INSET or INSERT: A separate section that is used to imply a chemise, blouse behind a bodice. Or can be a nude colored mesh/lycra used to give the illusion of a deep plunging neckline.
ELASTIC STAYS: Small pieces of elastic used to connect the center front of the bodice to the basque. Allows the bodice to “stretch”.
BONING:   Adds structure, support and shape to a bodice. Similar to a corset.
WAISTBAND: used to secure a tutu at the waist.

  • Petersham or grosgrain ribbon is usually used.

HOOKS and BARS: Fasteners used to close the tutu.