I know I have when I wanted to make one for my girls. I had made some classical tutus before and so naively supposed I simple needed to add extra layers of tulle to support the other layers. Wrong! For someone who has danced mainly in classical and romantic tutus as a kid, this came as a revelation.
What I found after some research is that 2 additional techniques are used in order to create this specific style of tutu.
For those who are wondering what a pancake tutu is exactly, these are tutus that seem to stretch straight outward and are very flat looking like, well ... pancakes. They are seen in ballets such as Swan Lake, or the Nutcracker. Typically, a pancake tutu falls from the dancer's hip, just below the waist.
Of course these tutus are available commercially. Many parents or ballet dancers however learn how to make a pancake tutu simply because professional or commercial ones are for most people a little too much for their budget, especially when you need one for your little girl who is growing so fast.
If you would like to make one, consider these tips:
- Use stiff tulle from a specialty fabric store for the best results when making a pancake tutu. Buy a LOT of tulle. You usually need more than anticipated.
- Do not cut the lengths of tulle too long, as even stiff tulle can droop if its lengthy.
- Sew the tutu as you would any other.
- Optionally, you could pleat the tulle. I will post a video on this separately
- Alternatively, you could starch spray the netting to put it into shape or use the vapor of an iron.
- And then, resort to these 2 unique techniques explained below.
Hooping will help stiffen a classical tutu into a flatter, more 'pancake' shape. A metal or plastic hoop needs to be inserted. This narrow steel “ring” inserts in among the net layers to help hold the skirt out and flat. The hoop can be enclosed in a casing hidden in the middle layers of the tutu skirt or simply sewn in between the layers.
You can buy a ready made hoop, but if you can not find one, simply create a wired layer use soft, plaiable wire sewn into two pieces of tulle in a circle around the base and the top. This should be placed either in the middle or at the base, depending on how you wish your tutu to look.
Tacking or Quilting:
Secondly, the different layers of tulle ruffles need to be tacked or quilted together and attached to the hoop.
'Hand-Tacking' is the process of tying all the layers of the tutu skirt together to create the 'pancake' shape.
A properly tacked tutu lays just flat enough and does not excessively droop or stick-up. Tacking a Classical tutu really is an art. If you tack to tight, the tutu may not be able to 'move' properly. If you tack too loose, the tutu may droop, or lay unevenly.
All this explains why a professionally hand made pancake tutu is quit expensive.
This excellent video from Ms. Emily Adams shows you how to do the tacking:
Let us know if you have other tips, or if you have tried it!