A Running Tutu – a how-to post with lots of pictures

Remember this photo? And the reason behind all that tulle? Runner tutus.

It’s no secret that I brag constantly about my adoration of tutu‘s. Not only do I feel that they are important runner attire that garner you lots of attention and photos, I also believe that they make you run faster, enjoy the run more, and make you feel fantastic. I firmly believe that you cannot consider yourself a truly accomplished racer unless you have done one in a tutu.

Thanks to my running partner and best friend Katharine Parker I have learned to make these multi colored and layered tulle filled skirts of beauty…and it is because of her that I now own 4 of my own…and am going to share with you the secrets of making your own tutu. It takes a bit of time, and a lot of patience, but the end result is totally worth it. (or, you can always pick up the supplies and send them to me, along with a small maker’s fee, and I’ll do it for you)

First – you need supplies. You are going to need elastic, fabric sheers, and tulle. If you live near a Joann’s Fabric, go to the wedding section. Each roll there is 25 yards. You will need 4 for a good, full, fluffy tutu. You can also grab some ribbon to add to the tutu for a little something extra. Contrasting colors are good. I am planning on using the silver on my black tutus, and the pink on my Easter egg colored ones.


I also recommend finding something to entertain you while you are working on your tutu. The cutting and looping can get boring doing it with nothing on tv or on the radio. I usually turn on Palladia and rock out to concerts while I am making mine. The next step is to measure out your elastic. Do this either standing or on your knees. You want to give yourself a little extra on the ends for flexibility. Some people want to use safety pins to connect the ends, some people tie the ends of the elastic together. I’ve done both, and either works.

I have cute pajamas. 🙂

Once you have measured out your elastic, cut it. If you are making more than one tutu, cut more than one piece of elastic. Next, break out the tulle! I use 4 rolls of the wedding variety, but I have also gone to the fabric section to have it measured out for me. The fabric section has more colors and sometimes has glitter tulle that you can use for a little something extra as well. At Joann’s it’s $5.99 a yard, so unless you want a really pricey tutu, I suggest using a little bit and mixing it in with the standard tulle. Measure out your first piece to use as a guide to cutting the rest of it.

Once you have one measured out, cut the rest of it to that length. You can vary it up for a different and fun look, or you can keep it all one length. For this particular tutu, I made the black longer than the pink in order to have a layered look. I had two rolls of black and two rolls of pink. When I had it all cut up, it looked like below. Once you have it all cut up and ready, grab your elastic. You are going to loop the tulle through itself onto the elastic.

To prepare, loop it around your finger.

Use that loop, and put it under the elastic.

Loop the long ends through the circled part, so that it wraps around the elastic. I use my finger between the tulle and the elastic so when I pull on the ends to tighten it, it actually tightens and doesn’t just squeeze the elastic to a thin line.

Then, rinse and repeat. For this one, I did all the short pink first, then for every two pink, I added two of the longer black ones. If you look carefully, You’ll see that I left one end super short, and then the other one longer.

This is what the final product came out looking like. Ignore how sunburnt and crappy I look. I spent the day at the pool and my hair air dries like a fro.

This one is for my friend Amber Brinker who is running the She Runs LA race, and because she said that I had to wear one too even though I’m in Jacksonville and not LA, her’s what my purple one looks like. (again, I look like hell. And this time the picture was taken after dinner with the folks) I still need to add the ribbon to both hers and mine. The silver ribbon.

I also am making Kat and I tutu’s to wear for the Run To The Sun 8k which is April 21. Those are a bit more easter egg like. Here is one of them done before the ribbon is added.

After you are done making it, you tie it around your race, over your running gear, then go and run. For example (and yes I have other pics of me, but I can’t find them right this second):

With some of the extra elastic and tulle that I had left over from these and from my Gate River Run tutu in blue, I was able to make my niece Eleanor one for Easter! Here is the tutu, and then here is us at the Jacksonville Zoo while she was wearing it!

So there you have it! If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and like I said. If you just want me to do it for you…we can work something out. But seriously, they are so easy to make. You should try it. And feel free to hunt online for deals on tulle and elastic. If you do go to Joann’s, download their app for awesome coupons.

And send me a picture of you rocking your tutu at your next race. I’ll blog about you and your awesomeness as a way to welcome you to the tutu team. Because they rock.


49 thoughts on “A Running Tutu – a how-to post with lots of pictures

  1. Anne says:

    I just saw people wearing tutus at my first 5k yesterday, and decided I really want to have one for my next 5k in July!

    Thanks for the how-to, I’ll be doing this this weekend!

  2. Nina says:

    I’ve been wanting to wear a tutu to a half marathon for a while now and am so thankful for your great tutorial! Because of this I made one in no time (ok, it was a bit tedious but still fun to make). I plan on wearing mine to those years Disneyland half 🙂

  3. Stephanie Zuniga Escobar says:

    how long do you cut your strips? I recently made a tutu with strips cut to about 20″ (so 9″+ in length)…

    also – how do you create the layered look you see in the black/pink tutu with pink on top of the black 🙂

    • jljohnson says:

      To be honest, I never really measured it out. I kind of just eyeball the length.

      And to create the layered look, make the bottom color longer than the top. Then, when you go to do the top layer, lay out your strip of tulle so that one side is longer than the other, but shorter than the bottom color. I will post pictures soon. I have to make a few tutus this week, so check back!! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Running Tutus
  5. Jess says:

    Thanks for sharing your instructions. I love tutus! My running team has decided to make them for our upcoming relay and I was curious if you really use 4 rolls (25 yards/roll) for each tutu.

    • jljohnson says:

      I did, and it made a big bushy tutu. If you want something flatter, you can use less tulle. I like having them big and fluffy around my waist. 🙂

      I love that you are making them for a team! Will you please send me a picture when you are done with them and all of you are wearing them? I’d love to see it!

  6. Stephanie Hierro Mueller says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I recently started running. (I’ve completed 5 out of 8 weeks of the 5K 10 Training program!) I NEVER EVER thought I’d be a runner! But, I’m LOVING it!! I volunteered at a race last fall, and saw someone with a tutu. Then today, I saw the running part of a Traiathalon and many runners had them. My 1st 5K is scheduled for October 14. This is going to be PERFECT!!! I’m so excited to make one! I’m running with a group of friends… so, I might make tutus for them as well. (Although, maybe I’m the only one who is excited about this!!)

    Thanks again!! I can’t wait to get to the craft store and starting making mine!! 🙂

  7. Meredith says:

    How do you add the ribbon on? Making these to go with my daughter and I’s Incredibles costum for a Halloween 5k we are doing,

  8. Alyssa says:

    I just found your blog and look forward to reading it weekly. I just attempted my first tutu yesterday while off for the hurricane. Do you just knot the shorter pieces of tulle on top on the longer pieces? I am not crafty at all and am just a little confused.

    • jljohnson says:

      I thought I had answered this but it’s not showing up so I shall try again!

      To do the layered look, I alternated between long and short, and pulled the shorter tulle above the longer tulle. It will then look layered. 🙂 and thanks for following!!

  9. Karrina says:

    I love this tutorial. My duaghter is doing her first 5K this weekend with Girls on the Run and I am proud to be her buddy runner! I wanted her to stand out and be super cute. Thank you for the post!

  10. Autumn Stacy says:

    thanks for the info!! i’ve done 12 races now and i’ve always wanted to wear a tutu. as a surprise, i’m going to make a tutu for each of my team members for this week’s color run!

  11. Kacey says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial! Going to make one for the Color Run in a few months and definitely for the Disney Princess Half. Pinned it!

  12. Brittaney says:

    Hi! I’ve just made a couple of tutu’s and I’m wondering if you ever have the problem with the tulle bunching up and getting tangled. I made one for myself and my daughter and hers is a mess when she wears it for 60 seconds. Do you have any tricks? I noticed you used Wedding Tulle. I am not sure what kind of tulle I purchased from Hobby Lobby, but it was not advertised as wedding tulle. Does that make a difference? Thanks!

    • jljohnson says:

      Hey there!! 🙂 The tulle is going to get bunched up and tangled, it does when I wear it too. How old is your daughter? My 2 year old neice wears her’s and it’s always a mess when she is done. It’s just how it works. If you are really wanting it to not get bunched, you could thread some string through the pieces and see if that will allow it to stay straight… but I say just have fun with it and then finger comb it when she is done wearing it.

      Also – the tulle you get at Hobby Lobby is the same tulle I get in the wedding section of Joanns. Hobby Lobby does have a fantastic selection though! 🙂

    • jljohnson says:

      It varies. If you want to use a lot of tulle and make it super piece, you can do maybe one or two inches. I usually grab a wide roll of tulle from the wedding section, which is about 6 inches, and scrunch it some when I attach it to the elastic, and let it sit open at the bottom. 🙂

  13. Brittany says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for explaining where to get the tulle at Joann’s! I’ve looked the last few times I was there and couldn’t find it. I love the layered look too! Super awesome! 🙂

  14. Jean Hildreth says:

    Simple question… How wide should the tulle be?? I do understand that if I want 12 in pieces I would cut 24 in lengths. For a 5’2″ runner is that a good length ?

    • sahm2girls says:

      If you are using the tulle on rolls, the width is whatever the roll is wide. if you look in the first pic you can see how she is just unrolling and cutting to the length she needs. If you are buying tulle from the big bolts in the fabric section, you’ll need to check the width of the material (mine was 54″) and cut it down to 6″ strips, then cut each strip to the length you need.
      Right Jamie?

  15. leahto3 says:

    I love your how to! I will be running a marathon on my birthday and I want a black tutu for my costume. I was going to order from Tough Girl Tutus but I want plan black to go with my outfit! And I sure hope the tutu makes me speedy since I will be trying to BQ while wearing it!

  16. Heather Edmands says:

    After my first race making a tutu in this fashion, I resolved to wear one in every race henceforth – It adds an extra layer of excitement and causes others (strangers, fellow runners, spectators) to give you added encouragement along the race course. It also makes it really easy to be spotted! I’ve done a pink tutu, a white tutu, a black sparkly tutu, a blue Mario tutu, and a red sparkle tutu that managed double duty as devil tutu and Minnie Mouse! This fall, I’m making a Holly Golightly long black tutu that will subsequently be used as a spider tutu. There’s a lot of tulle in my house…

  17. noramann says:

    I’m doing my first 1/2 marathon in May and running to raise money for Alzheimer’s I’m going to put the names of people with Alzheimer’s in whose honor/memory I’m running on my tutu – in Glitter paint! Thanks for this great how-to!!

  18. Katie says:

    Hi! These look great! We have our season culminating 5k and I’m thinking about doing this for my Girls on the Run team 🙂 After cutting the elastic, do you just knot it or do you actually sew it?

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