Easy Tulle Overlay on The Essential Dress

A tulle skirt on a dress or peplum just has so much wow factor. 

Did you know you can add a tulle skirt to a dress or peplum after you've sewn it up?

You can! Read on to learn how!

black and halloween fabric dress with 4 pieces of orange tulle laying on a white back drop

Step 1:

Gather your supplies! You'll need 1 finished dress or peplum.

(If you don't have a finished dress or peplum make it now with my favorite pattern The Essential Set)

And the tulle. I like to buy my tulle from tulletastic.com. They have the softest, most drape-iest tulle EVER. Seriously, it's amazing and a great price.

How much tulle you'll need depends on how full you want the skirt AND the fabric you used for your bodice.

If you're bodice fabric is similar to Doodle Brand you may want to go light on the tulle unless you are going to reinforce the seam with clear elastic. ACTUALLY, I recommend using clear elastic on the skirt to bodice seam if you're going to do a full tulle skirt all the time.

I doubled the amount of skirt pieces required by The Essential Set pattern. My rectangle skirt pattern piece said to cut 2 so for the tulle I cut 4. Now this is going to give me a skirt that isn't super full BUT I used Doodle fabric for my bodice and didn't reinforce my seam so this will be fine. If I make the tulle much fuller my seam is going to me super wonky.

If you reinforced your seam with clear elastic good on you. If you didn't you can actually do that right meow. Go on, I'll wait.

Now you can do a much fuller skirt. If you're feeling super ambitious about gathering and want the fullest skirt cut 8 skirt pieces out of tulle. If you're feeling ambitious but you don't have time for that kind of gathering then just cut 6.

So to recap the supplies we need are:

  • 1 Finished Dress or Peplum
  • Tulle (cut skirt piece X2 for a not full skirt, X3 for a full skirt, X4 for a super OMG fluffy full skirt ((please reinforce your seam with clear elastic if going X3+))
  • Optional (but recommend if you are using a X3+ tulle) - CLEAR ELASTIC*
  • Stretch Needle
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine capable of zig zag stitch
  • Scissors

Step 2:

Gather your tulle up however you like to gather but make sure you do it 1/2" away from the raw edge. 

There are a few ways to gather using a sewing machine. 

For me I like to set my tension as high as possible and set my stitch length for as long as possible. This makes the machine gather the tulle pretty much on it's own.

Some machines however don't like that. For you I recommend setting your machine to the longest stitch (leave your tension alone) and then gather the tulle by carefully pulling the bobbin thread. I suggest doing 2 rows of stitching (with the bobbin thread on the same side for each line of stitching) before gathering. BE VERY CAREFUL PULLING THOSE BOBBIN THREADS cus they can break and that suuuuuucks. 

So you got the tulle at the machine and you're almost to the end of gathering your first piece. For the next piece I like to fold the edge under a few inches when I'm attaching it to the tulle already under my foot. See the two photos below.

orange tulle laying on a sewing machine with a white person's hand holding the tulle

The fabric under my machine's foot is being gathered but I'm almost to the end.

So I take my next piece of tulle and fold the edge under a few inches.

Then I continue gathering.

Step 3:

With all the pieces gathered you now need to make sure your gathered tulle will go around the dress (or peplum) and overlap a couple inches.

I like to just gage this by laying my dress on top of the tulle and wrapping it around. If it's too gathered...which typically doesn't happen to me...I loosen up the gathers by gently pulling them.

If I find that my tulle isn't gathered enough (like this skirt can wrap around this dress 1-1/2 times) then I hold onto my bobbin thread and gather the tulle up a little bit more.

Step 4:

With the tulle gathered enough to wrap around the skirt plus a couple inches I'm ready to sew it on!

Im going to sew the tulle onto the skirt using a stretch stitch. For me that's going to be a zig zag.

I'm going to lay my tulle on my dress so that those edges I folded under in step 1 are facing my bodice. (Basically you want the nice folded pieces on the outside of the dress not the raw edges, if you mess this part up, don't worry, no one will notice...other than you...it may eat away at you....DON'T LET IT! YOU'RE THE BOSS, NOT THAT DRESS!) In addition to that, my tulle skirt will be upside down. See picture below.

I'm going to start sewing my tulle on at the back of my dress.

My bodice to skirt seam is pressed up towards the neckband.

My line of stitching from gathering the tulle will be in line with the bodice to skirt seam.

I will be sewing the tulle to the right side of the dress on top of the bodice to skirt seam using a stretch stitch.

Step 5:

At my machine, before I put the tulle over the bodice to skirt seam I'm making sure the seam is pressed up, towards the neckband. 

I will sew right on top of that seam.

Now I'm ready to put my tulle on.

The thread I used to gather my tulle is right over my bodice to skirt seam. The tulle skirt is upside down, as in the tulle is covering the bodice.

Begin sewing the tulle to the back of the dress at the bodice to skirt seam using a stretch stitch (I'm using a zig zag). Don't forget to back stitch.

Work slowly and when you get to the end of the tulle you should be a few inches beyond where you started. Make sure to back stitch at the end.

Flip the tulle skirt down and you're done!

Like free patterns?

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