This tutu costs about $7.50 to make, and that's if you make it very full. I highly recommend them as gifts because they're incredibly thoughtful, and very cheap. Here's what you'll need:
- Tulle- I used 6 yards for DeLaynie's and 5 for Ella's. One lady whose instructions I read only used 2 for a child DeLaynie's size. It wasn't as full, but it was still pretty. You can use two or three coordinating colors, or just one if you want to go simple. I went with three, and was very happy about it. With Ella's, I did 2 yards of the dark color and 1 1/2 yards each of the lighter, coordinating colors. For DeLaynie's, I did 2 yards each. Don't stress too much over this decision. Just make sure the colors look nice together, and that you have enough tulle. (The world's smallest WalMart had all I needed at about a buck a yard.)
- Elastic- I used elastic that was 1/2 inch wide. It worked great. (Again, I found it in the craft department of the local WalMart. $1.18 for way more than I needed for two tutus.
- Ribbon, in coordinating colors to the tulle- I got 2 yards of each color, one per tutu. I matched the ribbon to the darkes, and therefore dominant, color of the tutu. I just love repeating the word, "tutu." Tutu, tutu, tutu! (And, yes. This too was available at Wally Market for about $.68 for two yards. We hope to one day have a WalMart that qualifies for the accepted title of Wally World. For now, it's just a market, not a world.)
- Needle and thread, if you don't have any- I did. I didn't have to buy it. One woman used staples, but that wouldn't last six minutes with my girls, and it sounds dangerous.
Now, do you have everything together? Good. Let's get started with the fun part. If your daughter is old enough, cooperative enough, and crafty enough, she may want to help. I think that it would be completely possible for a preschooler meeting the qualifications listed to help. Unfortunately, DeLaynie isn't cooperative or crafty most of the time when it comes to my ideas. She's very creative with mud, though. Ella is not old enough, but I have a feeling that this will be right up her alley in a year or two. I was alone in making these tutus.
- Start by cutting the tulle into 6"strips. If you think through it really carefully, you can layer them in such a way that they are already in the order in which you plan to put them on the tutu. (For Ella's the pattern was purple-pink-purple-white-purple-pink-purple-white. DeLaynie's was hot pink-white-light pink-hot pink-white-light pink.) If it hurts your head to try to think through it that meticulously, just cut the strips according to color. Just try to make sure that the number of strips works out. (Ella's tutu needed twice as many purple strips as lighter colored strips. DeLaynie's needed an equal number of each.) If not, you'll have one or two strips of tulle to throw away, no biggie. The length of the strips needs to be twice as long as the desired length of the final tutu. I used strips that were 26 inches long, so that the final product was 13 inches long. I would've though that would be too short, but it wasn't at all. (Each bolt of tulle is 52 inches wide, so I just the length in half after cutting the strips. I kept the tulle doubled during the cutting, so I cut at the fold. It sounds sooooo much more complicated than it is.)
- Now, you need to cut the elastic. I wasn't about to try to get an accurate measurement by wrapping it around Ella or DeLaynie's waist. Neither of them do very well constrained. I used pants that fit them well, and wrapped the elastic around them like measuring tape. Then I added 1 inch and cut. Overlap the ends by about 1/2 inch, and sew them together. Like I mentioned previously, one woman stapled the ends together. I guess you could do that if you are completely inept with a needle and thread, but it really doesn't have to look good at all. It just needs to be strong enough to put up with being pulled on a lot. You'll end up with a loop of elastic like this:
- The next step is to start attaching tulle. The way to do this is to double the tulle, place it under the elastic, and pull the ends through the loop that is at the fold. It's like pulling a ponytail through an elastic band, sort of. This is a good place for your daughter to help. She can pull the tulle through. It really isn't that difficult, and perfection isn't nearly as important as the experience (says the woman who made the tutus alone). I tried to draw a diagram of what this looks like, but there really isn't a way for someone so completely inept in all things vaguely similar to drawing to do that. Try to figure it out from this photo. It's completely clear, right?
When they're correct, they look like this:
- Keep doing this. Don't tighten the loops too much, or you'll end up stretching out the elastic. I did that and I had to trim the length, which was a pain after it's finished. When you have attached all the tulle, it should look like this:
Pretty, eh? I got mine pretty full. Fuller than totally necessary. It stands up on its own, which makes me think about the petticoat that Rhett Butler bought for Mammy (in Gone With The Wind). After I finished all of that, I attached a bow to the front, or back, though it usually ends up being the side when DeLaynie's wearing it.
It does look lovely sitting there, doesn't it? But the true test of a tutu's greatness is not how it looks against a wall. It's how the child feels while wearing it.
She rarely takes it off. The only occasions she seems to think worthy of its removal are bath time, bed time, and going out. There are exceptions to that last one, too. Today I let her swing with it on. You would've thought she was in Heaven for the giant grin on her face. That is $15 well spent, because Ella enjoys hers, too. It's great to finally find something extremely girly that DeLaynie enjoys. Here are a couple of pictures of the girls enjoying playtime in their tutus, not that I am trying to compete with Samantha. Nope. Not even gonna try.