The first item I made for Valérie’s queen of hearts costume is a tutu.
There are plenty of tutu tutorials out there but they’re mostly no sew tutus. I think those can be great but I wanted a tutu like those I used to wear at ballet. Not a bunch of strips tied to an elastic. I hunted around for some sewn tutu tutorials and found two. The first I found was this one. I like the technique. It’s made of strips again but I could easily convert it to tulle on the bolt. My issue is that I find tulle can be scratchy against the skin and this had tulle on the inside part of the elastic too. I admit that, for this costume, the tutu will be worn over a bodysuit but since it will go in the dress up chest afterwards, I want to be sure it’s always comfortable. Second, I found this one. Perfect! Only I prefer to work flat so I waited until the tulle was sewn on to close the elastic. And I decorated mine.
Materials (for a toddler queen of hearts tutu, size 12-24 months I would say)
1 yard of 54″ wide black tulle (I got mine at fabric.com and they always cut out a little more so I think mine ended up being more like 40″)
black 0.75″ elastic (enough to go around the waist)
black and white threads
red crystals and rhinestone applicator (alternately, you could just sew on beads and sequins or even little heart appliqués or even do some red embroidery; I think some shimmer is important here though so make sure your embroidery thread or appliqué is shimmery)
rotary cutter and mat
Step 1: Measure the elastic around your toddler’s waist. While this sounds easy, it can be quite difficult is your toddler is being uncooperative. I like to stretch the elastic just a bit to make sure I have a good snug fit (you don’t want it falling off but you don’t want it too tight either). I overlap about 0.5″ and cut.
Step 2: Lay the tulle out on the mat and fold it first in half widthwise (so from 54″ by 36″ to 27″ by 36″) and then again. You have a long rectangle 13.5″ by 36″. Fold the rectangle in half the other way (now 13.5″ by 18″) and slide a ruler inside up against the fold. Hold the ruler in place and open up the tulle. Cut along the ruler and unfold. You will now have two rectangles 54″ by 18″.
Step 3: Fold one of the rectangles in two lengthwise to 54″ by 9″. With the white thread, baste along the fold, leaving long tails on each side. It doesn’t matter if you gather the material a bit as you do so because the next step is gathering anyway. I tried to get a good photo of this step but I couldn’t get a good one on my own and the ones that Mr. Mouse took didn’t really work.
Step 4: Gather the tulle on the thread until it’s just a bit shorter than the elastic. Pin each edge of the tulle about 0.25″ in from the edge of the elastic. Pin the rest of the tulle along the elastic, adjusting the gathering so it’s even. This first layer is pinned close to the bottom of the elastic.
Step 5: Set your sewing machine up with black thread and a zigzag stitch. I used a width of 7 (maximum) and a length of 3 (millimeters, I think; just two notches longer than the preset). Sew the tulle to the elastic.
Step 6: Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 with the other rectangle. This time though, pin to the top edge of the elastic.
Step 7: With the tulle to the inside, overlap the ends of the elastic and sew together. I did a sort of hourglass shape. to make it sturdier. The tulle should overlap a little.
Here is the tutu. I like to flip it over to have a neater top edge and a bit more fullness.
Step 8: Add embellishments. I used three different sizes of red crystals. I wanted a random-ish pattern on the tutu. But I still wanted it to be balanced. I started with the big ones and spaced them roughly evenly on the bottom. I had enough to add a second row, spreading them out more. Then I completed the second row with the medium crystals and added as many rows as I could with those medium crystals. With the small crystals, I did two rows but also filled any big gaps in the lower rows. The effect is sort of random. It’s balanced and there’s no obvious pattern. Admire your work.