Tuesday, January 3, 2017

DIY Child's Tulle Skirt

There are both advantages and disadvantages to being the odd one out of the three sisters. Both Elin and Delys are tall and slender as ballerinas, while I am curvy and three or four inches shorter. It's nice that I end up with several dresses by default when they end up being too short for my model-height siblings. However, I'm still 5'7", but my relative dwarfism tricks my family sometimes into thinking I am child-size. Such was the case when my mom bought me this tiny dress.

It was wildly on sale or maybe second-hand, if I recall, and she knows I like ivory and lace, but it wouldn't have fit me when I was twelve, and much less now. Still, before I sent it to the thrift store, it struck me that it would make a darling skirt for my niece. She's four-years-old and loves princesses and dress-up, as all four-year-old girls should. Further, she started a dance class, and I thought she'd look angelic prancing around in this soft, tu-tuesque material.

So I scoured the internet and found this tutorial from Make It & Love It. My skirt is much easier to make than starting from scratch. It already has an inner lining and an outer skirt of soft tulle. I looked at sizing charts and decided to cut the skirt long (my niece takes after her mother: tall.) I cut 14 inches off the bottom of both layers of the dress.

Then, per the tutorial, I sewed a gathering stitch around the top of both layers. Unlike the tutorial, I sewed two gathering stitches on each layer of the skirt. I found the material unwieldy, and it was helpful to do it the "correct" way for a more even gather. (For more on gathering stitches, look at her explanation here.)

I wanted a thick waistband at the top, and I set out to find one in an interesting color. Side note from an inexperienced sewer: why are the only 2-inch elastic options black and white? I really thought gold would be so pretty and Christmasy, but after searching high and low, I went with black. Still very cute, of course, but I was slightly disappointed. With the measurement I had from Elin (22 inches, measured around the bellybutton), I cut my 2 inch elastic into 2, 22.5 inch pieces. I stitched each piece together into a circle a quarter inch away from each edge. I inserted one elastic circle into the other ("wrong" sides facing each other and seams lined up and pressed flat). I then carefully zig-zagged around one side of my elastic circle. This is the top of the skirt.

This creates an elastic pocket of sorts into which I could insert the skirt! With a little wrangling, I used my gathering stiches to gather the inner and outer skirts to a 22 inch circumference, evening out the gathering as I went. I then carefully inserted my layered skirt into the bottom of the elastic. This part is tricky; the gathered skirt is thick. I used about 1000 pins to secure the skirt evenly into the band before attempting to zigzag around the bottom of the waistband. Insert mom's comment:

"So you used a ballpoint needle, right?"

"A what?"

"A ballpoint needle? That would be more appropriate for sewing elastic and stretchy fabric."

Mom, of course I don't know what a ballpoint needle is. In fact, I'm pretty sure the needle in my machine is the same one you put in when you brought it to me. I realized it probably was getting dull; I had no idea I needed a special needle. Not until I started sewing this last part, that is; I'm afraid the stitches are a little loopy on the inside of the waistband. No one can see this, of course, but it's aggravating. Follow mum's advice and get a ballpoint needle (whatever that is.)

Still, I feel like a million bucks about the skirt (as I always do after a successful sewing venture.

I was a little worried about giving this as a Christmas present, though. Elin suggested that I try get something non-toy for her little girl, and I appreciate the sentiment. My own Patches has so many toys, and I know he will get more from loving family members this December.

Still, out of worry that my niece would be disappointed to get clothes, I decided to accessorize. I added a princess tiara and wand from dollar tree and decided to make a purse out of the top of the dress. I couldn't find a simple tutorial I liked online, so I decided to make it up! I basically turned the bodice inside out, drew a purse shape on one side, pinned it, sewed along my purse outline (twice), and then cut it out. The top of the purse used to be the neckline of the dress, and the shoulder straps became a purse strap. Add a tulle bow, and voila!

I hope she likes it!

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