A Little Girl’s Tutu and Top for a Shabby Chic Summer Wedding – Tutorial

Happy 1st anniversary to Jennifer and Riley. They were married one year ago today in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. I made tutu’s and tops for two adorable little flower girls and was challenged to make something special. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ and I’m reposting my original tutorial here.

My niece got married today. I was challenged to make tutu’s and tops for two adorable young ladies who were asked to be flower girls. I’m going to share this project in a tutorial, in case you want to make something similar. Let’s get started.

Each tutu has a 7 yard underskirt with an elastic waistband.
To make the underskirt: I knew the young ladies waist measurements were between 18 and 20 inches. I cut soft-to-the-touch 1 1/4″ elastic at 18″ and sewed it together with a 1″ overlap. Then I marked it in four equal places.

Elastic sewn into a circle and then marked into four.
Elastic sewn into a circle and then marked into four equal places.

Tule is sold on the bolt at 57″ wide. I had the clerk at the fabric cutting counter cut the tule in seven yard lengths and loosely rolled it up. At home I am fortunate to have a seven foot picnic table in my dining room. (It was given to my family when I was 12 by some great friends. It’s an heirloom of sorts, but that’s a different story.) I unrolled the tule onto the length of the table and brought each cut end and the factory fold together. I used my serger to sew the tule into a huge circle. (This seam became the middle of the back of the skirt – from the waistline to the hem.) Then I folded the fabric in half lengthwise, and brought each cut end and the new fold together. I serged the raw edges around the length of the skirt, cutting off about 1 1/2″ with the serger knife as I sewed. Now all raw edges were contained at the waist and at one seam down the back of the soon-to-be skirt.  I took a large sewing needle and a length of quilting weight thread (30 inches doubled and knotted) and basted a running stitch at the serged line. This became the gathering line. Seven yards of four layer tule with a folded over hemline was gathered into about a 25″ area and divided into four parts. Attach elastic waistband and gathered tule.The elastic waistband was divided into four parts and the gathered tule and waistband were pinned, then sewn together; pulling the elastic to fit. The overlap of the elastic waistband and the seam from waist to hem in the tule became the back of the skirt. The underskirt is complete. Set it aside.

Tule underskirt
Tule underskirt with no hem. The fabric is folded in half and loose ends are brought up and hidden by elastic at the waist.

Let’s make the apron-style skirt: The bride requested the tule be cut into strips and attached to create a very full skirt. What I made was an apron to wrap around the underskirt. I crocheted a band using white cotton yarn – the same yarn I use to make some great washcloths. The band finished at 18″ and was 4″ tall. (Ch 33 with size H hook. Hdc in second ch from the hook. Sc in each chain stitch in that row. Turn. Dc in every other sc from the previous row. Repeat row 4 times turning after each row. Sc in final row across and hide the cut end of the yarn.)

Apron wrap tutu
Crochet a band to wrap around the waist. Secure with a plastic tie.

I needed a dress form for a five year old and my husband came up with a piece of post (18″ diameter) nailed to a plywood floor for stability. We covered it with a black plastic garbage bag and it worked great!

Child's dress form with 18" circumference.
My version of a child’s dress form. The circumference is 18″.

I put the underskirt on the model and the crocheted band on over that, securing it with a plastic twist tie. Then I cut about 10 yards of 57″ wide tule into 4″ lengths, leaving the fabric folded as it came off the bolt. I didn’t cut them all at once. I used a pair of scissors, cutting a few at a time. Then taking each one, I cut the factory folded end in half. Each time I ended up with two strips in my hands that I folded in half. Using a large G or H crochet hook, stick the hook through the hole in the crochet, hook the loop created by folding the tule in half, and pull it through a few inches.

Child's tutu apron tutorial
Use a crochet hook to bring the tule through the hole in the waistband.

Use the crochet hook to grab the length of tule and pull it through the hole just created.

Child's tutu tutorial
Loop tule through the crocheted band.

Set the crochet hook down. Use one hand to stabilize the crocheted band while using the other to pull and tighten the looped tule. Use one 4″ wide strip of tule cut at the factory foldline for each spot around.

Child's tutu tutorial
Pull cut ends of tule through the loop.

The bottom two rows were folded in half at 28 1/2″ in length. The tule strips on the third row up were cut at about 24″ in length. The tule strips on the top row were cut in thirds at 19″ each. (Recap: Bottom two rows are same length. Third row up is 4″ shorter. Top row is approximately 8 – 10″ shorter. I made the back of the top row a bit longer than the front of the top row. It was ok to have it full and poofy in the back. The front needed to be a bit more subdued.)

Child's tutu apron taking shape over the underskirt.
The tutu apron is taking shape over the underskirt.

Take your time and enjoy the creative process. It’s a bit time consuming but worth it.

Child's finished tutu.
Finished tutu.

The t-shirt was purchased and put on the model backwards creating a higher neckline in the front. The back was cut out, rolled over and hemmed with a straight stitch at stitch size 3 on my sewing machine.

Modified a purchased child's t-shirt.
A child’s t-shirt with the back and shoulder seams cut out.

I cut out the original shoulder seam out and attached lace making a new shoulder seam. One purchased fabric flower was hand sewn at the shoulder over each seam.

Child's tutu tutorial
Purchased fabric flowers were added at each shoulder.

The lace crossed over in the back and was tacked on each side to the t-shirt.

Another option for the back of the top.
This is another option for the back of the dress. It was scrapped for a cleaner look.

The t-shirt was tacked to the underskirt at the front and both sides to keep it tucked in. (The t-shirt was about 5″ longer than it needed to be. All that length was tucked into the waist of the underskirt before tacking.)  Add a pair of pink cowboy boots and a pink cowboy hat full of rose petals and the girls were ready to.

Shabby chic wedding
Child’s tutu and top complete.


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