Settle in and get ready for an incredible tutu dress tutorial! Our customer, Danelle, creates some incredible tutu dresses and she has kindly made this tutorial for you. Enjoy!
This tutorial is for a Garden Fairy Tutu Dress.
Gather Your Materials:
Tulle - Use 6" tulle that comes in 25 yard rolls. I usually use 3-4 rolls per dress.
Ribbon - This is for the shoulder straps, the wrapping of the waist, top of the dress, and for the design on the front of the dress. The ribbon I used was a 7/8" ribbon. The Hair Bow Company sells this in 5 yard spools, you'll need about 6 of these.
Embellishments - In this case, flowers. This dress features around 70 flowers! You can choose to use as many or as few as you like. Feel free to follow my design or create your own!
An 8 inch Crochet Headband
Lace - You can usually find this on the roll, just like the tulle. If it isn't available you can simply buy some by the yard. One or two yards should be enough.
Cardboard Child/Youth T-shirt Form - You can find these at your local craft store for about a dollar
Pattern Cutting Board - This is just a large piece of cardboard that has measurement lines. I found mine at Walmart for $5
Flexible measuring tape
Fabric Glue - I like Aleene's - "Ok To Wash It." Follow package directions for use. It is permanent.
Sewing Needles & Thread - Optional, but may be needed if some of your flowers have plastic parts. If they do, you'll need to remove the plastic pieces and sew your flower petals back together, which isn't hard - just a few quick stitches on each side of the flower will do. You may sew a bead into the center to hide any holes from the plastic pieces. I chose to use pearls that I already had on hand, but you can find beads at the craft store
Three long pieces of string
Wax Paper - So you don't glue the dress to the form
Fairy Wings - (Optional)
Next, you will want to determine your skirt length by measuring your child at her natural waist line, down to wherever you want the dress to end. For this dress, I decided to make the front short while keeping the sides and back of the skirt long. I measured my daughter (2 years old) to have the front of the skirt hit just above knee level, which was about 10 inches. Since I wanted the rest long, I didn't bother to measure, I just picked a number. 24 inches.
Remember that when you go to measure the tulle, you must double your desired length to accommodate the folding and knots you'll be making. Example: I want my tulle strips to be 10 inches and 24 inches, so I must cut them at 20 inches and 48 inches.
Measure the tulle by rolling it out on top of the pattern cutting board and cut at your needed (doubled) number. Leaving the cut tulle in place, fold your strip in half down the length, and at your original number, pinch the sides together. Pick the strip up at the pinched sides and line up the ends at best as you can and form a loop at the top of the strip.
Put your 8" crochet headband on your cardboard form. Normally, I would start at the back of the crochet band (seam side) and you can start there if you're making your skirt all one length. But since mine is short in the front, I decided to start there. I skipped the first two solid squares because those will end up being the sides of the dress (which I want long) and tied my tulle strip onto the third solid square of the crochet band.
Slide the loop of your tulle strip under the correct square (in this case, the 3rd square) and up through the empty space above it. Now take the ends and push them through the loop and pull them back down towards you to form a slip knot.
Do this all the way across, making sure to stop at the third square from the edge. Once done with that first layer, move up to the row above and using the solid squares directly above the ones you just tied, repeat with the remaining tulle strips to make your second skirt layer.
Next you will need to cut a few pieces of lace to your desired number and simply tie those to the solid squares that are between your two skirt layers. This is not photographed but you can refer to a completed photo to see how the lave strands look.
To finish the rest of the skirt, figure out how many long tulle strips you will need by counting the solid squares and multiplying by two. My count was 44 (22 squares per row) So I had to cut 44 tulle strips at 48 inches in length. Tie these on the same way as before going around the entire dress. Remember to do both layers.
Once the skirt is done you can move on to the weaving or filling of the top. For this you will need a really really long piece of tulle. To do this, go to the largest room in your house and lay one end of the tulle at the edge of the wall and use a heavy book or something to hold it in place. Roll the tulle out all the way across the room to the far wall and back again to your starting place. Do this about 3 or 4 times. I know it seems like a lot but trust me, It's better to have too much than not enough!
Make sure the back (seam side) of the dress is facing you. Now, starting at the top of the band, at the first solid square next to the seam on the Second row, insert one end of the tulle under the square and up through the empty space above it. Tie into a small tight knot.
At this point you'll want to decide how you want to fill the top. You can have the tulle going across, up, or even diagonally. Then choose how tight you want the weave to be. You can weave the tulle in and out of every space, every other space, etc.
Once you have one end tied onto the band, take the other end and place it into the first space on the second row (should be the space right after your knot) and out through the next space beside it.
Pull through all the excess tulle length. Pull it tight enough to form the weave but not too tight that it distorts the band.
When you reach the end of your row, simply flip your form over and continue your pattern until you've reached your starting point again. Once there, you'll notice that you can't use the space next to it because that's the row you just filled, so you will have to move down to the next row and place the ends in the space directly below your start point and out through the next space beside it, starting your second filled row.
Repeat these steps until you have the entire crochet band filled. Once you reach the bottom, tie the ends directly to the seam or an available square closest to the seam. Cut off excess tulle ends.
This next step will be creating the ribbon design on the front of the dress. This is where you'll use those three pieces of string and more lace, as well as the ribbon.
Make sure the front of the dress is facing you. On the row that's closest to the edge of the form, lay a piece of string down the length of each side, making sure the string lines up with the row of squares. Then take your third string and lay it diagonally across the center, leaving free the last two squares from the bottom right side of the form.
Leave the strings there for a moment and place your lace directly over the smaller triangle the strings have made. Trim excess lace from the sides and bottom using the strings as a guide. You now have a lace triangle. Set it aside for now.
Now you'll need your ribbon. Starting at the left side of the form, locate the square between the two skirt knots. It should line up with the row your string is on. Tie an end of ribbon into a tight knot on that square.
Remove the string from the left side only and keeping track of the row, insert the loose end of ribbon under the bottom square, but on top of the tulle that's already been weaved through it.
Pull through excess ribbon and, taking the loose end again, insert it under the same square you just used. Pull through the excess, taking care not to twist the ribbon underneath the first ribbon. Don't pull the ribbon too tight, you will want a little space between the knots, creating what I call a little "bubble".
Now move up to the next square in your row and repeat the last two steps to wrap that square. Keep doing this up the entire left side of the dress until you've reached the top.
You can do this wrap to every square or skip as many as you want, but the more you skip, the bigger your "bubble" will be. Also you may notice that some of the squares you'll need are covered or blocked by the tulle - that's totally fine, just skip it and go on to the next. Not all of these will be perfectly even.
Now that you're at the top, study your diagonal row and keep track of it so you don't lose your place and continue wrapping, this time wrapping every other square until you've reached the bottom again.
Now you'll wrap those two "no string" squares along the waist and, just as you have been, wrap right up the right side of the dress, using your string guide until you've reached the top of the dress again. Tie your ribbon into a tight knot on the top of the band and cut off excess ribbon.
Next take your lace triangle and tuck the edges under the ribbon bubbles to determine where it should lay.
I seriously need to work on my sewing skills, so I chose to sew the lace on by sewing the edges under the bubbles, but making sure I did not sew through the ribbon. It doesn't need to be perfect, just enough to secure it. If you do not know how to sew, don't worry because you can simply glue it. Start by sliding a piece of wax paper between the dress and your form to prevent gluing the dress to the cardboard. Taking your fabric glue, apply a generous amount to that entire triangle area and press your lace into place, tucking the edges under the ribbon. Do not glue your ribbon down. Let dry completely according to package instructions.
Once the lace is secure, you can move on to the wrapping of the waist. With the back facing you, locate the bottom of the headband seam (it's probably hiding between tulle strips) and place your ribbon end under the seam. Working at a slight angle, push the ribbon end up through the space above that first knot (top skirt layer) and pull most of the length through, leaving about a ten inch tail loose.
Next take the ribbon end again and place it downwards, between the tulle strips and push the end back up through the space above the next knot.
Repeat this under and over pattern until you've reached the starting point again. Then tie your ends together into a tight knot and cut off excess ribbon. Save your ribbon scraps because you will be using them.
Now we can create the shoulder straps. You can choose to have both shoulders, one shoulder, halter, etc.
I chose to do both shoulders, with the ribbon crossing each other in the back and tied to secure. To do this, I just cut four long pieces of ribbon, but made two of them longer than the other two. Tie the ribbon about two inches from the edge of the form, making sure that they are even on both sides. Longer ones in front, shorter ones in back. To tie them, drape the longer ones back over the shoulder and cross them and push the ends under the strap knot and tie into a bow using the shorter straps. Cut any excess or leave the tails long. Your choice!
Now, let's wrap the top edge of the dress. You do this exactly the same way as you wrapped the waist. Start at the seam and wrap under the first tulle row and over the top edge of the dress until you've reached the start again. Tie ends into a knot and cut off excess ribbon.
Now all that's left to do is the fun stuff! The embellishments! Start by sliding wax paper between the dress and the form so you don't glue it to the cardboard.
Lay lay your flowers out however you like them. It helps to take a few pictures to remember your layout.
Once your layout is planned, Apply a big ol' glob of glue to the bottom of the flower and press into place wherever you want it to go. It helps if you stick a pin through the flower to hold it in place. Repeat this until you have your desired look. Allow to dry completely for best results. Once dry, you can remove the pins. You can also choose to sew the flowers onto the dress by sewing just the bottom petals, close to the middle, onto the dress. I chose to sew them on, which was very time consuming, but is a more secure hold, I think.
You can glue the flowers onto the skirt if you have a fabric backing, such as felt circles, which can be found at your craft store. If gluing, simply apply a glob of glue to the center of the felt circle and press both the tulle strip and the flower (and lace if using that too) onto the felt circle. Pin in place and allow to dry fully.
That's it! Your Garden Fairy tutu dress is now complete. I hope your little fairy princess loves it as much as my daughter loves hers!