A little note before my post: I apologize for everyone who has been unable to comment for the past week! (I wondered why most of you were so quiet.) I didn't realize that a setting had changed that required you to sign in to Facebook or Typepad to leave a comment. Thanks to several emails and one neighborly phone call, the problem is fixed, so comment away. I missed your notes so much!
All right. On with our previously scheduled craftiness.
Today we are off to a birthday party for a sweet little friend who is turning seven. Seven is an especially magical birthday as children enter the Seven Year Change, a remarkable transition from the early childhood of creative play to the older child's life of focus and work. Seven is big.
After we were invited the kids and I tossed around dozens of ideas of handmade gifts. Headbands and dolls were at the top of the list (though Sage kept suggesting we give her a Concord Jet. Don't ask. I have no idea.) and I was pulling for homemade hair ties (like the old school plastic ball ponytail holders, but made of rainbow wool roving needle felted onto the band) or perhaps a sewing kit (a repurposed metal tin stocked with fabric, needles, thread, and all the supplies needed for a child's hand-sewing projects).
But I was voted down, and headbands it was.
When we opened the fabric cupboard to choose our fabric Lupine spied a pile of tulle we have had in our stash forever. "A tutu!" She cried, laughing hysterically. I started laughing too, grateful to have a reason to laugh even if I wasn't sure what it was. The more laughter the better these days. Bring it.
So we laughed for a while and then decided that, yes, a tutu was way more fun than a headband. So we played parachute with tulle in our big family bed (random silliness is always a good idea too) and then we set to work.
A more straightforward project would be hard to come by. Skip the waistband and you could finish this project in 1/2 hour. It is flexible, so use what you have or look up a more step-by-step tutorial on-line. There are dozens out there.
Here is how we did it, in standard Rachel-Loosey-Goosey style:
With a rotary cutter and cutting mat we made 2" wide strips out of all of the tulle. It was a huge pile, but I did not measure the yardage. Six? Eight? Some such. We cut the strips twice as long as we wanted the tutu to be which happened to be the width of our yardage. The strips, when doubled over are approximately 2.5 feet long. I wanted the skirt to be long as it is for an older child.
I cut a long piece of elastic (to make the looping easier for Lupine) and knotted the ends together. Then we looped the tulle strips over the band. (To do this, start with the middle of the strip, lay it over the elastic, wrap the tails under the elastic and pull the tails through the hole. Slipknot!) Repeat in a random color assortment or a regular pattern, as shown below. I looped, Lupine pulled – over and over and over…
We looped the tulle until we ran out. (*Be sure to bite the elastic once in a while and peek through the fabric. That breaks up any monotony you might be feeling.) In all the looping took less than 1/2 hour.
Then for the sake of comfort I sewed on a waistband. (I hate the idea of a scratchy waist on a tutu. That does not inspire dancing or making fairy magic in my opinion.) I made a big wide pieces of bias tape from some cotton, twice the length of the child's waist. (I picked a lovely polka dot. Lupine picked gaudy stars. Since she was the one invited to the party she trumped me.) The final tape was 1 1/2 inches wide.
I schooched the tulle loops down towards one end of the elastic, spacing them sort of evenly and then pinned carefully sandwiching the looped ends of the tulle and the elastic inside the tape. I stitched along the edge being careful not to catch the elastic in the stitches. (Only once did I have to rip the whole thing out because those sneaky tails were crawling under my presser foot, uninvited. So watch out for that.)
Then I pulled the elastic tails and the whole waistband bunched up like a huge hair scrunchie. I stitched the elastic ends together and trimmed, then slid one end of the waistband into the other and sewed them together.
It turned out pretty darn sweet in my opinion, especially for such a quick project. If you think you don't have time to craft, wouldn't buying a gift have taken more than 20 minutes? Homemade is often imperfect, but we're not talking about a wedding dress. It's a tutu. For a child. Imperfect is perfect.
Really, what's not to love about a sparkly homemade tutu?
So we are off to the birthday party! Since homemade pizzas are on the menu we'll bring our own pizza crusts (made of hazelnut flour), and before bed I made another key lime pie to bring and share. That one is a sure winner with my little ones. Um, and me. Because along with the laughter and random sillyness, sweets are seeming pretty important right now, too.
Thinking happy tutu-clad thought today.