When Ella turned 3, we bought her a tutu. It was just the cute little thing you might have seen before at Target. She wore it two times. The first time she wore it was for exactly the minute and a half it took to put it on while we took her picture. Notice how she's wearing the perfect birthday ensemble of half pajamas, half daytime clothes.
The second time she wore it, she put it on all by herself. This is 9 months after she opened it for her birthday. And I think this time she wore it just long enough to do 3 twirls and get her picture taken. Notice how well it goes with an all-pajama ensemble.
Last year I made Ella a tutu for her 4th birthday. I was happier about it than she was. She wore it for the first hour and that was it. But I had faith in that little tutu, so we kept it around.
And then, this past winter, she gained a new appreciation for tutu-wearing. She wanted to wear here tutu everywhere - the store, school, around the house...
She wanted to wear it to preschool on Christmas party day. Prepare yourself for a detour.
I LOVE when I am able to go to school with my kids on special days.
On Christmas party day we played baby dolls:
And she used the letter tiles to spell out our names:
And guess who showed up?
And Mrs. Claus!
But the most beautiful part of Christmas party day came at the end. I asked her what she liked best about the day. I expected her to say when she watched the ballerinas perform an interactive version of The Nutcracker. Or when she got to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. Or when she got a candy cane. Or when the class got to eat Happy Birthday Jesus cake.
Nope. Her favorite part of the day was when I played baby dolls with her.
Here is my heart, child. It is all yours.
Back to the tutu! Since Ella has found a new appreciation for tutu-wearing, she decided that she would need one with a different color combo, specifically Red, Purple, Pink. And as soon as she decided that she needed another one, she reminded me almost every day. Red, Purple, Pink. Red, Purple, Pink. Red, Purple, Pink.
Her 5th birthday was coming up, so I went to JoAnn Fabrics, armed with my 40% off coupon, and picked up some Red, Purple, and Pink tulle. But the red was QUITE garish. The tag just said red, but I call it Whore Red. Yep, I said it. But if baby girl wants Red, Purple, Pink, she's getting it, darn it! I just needed to tone down the Whore Red a little, so I ended up getting 5 yards red, 5 yards purple, and 10 yards pink for a whopping total of 20 yards of tulle. I couldn't remember how much tulle I used for Ella's first tutu, but now that I've made the Red, Purple, Pink one with the 20 yards of tulle, I can tell you I definitely didn't use that much. I can guess the first one was probably about 10 yards. I think somewhere between 10 and 15 yards is probably perfect. The 20 yards made a beautifully crazy full tutu. It's nice, but it's excessive.
I'm not even going to try to pretend that I can give you a decent tutorial for making a tutu. This isn't a tutorial. It is more of a "If I can do it, you can do it" pep talk.
I would suggest you check out the Feels Like Home and Mom Dot blogs for excellent tutu tutorials. I also watched this video about 10 times before I started. I didn't follow any of the tutorials exactly, but I kind took it all in and then decided how to make mine.
I bought 20 yards of tulle, 3 yards of matching satin ribbon, and 1-inch elastic.
I cut the elastic 1 inch smaller than the size of Ella's waist. All the tutu blog tutorials will tell you to do this. I know it will take some mental strength to cut elastic smaller than what you need. It makes no sense! But as you start tying on the tulle, the elastic will stretch out quite a bit. I hand-stitched it together. I don't sew. This right here is a major accomplishment for me.
I folded each color of tulle in half length-wise. When I taught school we called it Folding It Hot Dog style. Then I cut along the fold to make the width 27 inches. (Because when you knot the tulle later, you'll be folding it in half again.) Then I rolled my two long strips up Hot Dog. So, for the 5 yards of purple, I had a 5-yard-long roll.
And then I cut off the end pieces and threw them in the trash. Yep. And then I cut 3 inch pieces all the way down the rolled up tulle. Don't measure. You'll drive yourself crazy and it's unnecessary. They just need to be around the same size. Go watch this video for some awesome cutting instructions.
Then I tied the pieces of tulle in little slip-type knots onto the elastic. For each of my knots I layered 3 pieces of tulle, folded them in half, and then tied them to the elastic. Go here for awesome tutu knot-tying pictures.
I covered the elastic and still had a ton of tulle left over, so I ended up covering each knot with another 3 pieces of tulle.
Then I took my pink satin ribbon and wrapped it around each knot. Ella has an itty bitty waist, but I still used the entire 3 yards of ribbon. It's a lot of wrapping! Then I tied the ends of the ribbon into a pretty bow.
I think it's beautiful. But the true test is how my little girl feels when she wears it. After she opened it on her birthday, we went out to dinner. She picked out this outfit all by herself. I love it! And notice how big brother Peyton is helping out by carrying her purple Tinker Bell pail for her. So sweet!
And Ella says that when she wears it, she feels like a beautiful ballerina. I couldn't agree more.