Before you go and buy a cheap, or expensive, costume or dressups for your child, have a quick think about how you could make it yourself. There are often easy, affordable and fun ways to achieve the look you or your child wants.
I spotted the lady behind the counter in our local fabric shop throwing Easter skirts together with absolutely no sewing required! She was selling them for $10, “I could do that,” I thought, “and better!”
So I did. With just a teeny bit of sewing.
You will need:
- A couple of metres of tulle (net) in the colour of your choice.
- A matching or contrasting t-shirt.
- A length of broad elastic for the waistband.
- Any extras you can pick up at your nearest craft store, dollar store or similar. Beads, hair accessories, brooches, necklaces etc. Don’t forget you can pull things apart and re-purpose them!
- Some cotton thread.
You don’t actually have to use tulle, you could cut up an old dress or shirt, use up left over fabric from another project etc. The beauty of tulle, though, is that it doesn’t fray, so no need to hem. But if you have pinking shears (which decrease the chance of fraying) you can try anything!
Decide how long you want the skirt to be, and measure your fabric to double that length. Fold or roll the fabric lengthwise and then cut your strips. Don’t make them too narrow (I did!) as wider is almost more effective, and takes less time. I’d recommend a minimum of 4cm wide, but up to 8cm works really well. Narrower strips gives you a wafty look, wider strips is a little more frou-frou. The stiffness of your fabric makes a difference, too. Net sticks out more, while soft tulle is fluffier, and better a little wider.
Unfold or unroll your strips, match the ends together and round them or cut to points, as you prefer. Or just leave square – it’s up to you and how you want your finished skirt to look!
This is what you want to end up with.
Then you do this… Fold a strip in half and take the centre of the strip in a loop like so:
And pop the ends through and pull it tight like this:
I’m not sure what this kind of knot is called. Apparently (according to Google) it might be a Cow’s Hitch or a Lark’s Head. The husb used to be a kiting geek and would know, but is out to dinner with his mother and siblings so not present to be grilled on the matter. Whatever, it’s a handy dandy easy way to get a really great fairy skirt without doing sewing!
I prefer to work with my waistband elastic out flat, like in the pictures, but you can sew it into a waist-sized hoop before you start if you prefer. Either sew the ends together, secure with a good safety-pin, or tie in a firm knot (sewing makes it more comfy for the wearer).
Repeat, repeat and repeat until you have filled the skirt almost to the ends of the waistband with your ‘Lark’s Headed’ tuille strips.
And bingo! A fairy skirt.
Next take the t-shirt and cut it. As you can see in the photos, I chose to cut zig-zag shapes out of the bottom of the t-shirt, I also cut the sleeves in a similar way. For one costume I cut the bottom at an angle to create a point on one side. If you have a more baggy t-shirt, you might want to cut a little way up one side seam so that you can tie a knot to keep the bottom of the t-shirt tight to the body (this is simple & very effective too).
For the wings, you could buy a set of fairy wings. But if children are wearing the costume to a party, I find that those kinds of wings really get in the way. This is a neat alternative where the wings are smaller and sewn onto the t-shirt.
First work out how wide the wings are going to be – about as wide as the back of the t-shirt, then cut two shapes like so… (two layers looks best, make one a little larget than the other for a good look) then thread a needle and sew a line of running stitch up the centre line to keep the two layers together and enable you to gather them.
The simply place the wings where you want them on the back of the t-shirt and sew on. I did this by hand, with lots of stitches through the centre, and a few carefully placed ones around the edges of the wings. But if you prefer you can sew all the way around the edge and through the centre by hand or with a sewing machine.
I also purchased matching accessories at our local $2 store. Cheap bracelets and necklaces can be great sources of beads for pretty and funky details. I took one apart for a different costume. This blue outfit was a gift, and I left the bracelet in tact as an accessory, but I found something else with a matching sparkly bow that I pulled off and stitched onto the t-shirt. It’s easy to add things to plan hair clips too, to make them more interesting. You can sew or stick on bows, beads, dangly bits etc.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the finished article! I was so pleased to have it ready to take to a party as a present for my neighbour’s daughter. (I don’t usually give such lovingly handmade gifts, I’m afraid! This particular neighbour had been very kind during some difficult times. Plus her daughter is especially cute an a lovely playmate for my own girls 🙂 ).
I made a green ‘Tinkerbell‘ outfit for my eldest with this lovely sparkly tuillle.
I chose a lovely purple with a delicate sparkle in it for my youngest, and ‘adapted’ an old mauve t-shirt she had by sewing a strip of the tuille around the bottom of the t-shirt leaving the ends long, so they could be tied in a bow. It looked lovely. (Since her sister was ‘Tinkerbell’ she wanted to know who the purple fairy was. We discovered the Disney fairy ‘Vidia’ – I just hope she doesn’t get that attitude!)
When Tinkerbell decided she wanted to wear her skirt out and about, I made it more decent by adding an underskirt. I used a green t-shirt (actually it was her top, but I wasn’t happy with how I’d cut it – it was my first one! So I sacrificed it for the underskirt and made her a new top).
All I did was cut it like so:
Then I pinned it inside the skirt to the wasteband, and sewed around with my machine. Worked brilliantly.
You might also enjoy my article on making a quick ‘holiday’ dolls’ house for your kids using a beer box (or other cardboard box you find you have to hand when you’re on holiday).