Friday, May 20, 2011

Tutorial: The Americana Hannah Tutu Skirt

I love to dress my two daughters in seasonal, holiday-inspired clothes. It's fun and festive, the girls get very excited to celebrate, and I think it makes the holidays even more special. Since I'm all about saving a dime or two, I was looking for a penny wise way to create a star-spangled tutu like the one I saw in Gymboree a few days ago. To make matters even more fun, my dear friend was visiting the States from Denmark. She has a daughter named Hannah who is 4 years old just like mine, so we went to work to make some truly American tutus.

Sorry the photo is bad! A new camera is on my list of things I really need.

I've always wanted to compose a tutorial for my projects, but I get going with the scissors and the thread and I forget to take photos along the way.
Here's my best (and first!) effort at instructions on how to make this cute skirt. I'm very sorry it doesn't include photos. Please leave a comment if you have any questions. I'd love to hear from you!

We hit JoAnn Fabric and purchased two navy blue fabrics from the Casa Collection, both in shimmery smooth and glittery finishes. Our original plan was to add red tulle between the layers of blue, but that ended up looking a little freakish. At the last minute (oh, how I despise those long lines at the cutting table at JoAnn...but it gives me time to think of more fabric that I just have to buy...a ploy, perhaps?), we saw some completely gaudy, red-white-and-blue-striped mesh complete with silver foil stars. I had my doubts at first, but my very stylish friend convinced me we could add a few random strips of it amid the navy blue and it'd look cute. We bought that too, and soon we were on our way. After stops more stops at Walmart and Hobby Lobby (I'll drive all over town to find a good deal...ha!), we were all set.

Two hours later, we had a super-cute, inexpensive tutu worthy of a 21-gun salute.
Here's my kind-of tutorial for the Americana Hannah Tutu Skirt in a size 4/5. The pattern is very forgiving, so it's easy to adjust for waist size and length.

Fabric (all 45" wide):
1/2 yard satin
1/2 yard tulle
1/4 yard shimmery smooth Casa Collection fabric
1/4 yard glittery Casa Collection fabric
1/4 yard stars and stripes mesh
1.5 yards 3/4" knit elastic
3 yards single row sequins
Thread to match fabric and sequins

Cut the piece of satin from 1/2 yard down to your desired finished skirt length plus 2.5". Since I wanted my skirt to be 12" long, I went with 14.5". Serge the short edges together to make a big loop, and serge around the entire top and bottom to make sure there is no potential for fraying. Once finished, you'll have a loop that is 14.5"x22" when laid flat.

Next, lay out the tulle (folded in half to make a 4-layer strip of 9x45" tulle). On top of that, lay the shimmery, smooth fabric. Then add the mesh, and finally, the sparkle fabric. You should have yourself a great looking stack of fabric.

Serge along the long top edge of the whole stack, then bring the ends together (right sides facing each other), and serge the short ends together to make a loop like the satin one. Turn the loop of layered fabric right side out and add the single-row sequins to the very top layer of sparkle fabric. Be sure to sew in the same direction the sequins lie or you'll have a big mess on your hands. It should be looking fabulous already!

The tricky part comes next: Take the satin loop and iron one of the serged seams so it folds inward, toward the wrong side of the satin. Then, iron the other seam the other way, so it folds toward the shiny side of the satin. Confused? Sorry! Basically, one seam folds to the wrong side and the other seam folds opposite. Hem the seam that was folded toward the shiny side and that becomes the bottom of the skirt. Then, fold the other seam (folded toward the wrong side) down two more inches and iron. This becomes the shiny, satin waistband of the skirt.

So, this means that the exposed waistband (the two-ish inches that were folded down and ironed) are shiny. The rest of the shiny side is on the inside of the skirt. This is okay because the layered fabric covers the exposed dull side that ends up facing out. As a bonus, the skirt feels silky against the skin, which all three girls loved!

Add the layered fabric to the satin: First, lay the layered tube on the table with the seam toward you (this is the back of the skirt). Take the satin tube and place it inside the layered tube, also with the seam toward you. Line up the seams and the bottom of edges of both tubes. Then, carefully fold the pre-ironed waistband portion of the satin tube over the serged top edge of the layered tube. Pin it down in several places and use two pins on either side of the seam to remind yourself to leave an opening for the elastic to be threaded through the casing. Top stitch around the tube to secure all of the layers together, being sure to keep your needle about 1/8" from the edge of the folded portion.

Once finished, move your fabric over 1 inch and sew another seam right through the middle of the waistband, thus dividing the whole waistband into two almost-1-inch casings. Measure the waist of whoever will wear the skirt, cut two strips of elastic to that measurement, and thread it through both casings. Sew the ends of each strip of elastic together (be sure the elastic isn't twisted inside the casing), then stretch the elastic to smooth out the fabric while you stitch the casings closed. Ta da! All finished! I recommend hand washing and hanging to dry to preserve the crisp nature of the tulle.

Now put your tutu skirt on an adorable, sparkly, and patriotic little girl. She'll be Yankee-Doodle dandy and all set for Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day.

Good luck and happy sewing!

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