My family had a delayed Christmas this year, as my brother’s family was in the process of moving to another country in March and planning a trip to my parent’s house in February. I wanted to make my little niece something, but fit can be hit or miss when you can’t measure her yourself, so I decided to make her a costume where fit is adjustable.

I decided that for my gift, I’d find her a book (which she loves to read) and make a costume related to a character in it. I ran across a lovely young children’s version of ‘The Nutcracker’, where you can play small soundbites from the musical (no bad synthesizer music here!).

The Nutcracker, Sugarplum Fairey, musicI thought my niece would love the Sugarplum Fairy ballerina costume, so I worked on making her a version of it.

Since I’d never made a tutu before, I decided to look on the internet and ran across these instructions from Rookie Mag. It seemed to be in line with what I needed, as I was working with a roll of organza (softer than tulle) and I wanted to use ribbons (more adjustable than elastic).

I measured out 20″ for her waist and then added and tied off 18″ at each end for the bow.

ribbon, tutuI decided that 6-7″ from the waist would be a good length, so the doubled length of the organza strips needed to be 13-14″. I folded and pinned the organza selvedge to selvedge and then folded again, and found the folded length to be 13″ (perfect!) and pinned it. I cut the organza into 3″ strips with a rotary cutter, then cut the unfolded 26″ strips down to 13″.

tutu, organzaI found that I wasn’t getting enough coverage for the skirt with just a few strips looped together, so each loop has 5 strips of organza. I ended up using 5 yards in total to get the coverage and length of tutu that I wanted.

To add a bit of sparkle, like in the illustration of Sugarplum fairy, I decided to look for an embroidered piece of fabric for an overlay. I found a beaded embroidered netting, sewed it to another waist ribbon, pleated the waist (so it can be let out later, if needed) and cut the netting away from the bottom of the appliques to give the skirt more freedom and drape over the tutu.


I think the tutu went over well! She likes twirling, especially if she can see how the tutu moves in the mirror. Of course, I should’ve known how super observant my niece was, and that she was clearly missing the golden wand that the fairy had in the book. Bad auntie! Haha. Oh well, next time kiddo…