Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Abby Costume Tutorial - Just in time for Halloween

As I mentioned before, we try to keep TV to a minimum at our house (at least while Hannah's awake), and her one viewing hour a day is usually Sesame Street. She LOVES Abby. I mean, loves her, as only an almost-two-year-old can. Hannah's Abby doll goes everywhere with us, from the grocery store to the doctor's office to church. We decided that Hannah's upcoming birthday party should be Abby-themed, and then decided to do one better and keep the fun going for Halloween in four more weeks.

So being me, I decided to make her an Abby costume. It's really just a glorified tutu, but it is rather pretty. I finished it while Hannah was napping, and put in on the couch beside beloved Abby doll. When Hannah saw it, she lit up like a thousand-watt bulb and said, "It just like the same! Hannah have just like the same as Abby!" It was pretty cute.

So I wanted to share with you how to make the skirt. Like I said, it is really a tutu with some extra "petals," but I searched to the end of the Internet and couldn't find another tutorial for an Abby costume, so I thought I'd add this to cyberspace. This is the first tutorial I've ever written, so I hope it make sense. If not, please let me know, and I'll try to explain things better.

One note about the pictures: I didn't take any while I was sewing the actual skirt, so these pictures are of different fabric, which I didn't actually sew together. I hope the changes in colors aren't too confusing.

  1. 1/2 yard of sparkle fabric (if you were in a hurry, or on a budget, you could omit this layer, but as you'll see later, it makes for a nice, reversible skirt)
  2. one yard of purple tulle (you could also use pink)
  3. two yards of blue tulle
  4. 1/2yard of chiffon-ish blue fabric for the petals
  5. 1/2 inch no-roll elastic, cut to 2 inches longer than your child's waist
The first layer is the sparkle material. This takes two steps to hem (and this is the most complicated part). First, make a narrow hem on the bottom of each long edge. (Note: I didn't hem the bottom of my original fabric because it doesn't fray. As you can see, the fabric in this picture is already fraying, so I would hem this.) Second, fold the fabric lengthwise, RIGHT sides together. Sew the short sides together, making the fabric into a tube. Press, if it's the kind of fabric that can be pressed. (Don't melt your sparkles!) Turn it right side out, then fold the skirt in half lengthwise with the right sides facing out.

I used two layers of tulle. This was mostly because I bought the fabric for this project on sale in July, when the whole idea of Halloween was just a fuzzy notion, and I was standing in the fabric shop at 9 PM trying to remember what Abby looked like. So I came home with one yard of purple tulle and two yard so blue tulle. It came out like this:

First, fold the purple tulle in half lengthwise, being careful to match the long edges (good luck!) Next, fold this unit into thirds. This will give you six layers of tulle. Being careful to match all the top edges, pin the top of the tulle to the top (folded) edge of the sparkle fabric.

The blue tulle is done in much the same way. Fold it in half lengthwise, and then fold that into thirds, giving you six layers. Since you have two yards of blue, you have to gather it to make it fit. I made sort of pin tucks across the top of the skirt (along the fold of the sparkle fabric). As you can see from all the pins, these were about every inch.

Now you have a three-layer skirt with a LOT of pins in it: first the sparkle fabric, then the purple tulle, then the gathered blue tulle. Sew the whole thing together one inch from the top of the skirt, leaving a two-inch part unfinished for the elastic. You now have a nice casing for the elastic.

So what makes this Abby-ish, rather than just a fun dress-up skirt (which it could also be, by the way) is the fairy petals. If you wanted to get fancier - and even more Abby - you could add a second row of pink petals on top. Like I said, 9 PM at the fabric store = only blue petals.

I drew a petal shape free-hand on stiff paper, then pinned it to the uncut fabric, which was folded in half lengthwise with the right sides together. Next, sew around the pattern, leaving an opening to turn the petal right side out. Then, cut it out, leaving a 1/4 inch seam. Turn right side out and press (again, don't melt it).

Pin the petals to the skirt at even intervals, and sew along your 1 inch hem. (Don't sew through the middle of the elastic casing.) I made seven petals out of my half yard of fabric, and used six of them on the skirt.

Last, measure your little one's waist, and cut a piece of elastic about 2 inches longer. Insert the elastic through the casing, using a safety pin fastened to the end to help pull it through, gather the extra fabric as you go. If you're going to be very nice and meticulous about this, you would sew a rectangle through both ends of the elastic to hold it together, and hand finish the gap in the seam. I am not this way. I'm a lazy mom who wants this skirt to last for a long time. So I made the elastic about 5 inches too long, pinned it to fit with the same safety pin I used to pull it through, and left the gap open. Now I can make the (slightly unfinished) skirt bigger as Hannah grows.

The skirt will gather nicely. Of course, Hannah's a little bitty thing. If you were making this skirt for an older child, it would not gather as much, but you could always add to the width.

And here it is again.

Lazy/resourceful mom trick number two (and you thought I was wasting fabric by using the good stuff on the inside of the skirt!). Turn it inside out, and you have a fun sparkle dress-up skirt that's filled with 12 layers of tulle. Go sparkle-mushroom-princess!

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