Teaching your daughter how to sew and design her own clothes is a great way to save money in this economy on expensive fashion items. Sewing machine projects are a fun and cheap alternative to spending your money on over-priced clothing from the mall — and your kids can join in the fun too! After all, Mom shouldn’t be the only one with some style, right? Kids want to be fashionable, too, and the hottest trend in kids and pre-teen clothing is the ballerina-style tulle skirt. Even fashion designers like Stella McCartney are now designing tulle skirts for kids, and retail prices can run up to $30 or more.
For an alternative to these retail prices, try this no-pattern sewing machine project with your daughter:
- Visit your local fabric store and purchase a couple of yards of tulle. Bright neon and pastel colors are popular for young pre-teen girls, so consider hot pink, yellow, orange, and lime green. Each yard of tulle is pretty cheap and only costs about $1-3 (depending on the store). Purchase a half yard of cotton in a color that matches the tulle, and don’t forget a zipper.
- Here’s how to cut your fabric without using a pattern. Measure your daughter’s correct skirt length and width by using a measuring tape along her waist and legs. After taking each measurement (remember to leave an extra 1 inch on each side for the seams), mark the fabric with straightpins where it should be cut. Let your daughter cut out 4 of the same exact sizes, so that you have 2 pieces front-and-back for the outside layer, and 2 pieces front-and-back for the inside layer.
TIP: You can add volume to the final product by using more inside layers. Just cut out additional matching pieces of the tulle to sew in.
- Have your daughter set the pieces of tulle to the side and prepare to cut the cotton fabric. Again, take measurements of the width of her waist, and use about 6 inches for the length. Use straightpins to mark the cotton where it should be cut. Let your daughter cut out 2 matching layers of cotton to create the waistband portion of her skirt.
- To create the seams for the waistband, fold down the extra 1 inch from one side and tuck it under a second time to mask the raw edges, so that your seam is now really 1/2 inch. Use straightpins to hold down the edges, and use the sewing machine to sew in the thread. Do this for both pieces of the cotton you’re using for waistband.
- Make sure the cotton pieces are inside out for this part. Sew together the edges of the layers of tulle that were cut out in #1 to the pieces that were cut out in #4. At this point, the waistband should be attached to the skirt (left to right) and the fabric should still be inside out. Repeat for both pieces. Then sew together a full seam on one side from top to bottom on one side. The other side should be sewn in halfway, so that there is room to add in the zipper.
- Use straightpins to neatly align the zipper with the open fabric, then use the sewing machine to sew in the zipper.
- Cut away all the stray thread, turn the skirt right side out, and it’s completed ballerina-style tulle skirt.
Estimated cost for fabric and zipper: less than $10.
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