I've made several tulle tutus before, so I didn't go the simplest rout this time. Looking back, making one long tutu with elastic that held it up under the arms and a ribbon to tie around the waist probably would have looked just fine. But I wanted extra poofy/full skirt, so I complicated it a bit. My main inspiration was the No-Sew Tulle Cinderella Dress found at the blog Babblings and More, and the Pinterest Picture of the empire waist tutu dress found at CraftyGuides.com.
I also owe a special thanks to Julie at UpOwlNightCrafting for giving me some tips that helped an enormous amount. Julie makes beautiful American Girl sized clothes. You can find her at etsy here and facbook here.
Step 1: make two tutus, one longer than the other. I used two large rolls of light blue tulle (that I got for $2.50 each at Hobby Lobby) and it was just enough. (For faster and easier tulle cutting, use this idea!) Instead of using ribbons as the waist band, I bought 1 in (I think?) elastic. I measured it around Lady Bug and then went just a little bit smaller and overlapped the ends and sewed them together. Then I tied on the strips of tulle, using this tutorial from treasure for tots. That was the easy part.
Step 2: sew one tutu to the other. I found out the hard way that sewing a ribbon to the elastic when it's slack means it won't stretch. Rookie move, I know. So what I ended up doing, thanks to advice from Julie, was to stretch it over a basket and sew the ribbon on that way. Here's a hit that I didn't figure out until I was 3/4 done: keep adjusting the dress so that the area you are sewing is the open part. Otherwise it is much more difficult and slow going. What I did was put the shorter tutu on the lower part and the longer tutu above it. They had the same number of strips, so that made it easy to line up. I then sewed it like a sandwich: ribbon, top tulle layer, waistband of bottom layer. The ribbon isn't nearly as smooth looking as I would have liked, but it worked and it looks pretty.
Step 3: sew on hip poofs and sleeves. For the hip poofs I folded over some white tulle I already had and then gathered one edge and sewed it under the ribbon to the tulle. For the shoulder "sleeves" I only did two layers and sewed it under the tulle.
I made this dress knowing she would need to be wearing things under it. I put it over a long-sleeved onsie/bodysuit that I already had, and when we leave the house to go to the movie she will also be wearing white leggins or tights. For her hair I used a small bow for the front hair and put as much of her hair as I could in a little pony tail that I then used another bow to give it an "updo" look. (I won't be using pink when we go out.)
Here are some other angles of the dress.
Did I forget any detail, or was it unclear? Leave a message with a comment and I'll answer your questions!
Over all this dress took several hours to make. Most of that was the hand-sewing around the waist. It can be made easily in a few kid free hours, or a kid filled weekend. There's still time before the movie comes out to make it! Everything together cost about $10. The blue tulle I got two spools of 6 in wide, 25 feet. The white didn't take much at all, and a $1 spool from Walmart would be enough. The ribbon I got by the spool for $1.96 or something like that, and I used most of it. Most of the elastic was used, too, though I recommend getting a less wide band. Maybe 3/4 inches? It was easy enough for a rookie sewer, once I realized my mistakes. If you use this tutorial, I'd love to hear how it turned out!