Tinkerbell

forest fairy costume

June’s challenge for Project Run & Play is dress-up dresses, with an Elsa and Cinderella dress tutorial from Kiki & Company. My Disney heroine of choice would be Mulan, but given that S has recently forsaken her former name and started insisting that everyone (and I mean everyone) calls her Tinkerbell at all times (yes even at 5.45 in the morning), a costume for a tempestuous miniature fairy seemed to be a preordained choice. Disney’s version of Tinkerbell has a costume that’s great if you want to dress up like a 50’s pin-up but not so great for a 2 yr old, so with the more ethereal woodland pixie of the book in mind I drew inspiration from some wider sources – other illustrations of Tinkerbell, plus the flower fairy illustrations of Mabel Lucy Attwell.photo

I liked the layerable options of the original tutorial, as it’s something I always find works for costumes, allowing them to be mixed and matched and reinvented. With this in mind I decided to make a simple dress as the base layer, something that could be worn on its own as a simple costume or just for everyday. To create that woodland pixie feel I got H involved and we dip-dyed some cotton lawn (and some left over cotton embroidered tulle) with olive green hand dye. (We used the left over dye to experiment with tie dye using loom bands and old pyjama bottoms too). As I’d never tried dip-dyeing before I decided to dye the fabric before making the dress, rather than after, in case it all went horribly wrong. Once dry I used another pattern from my new favourite pattern book – Everyday Clothes for Girls,  lengthening and adding extra volume to the front and back pieces of a tunic pattern with puffed sleeves. The pattern seemed a great choice as the design features a slightly elasticised neckline, removing the need for any closures and making it easy to take on and off.Dip dye ombre sundress for little girl

The only other adaption I made to the design was to add belt loops half way down the side seams so the dress can also be worn with a waist tie for even more versatility. H enjoyed the dip-dyeing and is so envious of the final result that I’ve got a feeling will be repeating the process (but maybe in blue) very soon.DSC_0863Dip dye ombre sundress for little girl

So, on it’s own a lovely summer dress, or teamed with some wings a simple Tinkerbell or flower fairy costume.

The next layer used the left over dip-dyed cotton, the dyed embroidered tulle and some small pieces of white and cream satin to create a leafy/petally overskirt.

DSC_9964

I cut a series of petal shapes – the largest ones in white and cream reducing in size to the smallest ones in the darkest shade of the dyed cotton and finished the edges using the rolled hem function on the overlocker. Once completed I layered them up to mimic the ombre effect of the dress (or a flower)and sewed them into place on a strip of cotton double the width of S’s waist measurement. I then folded the strip of fabric over and gathered with elastic to form the waistband. With all the layers of petals/leaves the waistband turned out to be a little bulky, in retrospect in may have worked better to have attached some of the layers in the style of a tiered ruffle skirt.

Homemade flower fairy/tinkerbell tutu skirt

diy tinkerbell costume with overskirt2

The skirt can be worn over the dress, teamed with a t-shirt or even over the tulle skirt I made S for Christmas.

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I also attached petals to the top of a bodice section which I made following this month’s tutorial. I had my reservations about using the suggested method with a woven fabric but really wanted it to match with everything else so pushed ahead and then struggled to make it work -perhaps partly because S is still more toddler shaped. Initially the bodice turned out too big to stay up, so I added a halterneck but it still hung awkwardly so I made it slightly narrower. It now fits snuggly but she complains it is too tight and refuses point blank to put it on. Luckily the underdress turned out so prettily there is really no need of it.DSC_0875

Next up, and my favourite bit ( if a little laborious) were the fairy wings. Pink (by request) but in an ombre way to match the rest of the costume. To make the wings I followed a brilliant tutorial by Martha Boers that I found on her site Antique Lilac. Finding her tutorial was one of those ‘why I love the internet’ affirmation moments – in the past I have only thought of stretching wings round a perimeter wire, but these wings are given structure by sewing wire on at the end as veins. The other great thing about the design is they are just made up of scraps of left over fabric and yarn so there is no need for any extra materials (well not when your craft cupboard is as full as mine anyway).

DIY fairy wings

Again H was to keen to help so I got her assistance tracing my wing patterns, snipping up and laying out fabric scraps and with some of the initial stitching.

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I drifted slightly from the tutorial in places adding a layer of fusible web – partly to help hold all the bits of fabric in place before sewing but mainly because as the fabrics were so sheer I wanted to add a bit more structure to help prevent my machine from eating rather than sewing. I also got a bit more heavy handed with the painting phase adding a thin wash all over and splashing with a grey wash.DSC_0858  DSC_0856

I really like all the textures created by the scraps of fabric sandwich by tulle, the layers of stitching and the flecks of paint but my favourite bit is that because many of the fabrics are so sheer, the wings look completely different with the light behind them.DIY fairy wings

The wings were made in two parts, an upper and lower piece, bound together at the end with a strip of cream satin and made wearable with a couple of simple elastic shoulder loops.

homemade fairy wings

Finally, to complete the flower fairy/Tinkerbell ensemble a made-up-as-I-went-along crocheted floral headband.

crocheted headband with flowers

home made flower fairy costume

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61 thoughts on “Tinkerbell

    1. The only thing that takes time is the extra stitching (embroidery) and changing threads and bobbin threads, but really you only have to do as much of that as you like. Really I found it pretty straightforward. I covered the end s of the wires I used with duct tape before stitching them in to try and prevent them from coming out (or from being to spikey if they did). I’d say just go for it, I was really surprised with how satisfying it was – so I’m sure you will be too!

  1. This has completely blown my mind! So much detail, love & care! The entire outfit is SO beautiful and while I usually take inspiration from such things I feel the urge to recreate it for Eddie! This is so amazing, you’re amazing!!

  2. Oh my goodness Toya this whole outfit is stunning. You are SO clever. I really want to make some wings like that but they’d never be as nice as yours!! This is a million times better than shop bought costumes! Lucky little girl.

    1. You should definitely give them a try, you can always give me a shout if you have trouble, but I’m sure you will make them beautifully!

  3. The outfit is amazing and I would like to attempt it at some point. My daughter is only a baby just now but I might make and put away until she can fit it. I have found where to buy Everyday Clothes for Girls on UK amazon but I was wondering if it is easy to use given that it is Japanese?

    1. I was a little worried when I ordered it, but was pleasantly surprised. Page numbers, and letters to find the pattern pieces are in english. Sizes are in metric although you might need to do a little puzzling to work out which is chest, waist and height. As to how easy it is to use, I would guess that would depend on your sewing experience and confidence level. All the methods (bar 1 or 2 in photos) are illustrated step by step with very clear diagrams – obviously unless you read japanese the annotations are not helpful but I’ve only come across one or two places where I’ve been confused. Having a reasonable amount of experience of construction methods definitely helps though, I think it might prove a frustrating experience for a beginner. So far I have used 4 of the patterns and made 7 garments which is testament to what a great (and great value) book I think it is.

  4. I am currently in the process of making fairy wings from the tutorial you did, and so glad I cam across your site as I was unsure if I wanted to put any wire along the edges to have them keep form. Yours look exactly how I would like mine to look (only orange and blue theme), so I will use the tip on using fusible web (genuis!), but wanted to know if you used the wire along the edges as well as veins. Also, what gauge did you use, if you know.

    1. Hi Katy, I didn’t use wire along the edges, just the veins – which definitely helps in keeping them looking delicate. It does mean that over the course of a day wearing them they can get a little crumpled, but I think they still look nice, and they can be easily straightened out again. Unfortunately I don’t remember what gauge the wire was. It was galvanised garden wire and probably about 2mm in diameter. I also covered the ends in duct tape before I sewed them in to stop them poking out and from being so sharp if they did. Good luck I’m sure they’ll turn out great!

  5. Such a beautiful and delicate outfit! I was stressing out trying to make butterfly wings for my daughter’so butterfly costume and so happy I came across your site for inspiration. Can I ask ifor you had hand stitiched over the wires? Or with your sewing machine?

    1. So sorry I seemed to have missed your comment and I’m guessing you were working on Halloween costume so Im too late now!! But yes I did machine stitch (zigzag) on the wire, albeit slowly and carefully.

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