Simple DIY Toddler Dress-Up Outfits

Happy New Year!  It’s January, so we really should leave the holiday glitz behind and get busy organizing our closets, our cupboards, and our lives.

Or . . . we can start the New Year on a lighter note.  Want to see the silly little dress-up outfits that I made for my niece?  Sure you do.

Learning By Dressing

I was happily surprised when “dress-up items” appeared on the list of things my niece would enjoy for Christmas.  Even though she is a small toddler, apparently she likes to experiment with outfits and jewelry.  But at her age, she’s not trying to look like a princess.  She’s just using dress-up activities as a learning game.

So I thought it would be fun to pull a few things together for her.  But the ready-made dress-up costumes that I found – ones that were within my budget anyway – all had three issues:  They weren’t available in her tiny size, they looked cheaply made, and they looked stiff and uncomfortable.

So I decided to make her some dress-up outfits.  My sewing skills are pretty much limited to straight seams, so these little outfits would have to be simple.

Not Reinventing the Wheel

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I intended to sew a few tutus, but then I came across some lovely tutus in her size at Macy’s.  They were on sale, plus I had a coupon.  Sewing my own would have been more costly than buying them.

One of the tutus from Macy’s

The inside linings are very soft, so these tutus seem comfortable to wear and easy to pull up over leggings or even pants.

I bought two and added my own embellishments.  Using pom pom trim and torn strips of batik fabric (both left over from previous projects), I gave one tutu a colorful, zany look.  I added tulle flower trim to the other one for a classic ballerina look.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Tutus

I found a simple white sweater at a thrift store.  It looked almost new, and perhaps had never been worn at all.

Child's sweater from thrift shop

Such a cute little sweater.  I almost felt bad about what I had planned for it.

I washed it and added zany embellishments that complement the colorful tutu.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Embellished sweater

The strips of gathered tulle fabric sewn over the sleeves resemble little wings – or a cape.  She can use her imagination.

Reinventing the Wheel – Badly

I wanted to make a lined velvet cape to go with the ballerina tutu.  I don’t have much patience for following sewing patterns, so I thought it would be faster if I just cut fabric into a big circle and then chopped away at the circle until I had the form I wanted.

But was I ever wrong.  I almost gave up several times because the slippery, stretchy, velvety fabric I used was so hard to work with.  The cape, while cute at first glance, is definitely not my best sewing effort.


But oh well, it’s just for playing dress-up.

Felt Headbands

My niece visited us early in December, and I waited until she stopped running around for a moment to quickly measured the circumference of her head.

I used interfacing to create a basic headband form.

The pin was removed after the form was correctly sized and sewn together.

I made two of these forms.  Then I covered each one with felt fabric and embellishments to make comfortable but (hopefully) durable headbands.

One is colorful and wacky, the other classic with the same pink tulle flowers used on the ballerina tutu.

Jewelry and Pouches

I bought a couple of inexpensive children’s necklaces and sewed a simple pouch to hold each necklace.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Purchased necklaces with home made pouches

Vintage Gloves

My niece has lots of shoes, but I knew she needed gloves.  No dress-up ensemble is complete without them.

I purchased a little stack of vintage children’s gloves for a very reasonable price from a vendor on 

Vintage gloves from Etsy vendor

While not in perfect condition, they looked and smelled fresh upon arrival.  Even so, I soaked and hand washed them in mild soap and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide.

The sizes varied.  I added the pair that she can wear now to her dress-up items.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Vintage gloves

The Box

A few years ago, a friend gave me a collection of postcards featuring the charming Flower Fairies illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker.  The illustrations were done between 1923 and 1948 and, although I missed the mark, they were my inspiration for the costumes.

So I glued a few of the postcards to the gift box that would hold her outfits.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Inspiration for

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Dress up box

At this point, my niece is probably still rummaging through her Christmas gifts, so it could be a while before she turns her attention to these costumes.  But if she has half as much fun playing with them as I had putting them together, I will be happy.

This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial. Please consider all appropriate child safety issues before taking on similar projects.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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