A Gown For the Ball

Lucia has been asking me to make her a “ball gown” forever. When the opportunity to bring her to a real “ball” presented itself, I thought it was the perfect time to fulfill her request.

After mulling over a few dress ideas with Lucia, her desires were clear: “really, really, poofy and really, really long.”  Since we’re flooding in pink glitter over here, I thought that an Audry Hepburn inspired black tutu gown would be fun. Lucia agreed.

I decided to make a triple layer, floor length tutu dress, and had difficulty envisioning if it would be poofy enough.  So, I took some measurements and sewed a tulle dress to wear under her tutu dress (just like a bride’s crinoline on her wedding day).  I realized upon project completion that this under-dress was totally unnecessary. Whopsy Daisy.

The totally unnecessary “under-dress”.

Then I moved on to making a “no-sew” tutu and  found several tutorials on Pinterest.  The most laborious part entailed measuring and cutting a gazillion strips of tulle.  Which were then easily tied to an elastic band in a series of double knots.  I only used my sewing machine to sew the elastic band together and the ribbon straps to the dress. I found thick black satin ribbon in my craft box and used it for a waistband and was thrilled to finally have a perfect purpose for one of my grandmother’s vintage broaches.  I added some dress up pearls and small tiara from Lucia’s dance recital to complete her Breakfast at Tiffany’s look.  The end result was a ginormous tulle explosion, on a very happy four year old.

Truly thrilled in her ball gown.

Although my daughter has a plethora of dress up clothes, she makes me feel like she really appreciates homemade.  And I love the process of sewing for my children.  Taking measurements, having my kids sit by my machine, hearing “is it almost done yet mama?”, and the excitement upon completion.  In true Cinderella spirit, the material cost a whopping $10.92 and recycled ribbons and sentimental jewelry brought it all together.  Lucia loved it (and begged to wear it to school).

It may be hard to believe that a mama who constructs this sort of ridiculousness for her daughter, is also a mama who happens to dislike the current princess culture. It’s not the costumes and sparkles that I’m opposed to. It’s the constant bombardment of binary gender stereotyping in much of the princess culture that gets under my skin.  Sure, some examples of female agency can be argued when exploring princess movies and stories. But for me it just comes down to wanting to have better role models for my children.

Lucia’s aware of my feelings. However she’s allowed to like whatever she wants to, so she covets her beloved princesses under mama’s watchful eye.  When we read traditional princess stories mama edits them because they are horrible (If you don’t believe me, go read several and then go check out Barbie) we deconstruct them and talk about how they could be better.   We talk about how true beauty comes from the inside, by demonstrating kindness, being creative, cultivating adventures and believing in ourselves.  And we read about cool princesses like this one.

When, I learned that Moey’s Music Party was holding a “Princess Revolution Ball” at New York Junior League’s Astor Ballroom, I decided to check it out. I was quickly thrilled with the prospect of  bringing my kids to a real “ball” with a musician who sings about female empowerment. The music was rockin’ and her  lyrics were certainly pleasing.  And Moey definitely won me over when she wrapped things up with Marlo Thomas’s Free to be you and me, which Lucia happens to call “our song” – since she’s been watching this childhood favorite since she was little.

Lucia came home with a renewed interest in her microphone (her lyrics are hysterical!) and a new rockin’ princess to look up to.



  1. Love it! How did you make the top of the dress? I have made a tutu before but never made it into the dress, I think that completes the look!

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