DIY Outfit for the Birthday Girl for Under $20

DIY Birthday Girl Outfit |

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If anybody has ever meandered through Etsy or Pinterest looking for anything child or birthday related, you have surely come across all the simply adorable outfits that people sell for little girl’s birthdays. There are frills, there are flowers, there are TUTUS! They really are precious, and they can also be…really expensive. I do LOVE a little girl all dressed up for her birthday, and I do not want to discredit all the work that the sellers put in to making those outfits, they really are amazing, but I also know that not everybody wants, or is able, to spend that kind of money on an outfit for their little one to wear for one day while they bathe in their smash cake.

There is also the issue of needing to be organized enough to actually get said birthday outfit ordered in time, so that it can be made and shipped to you BEFORE the party/birthday, and yeah, I’m not that mom. So, for the past two years, I have made my own birthday outfits for my little girl at a fraction of the price, and usually within 48 hours of the event, because that’s how I roll (and because I’m cheap and unorganized).

Birthday Outfit Tutorial | HappilyFrazzled.comBirthday Outfit Tutorial |

I can’t wait to show you how you can do the same, for under $20!!!
DIY Birthday Girl Outfit |
The first and main thing that any birthday girl needs, and most will specifically request, is a tutu, and once a tutu is requested, you can’t really turn down a birthday girl, right? The awesome thing is that it is SO easy to make one yourself!

All that you need to DIY your own birthday tutu is about 1 or 2 spools of 6 inch tulle (I used 3 because I wanted 3 colors, but there were leftovers), a crocheted headband, and a pair of scissors, that’s it, NO needle and thread! You may need more or less tulle depending on the length you want, but you roughly need about 25 yards. Plain tulle comes with about 25+ yards to a spool. Glitter tulle usually only includes about 10 yards, for the same price. You definitely get more bang for your buck with the plain tulle…but then you don’t have the glitter. (A little disclaimer, the glitter does make a mess. I love glitter and I love the look of it in a tutu, so it’s a sacrifice that I am willing to make, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you).

Both the crocheted headband and the tulle, can be picked up from any local craft store or Walmart. I’ve seen the headbands at the dollar store too, for ONE DOLLAR. The headband will actually be the waistband for your tutu. They stretch pretty wide, but you’ll have to use your judgement for whether or not it will stretch big enough for your little one’s waist, or have her try it on before you get started. If the headband doesn’t work, you can use the same tying method that I am about to show you, on a long ribbon. Then, just wrap the ribbon around her waist and tie it with a bow.

The Tutu-rial:

Your first step in making a tutu, is to stretch your headband/waistband over a book or piece of cardboard. This will make it easier to see your holes, and to hold everything steady.
Birthday Outfit Tutorial |
Next you will need to decide how long you want your tutu to be, and to cut about 36 strips of tulle. Ellie’s pink and gold tutu for her 2nd birthday is about 8 inches long. Each strip of tulle is folded in half before it is adhered to the headband, so each strip of tulle should be double the length that you want, plus a little extra for the knot. This does not need to be measured perfectly.

The easiest method that I have found for cutting your tulle is to use a book or a piece of cardboard that is roughly the same number of inches that you want your tutu to be. Wrap the tulle around the book as many times as the number of pieces that you want, which should create a big circle of wrapped tulle. Then cut one end of the wrapped tulle off of the book.

Birthday Outfit Tutorial | HappilyFrazzled.comBirthday Outfit Tutorial |

You will now have all the pieces that you need to make your tutu, or you can repeat this process as many time as you need to, to collect all your tulle, in as many colors as you wish.
Birthday Outfit Tutorial |

Take your first piece of tulle and fold it in half. Stick the fold through one of the holes of your headband, one row up from the edge (you don’t want to adhere it to the thin elastic). Pull the folded tulle through enough that it creates a loop. Put your thumb and forefinger through the loop and pull the rest of the tulle through, making a cow hitch knot (yes, I looked that up), and carefully pull it tight.
DIY Tutu |

Continue to do this all the way around the headband, alternating whichever colors you are choosing to use. Once you have adhered the tulle all the way around, that’s it, you are done! You have made yourself your daughter a tutu! You will be so amazed with yourself, you will want to make one for all the little girls in your life, or you will at least want to share this tutu-rial with their moms :). Pretty simple, right?
DIY Tutu |
I bought a thicker crocheted headband for the pink and gold tutu, because I planned to do additional layers. Once my first layer was on, I realized that the additional layers were not necessary since Ellie is still pretty small. If you are making this for an older child, or want your tutu to provide more coverage, you can add additional layers using the same tying method on a row or rows of holes further up the headband. If not, the thinner crocheted headbands work even better for this project.
DIY Birthday Outfit |
Now that your birthday girl is busy twirling away in her new tutu, you can work on making her birthday shirt. You can use any plain shirt that you want for this, and you can really add any applique that you want to it. I prefer to show the year that they are turning on their shirt, but you could use this same technique to add their name, a picture, or a combination of all three. The best part about making something yourself is that you can really customize it any way that you want. I kept mine pretty simple, but you can really go all out!

For Ellie’s first birthday, I used a gray onesie that I already had, and I added a felt “1” to it. I printed out a large “1” in the font and size that I wanted on paper. I cut it out, traced it onto the felt, cut that out and glued it on to the onesie. I added pink hand stitching with embroidery thread all the way around for decoration and extra security, and also added a layer of silver glitter glue over the entire number. If you want to add an applique that is a little more detailed, check out this technique for cutting out an applique with the help of freezer paper! I then paired the onesie with a pink/white/silver tutu that I made using the method above.

Birthday Outfit Tutorial | HappilyFrazzled.comBirthday Outfit Tutorial |

For her second birthday, I didn’t already own a shirt that I wanted to use, so I spent a whopping $3.88 on a hot pink shirt from Walmart. I really wanted to add gold glitter letters to the front, but couldn’t find any in a font that I liked at the craft store, and of course I never leave enough time to order something, so I made my own. I found a sheet of iron on transfer paper in gold glitter at Joann Fabrics (they have it on Amazon!), and used the same exact method for cutting out an applique. I printed out “two,” traced it onto the backside of the transfer paper, cut each letter out carefully, and ironed them on to the front of the tee-shirt, following the directions that came with the transfer paper. Easy-peasy.
Birthday Outfit Tutorial |
I added a flower hair-clip/pin that I bought for $1 from AC Moore to the shoulder and she was good to go.
Birthday Outfit Tutorial |
I had planned on DIY’ing a birthday hair accessory, but when I found the headband that she is wearing on the clearance rack of Babies R Us for $1.99, I had to sacrifice the blog and go for it! It matched perfectly! If you are looking to DIY your hairpiece, you can check out instructions for a similar one over on

That’s it! A DIY outfit for the birthday girl! Ellie’s entire birthday outfit for her 2nd birthday was under $20 and the one for her 1st was under $10, including the tutu, shirt and hair accessory! And we even re-used the tutu from her Winter One-derland 1st birthday in the decor for her tutu themed 2nd birthday, you really can’t beat that!
Tutu Drink Dispenser |
If any of you DIY your own birthday outfits or tutus, or have the courage to do it now that I have shown you how easy it can be, please share them in the comments below or tag HappilyFrazzled in a photo on social media. I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to see them!!! And if you are looking for even more fun birthday ideas to make with tulle, you check them out here!


Oh, and I promised on Facebook and Instagram last week that I would share some of the pictures from Elyssa’s birthday photo shoot!

DIY Birthday Outfit |HappilyFrazzled.comDIY Birthday Outfit |HappilyFrazzled.comDIY Birthday Outfit |HappilyFrazzled.comDIY Birthday Outfit |HappilyFrazzled.comDIY Birthday Outfit |HappilyFrazzled.comDIY Birthday Outfit |HappilyFrazzled.comDIY Birthday Outfit |

DIY Outfit for the Birthday Girl |

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