L&P 1073: Prima Ballerina Pattern for 18 inch dolls such as American Girl — Classical (Pancake) Tutu, Strapless Dance Bodice, Basque, Panty

L&P 1073: Prima Ballerina Pattern for 18 inch dolls such as American Girl — Classical (Pancake) Tutu, Strapless Dance Bodice, Basque, Panty



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Make just-like-the-real-thing ballet performance ensembles for 18 inch American Girl®-size dolls!

Pattern 1073: Prima Ballerina features a seamed, pointed front, STRAPLESS BODICE with a nude-look or contrasting front inset and elastic shoulder straps, and a detachable CLASSICAL TUTU (also known as a PANCAKE TUTU) with attached PANTY and BASQUE.

Our STRAPLESS BODICE — with its curved front seams, front inset, faux-plunging neckline, skin-tone or clear elastic straps, low back and waist-enhancing front point — perfectly replicates a style popular with real life prima ballerinas.

The bodice features a beautifully-seamed snug fit and includes directions for understitching the lining and flatlining delicate fashion fabrics. We have also included directions for adding faux lacing or other decorative elements to the front inset before completing the bodice.

An essential part of the principal dancer's wardrobe since the late 19th century, the CLASSICAL TUTU was developed to show off the elegant leg extensions and fast footwork made possible by the parallel development of the pointe shoe. The tutu's position on the hips instead of the waist emphasizes a long, sleek body line and allows the dramatic lifts and balances favored by Classical era choreographers for prima ballerinas and their male partners.

Our CLASSICAL TUTU is made exactly like the real thing, with alternating channels of tightly gathered tulle stitched to a perfectly-patterned PANTY in gradated lengths, from the wide "pancake" top to the dainty shirred ruffles close to the elastic leg openings. 
A neat, self-piping-edged BASQUE — a fitted band from waistline to hip — fills the space between the tutu and the bodice for a seamless, yet flexible look.

If you have both dolls and dancers in your life, and have dreamed of making a full size CLASSICAL TUTU, this pattern is a great place to start. A professional tutu maker will spend eighty hours or more on such a tutu — a daunting task for anyone to consider. But you can complete our doll-scale tutu in a tiny fraction of that time, while learning the same skills and following the same steps you'll need for the real thing!

As an added bonus, we've included a tutorial for turning knee-high trouser socks into doll-size DANCE TIGHTS, and information on the optional decorations that we show in our pictures throughout the pattern.


The STRAPLESS BODICE with FRONT INSET is rated INTERMEDIATE for a few small curved seams, limited hand finishing work, and careful pinning and seaming around the inset piece.


We hesitated before giving this garment an ADVANCED rating, as none of the individual steps are that hard and we don't want to discourage anyone from trying it. But this tutu does require careful, detailed work. The tulle ruffles are stitched very close together, so you have to be comfortable working on small areas with your sewing machine.

We also strongly recommend the use of a rotary cutter to cut the tulle ruffles, and rotary cutters should only be used by careful sewists, and never by or around children. That said, all of our testers — a group that includes beginner, intermediate and advanced sewists — completed beautiful classical tutus using the pattern directions, without any additional coaching.

As usual, Lee & Pearl's photo-illustrated directions and computer-drafted, guaranteed-to-fit-together pattern pieces make each step as easy as possible.



6" high x 18" wide piece of woven fabric

6" high x 18" wide OPTIONAL underlining

Scrap flesh tone or contrasting fabric for center front inset

6" high x 18" wide piece of woven fabric for lining

Hook-and-loop fastener (such as Velcro™) at least 1/2" wide

1/3 yard of 3/8" or 1/2" flesh tone ballet elastic or clear elastic — or 2/3 yard 1/8" flesh tone elastic — for shoulder straps

Matching thread

OPTIONAL: 2 medium or large snaps instead of hook-and-loop fastener


8" high x 16" wide piece of woven fabric, plus extra fabric to make bias piping

8" high x 16" wide OPTIONAL underlining

4" high x 13" wide piece of woven fabric for lining

1 yard of 54" wide tulle/nylon net —or— a single 25 yard roll of 6" bridal tulle

1/2 yard 1/8" cord for piping

1/2 yard 1/4" elastic for leg openings

Hook-and-loop fastener (such as Velcro™)

2 small (4/0) snaps

Matching thread

OPTIONAL: 2 medium or large snaps instead of hook-and-loop fastener


These are theatrical costumes, so let your inner costume designer run wild with beads, sequins, pearls, crystals, ribbons, laces, bows, feathers, flowers and any other trim you like. Genuine ballet costumes frequently also feature lace appliqués, flatlined decorative or sheer fabrics and alternating or ombré effect tutu layers.


Complete your little dancer's wardrobe with our ultra-realistic (and easy to sew) Pattern 1075: Ballet Slippers for Dolls, available HERE: https://www.etsy.com/listing/600591709/lp-1075-ballet-slippers-pattern-for-18


Sign up for our mailing list at www.leeandpearl.com, and you'll receive our newsletter full of free pattern tweaks, tutorials, crafts and printables. PLUS, you'll get the link for our annual members-only FREE PATTERN.

Starting in December 2018, that's Lee & Pearl Pattern 1038: The Gift Bow Front Dress for 18 Inch, 16 Inch and 14 1/2 Inch Dolls.

Our Bow Front Dress explores the lovely self-fabric trim trend with pleated raglan sleeves, a draped front panel and inverted center front pleats that mimic the look of a tied ribbon bow. Best of all, we designed this dress to be made from a single quarter yard or fat quarter of ordinary woven fabric!

Do not miss out on this pattern — join our mailing list today at www.leeandpearl.com.

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This pattern will be delivered as an instant download. After purchasing, you will receive a link to the PDF pattern file. No paper copy will be mailed.

This pattern may be printed solely by the original purchaser. It may not be duplicated, redistributed, posted or resold without prior authorization from Lee & Pearl™. If you use this pattern to make items to sell yourself, we ask that you give Lee & Pearl™ design credit in the description of those items. Thank you!

Lee & Pearl™ is not affiliated with Mattel, American Girl® or any other company or organization.


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2,069 reviews 5 out of 5 stars


Susan May 20, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

Very unique pattern. I build professional tutus and this pattern is designed exactly like the professionals.

Purchased item:

hutchinson09 Jul 12, 2018

Juanita McGovern Mar 14, 2019

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you for sharing your beautiful patterns. Can't wait to make this.

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