Saturday, November 21, 2009

Making a Mermaid Costume

This weekend we went to a mermaid party so obviously the girls needed a little transformation.

From my internet surfing I found you have two options a tight skirt that frills out at the bottom or a long skirt with a fish tail hanging off the back. I opted for the later because it's a more literal translation for a two year old and more practical for playing. Interestingly it was the costume style worn by every mermaid at the party. Unable to find a tutorial to create the skirt I imagined I created my own. I'm very proud of this as it's the first piece of clothing I have made of my own design.


Another positive is that both costume cost less than $10. I brought 50cm of a aqua chiffon like fabric with a glittery silver pattern and 30 cm of aqua netting (for merbaby). You could use any pretty mermaid like fabric.

For the lining I used 70 cm (50cm if you're just making a mermaid skirt) of aqua cotton that I had at home. You also need a small piece of batting, matching thread and elastic.

I used a papery fabric that is used for tracing patterns. You could also use calico or a cheap cotton.

  1. Draw up a dummy skirt. This will become your template for the eventual skirt. Here is the pattern soon to be added. It's all straight lines so really easy to draw up straight onto the fabric.

  2. Cut out the dummy skirt and sew it together at the sides using a 1.5 cm seam allowance (or what ever seam allowance you intend to use .

  3. Fold over about 2.5 cm at the top. This will form the waistband.

  4. Ideally try it on your child now and mark the top of the knee in the middle of the front piece and their ankle in the middle of the back piece.

  5. Lie the dummy skirt on the floor (remove the child first) with the skirt folded so that the middle of the front piece is on one side and the middle of the back is on the other side. In other words the seams are lined up in the middle. This will enable you to get a symetrical template.

  6. Now draw in the hem line. It starts (at the bottom of the photo) just above the knee (remember the mark you made). It travels across then gently curves and ends in line with the ankle mark. From here draw on your tail. This was my draft - my husband made it a little more fish like. If I make this again I would make the piece where the tail joins on wider to make turning easier.

  7. Cut along your line through both layers.

  8. Unpick your seam. This will give you your pattern.

  9. Pin your pattern to your fabric (cotton and chiffon). Cut a top and bottom out of each fabric.

  10. Sew the front and back pieces together at the side, right side together. Repeat using the lining fabric.

  11. Turn the top layer so that the right side is on the outside. Place the lining skirt inside the top layer. The two layers should be right sides together and the seams and edges should match up.

  12. Lie batting ontop of the fish tail and cut out. By lying the battin on top of the chiffon the edges get tucked behind the lining layer where they aren't visible.
  13. Pin together along lower seam and tail. Sew.

  14. Re-enforce the tail by going around it with a zigzag stitch.Then trim off the excess close to the zigzag stitch.

  15. Turn the skirt throught the open waist so that the right side is on the outside. This is where a wider tail opening would help. I eventually unpicked the stitches around the tail and closed the edges afterwards.

  16. Top stitch around the bottom hem and tail.

  17. Turn over a 2.5cm hem along the top with both layers together. Insert elastic.

  18. Sew along the bottom hem using a gathering stitch (longest stitch length, low tension). Pull the bobbin thread to gather the bottom hem into a frill. Sew along basting with a normal stitch.
  19. A dangly tail can get in the way so add a matching button on the waistband and a buttonhole on the end of the tail.

It's kind of like a mermaid bustle. Alternatively you could add a small loop of cord or ribbon to one end of the tail so that it can be looped over the wrist.

There you are your skirt is complete.

You might like to whip up an applique t-shirt using the scraps.

You can find this little fish here.

Or a matching hair lacky. This is very simple just cut any matching fibres (strips of tulle, ribbon, wool...) about 15cm long and tie them around the hair lacky until the circle is complete,


  1. The girls in their mermaid costumes are just gorgeous Kristine. Well done and so creative!

  2. I love how you folded the tail over for playing.

  3. Did you ever post a pattern for your skirt. I love this! My daughter wants a mermaid tail and this is perfect for play! Thanks.