This is one of my favorite projects from this summer...
A mermaid tail, that doubles as a summer cover-up!
I wish I could say that this was entirely my idea, but I've got to give Barbie a little credit.
The Mermaid Tale Barbie had this awesome little number that I just HAD to try to put together myself.
Though it likely is not perfect, I was happy with my first two attempts.
My girls? They were thrilled!
So here is my best attempt at putting a tutorial together for you.
I believe this cost about $10 to make!
I made a youth small and a youth medium to fit my 4 and 8 year old daughters.
- Swimsuit Spandex Fabric
- Light-Weight Fabric for the Cover-Up (I used a jersey knit)
- Light-Weight Fabric for the Tail (I used a cotton)
- Fabric for the Tail Fin (I used a light knit with some sparkle woven into it)
- Closures of Choice (to turn the fin into a hood.... I used large snaps, but you could use buttons or velcro too)
Measure your little girl's waist, and from her waist to where you would like her skirt to fall. The skirt will be made of two parts: the waistband and the skirt itself.
Youth Small - My daughter's waist measured 21", and I needed a 10" total length.
Youth Medium - My older daughter's waist measured 25", and needed a 12" total length.
1) Cut your skirt fabric!
- Cut a strip one inch less than your waist measurement by 5" for the waistband from the swimsuit spandex.
- Cut a strip at 17 1/2" by your waist measurement for the skirt from the same swimsuit spandex.
- Cut a strip one inch less than your waist measurement by 5 1/2" for the waistband from the swimsuit spandex.
- Cut a strip at 21 1/2" by your waist measurement for the skirt from the same swimsuit spandex.
2) Begin Sewing!
Take the shorter sides of your waist band strip with right-sides together and sew at least a 1/2 seam. I think I used 5/8ths.
Open up your seam, and fold your waistband in half, as shown below (smoothing out the extra fabric from your seam)
Now do the same with your skirt strip. Again, place the two shorter sides of the strip right-sides together, and sew at least a 1/2" seam.
Repeat the steps above to fold your fabric in half to form your skirt, as you see below.
You might have noticed in the photo above, I ran a zig-zag stitch along the top edge of my skirt to hold the fabric in place. I would recommend doing this to both the waistband and the skirt. Here is a closer look...
And now you have the two pieces you need for your skirt.
Set these aside... you won't need them for a little while. ;)
3) This is where it gets tricky...
Ok. I'm not trying to scare you here. I'm really not even trying to suggest I am the only one with the skills to pull this one off. ha ha. So don't get me wrong here. I had NO CLUE how to share my pattern with you other than these photos and describing my crazy method. So I am hoping that anyone attempting this is able to get what they need from what I have here. So let me apologize in advance!
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me for what I am about to share with you."
Here is the pattern I made. I thought it was best to use a piece of scrap fabric so I could "test it out" before committing to my design. You are looking at the pattern on it's side and folded in half as you will be cutting your fabric. The front/middle of the cover-up is where the "fold" is indicated and the middle back, where the seam will be, is indicated with "cut edge - seam".
To make the template pattern I first folded a length of fabric so that I had the two ends over-lapping in the middle to make a tube about the width I thought I would need for my child.
I then placed one of my daughter's loose-fitting shirts over top to get the appropriate design. I cut my arm holes and neck line according to that... allowing for excess fabric on top to be used for the hood/tail fin. Here is my template pattern folded as it would be sewn, below...
Sorry it is so hard to see the lines with this red fabric (not the right choice for sharing here I now realize).
So, basically, what I am telling you is that I recommend making a template like this one!
(are you still here?)
Seriously, do it... sew the seam up the back, and test it on your child. Make sure they have a little wiggle room and that the hood sizing seams right. Drop it down like a mermaid tail and make sure the length looks right. When you are happy with it, forge ahead...
3) Back to cutting & sewing!
I chose a light, pink jersey knit for the "cover-up" portion of the outfit. I used my template to cut out my pink fabric on the fold as shown below.
For the mermaid tail I had to cut two separate pieces of fabric instead of the one for the cover up. Now, here I chose a nice, dark pink, light cotton fabric for mermaid tail. The downside to this is that it doesn't have any stretch to it, when the light pink knit does! If this bothers you, then you might want chose a fabric with some stretch. However, it worked fine for me because I allowed for a little extra room to make up for the lack of stretch.
- Cut out your mermaid tail fabric to match the template, on the fold, up to the hood/fin, but leaving about 1/2" or more above that to allow for seam allowance.
- Next, cut out your mermaid tail FIN fabric, but here you want to give yourself a lot of extra fabric to work with. (As shown in the picture below.)
You see that I cut the arm-hole out of my fabric here, but I found the second time round that it was best to wait... so do not cut your arm holes out yet!
Once you have your mermaid tail and fin fabric cut, sew them right-sides together so you have what you see below (folded in half).
5) Putting the two together...
With the right-side facing down, I placed my pieced fabric for the mermaid tail on top, matching them together.
Now here, you will notice that the cover-up fabric hood does not match the mermaid tail fin because we added extra fabric to make it really cool in a later step. So you need to add some little folds here and there as you are pinning these together. Don't worry... it doesn't need to be perfect. Just try to space out the folds a bit as you go.
Once you are pinned, sew these two layers together. Here you are sewing "along the top" of the two fabrics, from the back of one fin/hood piece, around and down the middle, v-neck line, then up and around the second fin/hood piece. DO NOT SEW down the back quite yet!
Another note... when I got to the v-neck portion I added some notches to the seam allowance, and added two or three additional seams to help reinforce it since I figured it would get tugged on a bit through wear.
Turn your fabric right-side out, pulling the fins to a nice point, and it should look like this...
(minus the arm hole, because you haven't done that part quite yet... remember?)