Here’s a sewing tutorial on how to create a mermaid tail in time for Halloween or for dress-up all-year long. The idea came from my granddaughers. After watching Doll Costume Dress Up on Sewing With Nancy, my oldest granddaughter Avery promptly asked, “Gramma, for my birthday could you make a mermaid costume for my doll and one for me too? Now, don’t make an opening for my feet, I can swim like a mermaid with a tail!”  Then I asked her sister, Luella what she would like for her birthday. Answer: “Same as Avery!” So, two mermaid sets–big and small–were the task. (Much to Avery’s dismay, I made the big-girl fish tails with openings for feet!)






My Sewing With Nancy guest and friend, Joan Hinds developed the pattern for an 18″ doll dress-up mermaid costume. You can see how we created it in sequin fabric on the Doll Costume Dress Up episode online, and you’ll find the patterns in the bookThe pattern can be scaled (pun intended) to fit child sizes, giving you matching dress-up clothes for your favorite little ones. Here’s how I scaled the design and created a mermaid tail for my granddaughters, ages six and four.






Supplies, Fabric, and Notions

For both doll and child sizes:

For 18″ doll size:

Tail-
Top-
  • 1/4 yd. satin fabric
  • 1/4 yd. matching sheer shimmer iridescent fabric
  • 1 yd. decorative trim
  • Ready-made Doll T-shirt
For child size 5T:
Tail-

Create the Girls’ Mermaid Tail Pattern


How to Make a Mermaid Tail Pattern by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy




How to Make a Mermaid Tail Pattern by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  • Place a dot at the top of the curve, 1/4″ in from edge.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail Pattern by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



 Note from Nancy: To alter the pattern, Lengthen at top edge, and widen at left edge. 


How to Make a Mermaid Tail Pattern by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  • Cut out the paper pattern.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail Pattern by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



Construct the Tail 

  • Place fabric wrong sides together, and cut two tails from both the sequin fabric and the lining fabric.


How to Sew a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  • Sew side seams and bottom edge of the tail, right sides together, leaving opening between dots as marked on the pattern piece.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  • Turn to the right side and press.

Note from Nancy: Use Point Turner to turn tail points.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With NancyHow to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  •  Repeat steps above for lining, but don’t turn sewn lining to right side.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  • With wrong sides together, insert the lining inside the tail. Zigzag or serge the top edges together.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  • Fold 1/2″ of the waist fabric/lining toward the wrong side and stitch, leaving a 1″ opening for an elastic casing.


How to Sew a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



  •  Thread the elastic through the casing, using a Clip and Glide BodkinSecure the edges of the elastic. Optional: Sew opening closed.


How to Sew a Mermaid Costume by Nancy Zieman of Sewing With Nancy




How to Make a Mermaid Costume by Nancy Zieman of Sewing With Nancy



  • Turn up a 1/4″ hem to the wrong side, folding the lower edges of the sequin and lining fabric together; topstitch.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy




How to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



 

Using a Point Turner, “stuff” tail and topstitch to hold stuffing in place.


How to Make a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy




How to Sew a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman of TV's Sewing With Nancy



Create the 18″ Doll Top

Note from Nancy: In the Doll Costume Dress Up book, a pattern is provided for the 18″ doll mermaid top. For another option, I decided to do a quick makeover on a ready-made 18″ doll T-shirt. 

  • Create a front bodice panel and topstitch to an existing T-shirt. The shirt pictured below is for an 18″ doll.






  • Cut a bodice shape from Pattern Tracing Paper. Cut one bodice panel from the shimmer overlay and two panels from the lining.





  •  Sandwich the shimmer fabric between the two lining pieces. Pin.






  • Sew using a 1/4″ seam allowance; leaving the lower edge unstitched.
  • Notch seam allowance at curves. Remember to clip to, but not through, the stitching line.






  • Turn the bodice shape right side out.
  • Smooth the curves with a point turner tool.
  • Fold the lower edge towards the bodice panel lining, and press up a 1/4″ hem.





  • Position the panel on the center-front of the shirt.
  • Topstitch the folded hem at the lower edge.





  • Edgestitch the bodice panel to the shirt.





  • Apply as much trim as you like to finish off the mermaid costume top.





Ta-Dah! Time for a make-believe swim!


How to Sew a Mermaid Tail by Nancy Zieman



Watch Doll Costume Dress Up  on Sewing With Nancy online.

To watch Sewing With Nancy on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, download the app.

Nancy Zieman's Giveaway Winner

 

In last week’s blog, I asked what type of stitched item you are most likely to add embroidery to. The random winner of Creative Quilt Outlines…Pumpkins with Style is Marvel Donovan. She said, I am very new to machine embroidery but so far I am thrilled with the results. I love the fall designs, especially the use of tablecloths and napkins. I have an idea  for a basket and bag using the embroidery designs to make them extra special and fun for the holidays.






Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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