Sew your own mermaid tails

We are deep into a mermaid phase in this house. I didn’t mean that to be a pun (ocean = deep) but that’s because I have mermaids on the brain. ALL. OF. THE. TIME.
I started the fascination, actually. They were playing with C’s new mermaid Barbie in the tub, and I started singing Part of That World from The Little Mermaid. 
(I’m a terrible singer, but I love to sing, so I enjoy singing in front of little kids who can’t tell that I’m tone-deaf. Except sometimes they ask me to stop singing, and I’m like guyssssss! 😦
They both stopped playing and watched me, spellbound, as I sang the full song (memorizing Disney songs = unhelpful talent most of the time). From there, I played the song for them on YouTube, and we watched the movie a few days later. They LOVED it. (I think we’d seen it before, when D was little maybe, but they didn’t remember it.)
One day, when I was looking up Little Mermaid songs on YouTube, I accidentally clicked on a tutorial for making mermaid tails. I watched the whole thing, and was amazed that it involved using a saw to cut plexiglass (PLEXIGLASS?!) to insert into the fins. 
The tails were really cool, but there was no way I was buying plexiglass ($$$) for dress-up tails. So I made a date to take the kids to the fabric store, they each picked out some stretchy, shiny knit fabric, and I taught myself to make mermaid tails.
(I even remembered to take step-by-step pictures, so … )
Aren’t they cute?

 If you, too, refuse to spend money on plexiglass (or those strange monofin flippers that only seem to be available in the U.S.), here’s how to sew a simple mermaid tail in two ways …

*** IMPORTANT NOTE: I don’t recommend swimming in these (or any other) mermaid tails, because, hello, drowning?! Drowning is very possible when you’re squeezing your legs into a tube, and you don’t have the strong abs of a mermaid. These tails are for slithering around on the carpet, on dry land, and pretending to be mermaids. Cool?

I used 0.5 metres of fabric for our three-year-old (who is the size of a two-year-old) and about 1m for our five-year-old. Cut a piece to be the “body” and fold it over, so it’s about the width of your child. Save the rest for your “fin.”

Fold the tail “body” fabric lengthwise (right sides together)
Fold the fabric over again, so there are four layers (this is so you can make the body nice and curvy on both sides at once)

Trim along the non-folded edge, tapering in as you get closer to the bottom. Then unfold it, and do any more trimming. On C’s, I decided to make the waist even smaller at this point.

Make sure the waist looks similar to the waistband of your child’s leggings/pants. You want the tail to be snug, since the fabric is stretchy. 

Now put the body aside. Fold the “fin” fabric in half, and cut half of a mermaid fin. You know, it sort of swooshes down to a point, and then comes up in the middle? You’ve seen The Little Mermaid. You get it.

Now you’ve got your fin and your body ready to sew. Pin and sew around the edges of the fin (leaving the top open). Pin and sew around the edges of the body (leaving the top and bottom open).

If you want your fin to be sturdy (not floppy), you can line it with an old towel or some other kind of stiff, thick fabric. Trace each of your fin pieces onto the thick fabric, and sew the layers together.

(Full disclosure: the terry-cloth jammed my serger and broke a needle. And I cried in frustration trying to replace the needle and rethread the thing.)

Turn the fin right side out, and stuff it inside the body of the tail. Pin and sew the layers together.

This part looks tricky, if you’re not used to sewing, but it’s not. I promise. You’re just sewing the fin to the body, but you’re doing it all on the “inside” so you don’t see your stitches.

C’s fin is floppier than D’s, but it was *much* faster to sew.
The kids LOVED their new mermaid fins so much, they wanted ones for their dolls, too.
I took the lazy way out for the dolls (they’re just dolls — they don’t care). I sandwiched two scrap pieces together, threw in a few pins, and cut out a rough mermaid tail shape.

C wanted a bandeau top like Ariel, so I sewed a simple tube top, and then used my scissors to cut it into an hourglass shape. No need to hem, because it’s not going to fray. (Also: hemming sucks.)

Thanks for checking out my mermaid tail tutorial! I hope it inspired you to make one, and not just, like, eat some fish or something. Although the scales on D’s tale really make it look like something in a seafood restaurant, don’t they?

Happy mermaid-ing!

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