You dream of being a mermaid? With a little sewing skill and easily available materials, you can make your own mermaid tail. You can look like a mermaid whenever you want, whether it's swimming at the beach or pool or walking around your next Halloween party. Read below for instructions on how to make a tail that can be used in water or soil.
Method 1 of 4: Tail Swimming
Step 1. Buy or make swimming flippers
Swim fins are similar to diving flippers but are designed to use and allow the dolphin's swimming style. They have greater endurance and make them an excellent training method. Monofins are swimming fins with a single blade, which hold the legs together to support proper swimming form.
- It's easy to buy monofin swimming fins but monofins can also be made with pipes glued together, or make a monofin completely from scratch. The last two methods are not recommended but are certainly possible if monofin is not available.
- Monofins and other swimming flippers can be purchased at swimming and sports stores, as well as online. Be sure to buy a well-known brand, as cheap flippers can crumble or be uncomfortable or not work for swimming.
- Try it. Leg pockets come in two styles: one with a pre-made sole and heel pocket and one without a heel and strap to secure the flipper to the foot. The fins should feel secure when you use them not pinch or injure you. Your feet should feel comfortable and flexible.
Step 2. Create your pattern
With monofin, you can simply trace the shape of your feet and flippers onto cardstock or cardboard or you can measure yourself and create a pattern from the measurements. If you're measuring, seek help from a friend. Creating patterns from measurements will require more math but will also be more accurate.
- In order to create a pattern from the measurements, measure the circumference (in other words, all parts of) the waist, mid-thigh hip, knee, upper calf, and ankle, and take the dimensions of the monofin. Then measure the length between each section (knee to upper calf, upper calf to ankle, etc). Divide the circumference in half and then draw your pattern, making sure that the width of each section is equal to the measurement of the width of the halved and making sure that the distance between each section is the same as the length measurement you took. The possible monofin can be traced directly to the separate pattern of your foot, once you know where the foot will be formed.
- You may want to take measurements at points along your body to ensure a more accurate shape, but the swimwear used to make the tail is usually stretchy and will generally conform to your shape so it doesn't need to be perfect.
- For patterns, you can draw with or without stitches. If you don't pull by setting the seams aside, make sure when you cut the fabric leave room for the stitches. Usually, it's better not to make a pattern with the remaining stitches, as you can use the lines as a guide when sewing.
- There are several ways to make fins. The easiest method might be to leave a few inches of fabric at the bottom, along the bottom edge of the fin, and leave the bottom exposed. This will allow you to place material such as the skirt and then the fins, stretching the fabric over the fins. Excess fabric at the bottom can be trimmed to look like the even edges of the fish fins. Another method is to have a zipper along the edge of the bottom fin, and a clear line. The latter method will have a single stitch around it, but this will be more difficult to get in and out of the tail, as well as making it difficult to get the monofin in the fabric. This will only work if you have fins that are in two halves and are flexible enough. Decide which method is best for your needs and skills and make sure your pattern matches the method you have chosen.
Step 3. Cut the fabric
First, you have to buy fabric. Try looking at a sewing, craft store, or online to find the fabric you need. Use a stretchy material that is suitable for water, namely nylon spandex. Look for fabrics that are labeled as swimsuit material. Thick material is better than thin material, because it will give a more-similar appearance.
- Fold the fabric in half, so your sides will look very touching, then trace the pattern onto the fabric using sewing chalk. A marker or pen can also be used if you don't have chalk, but keep in mind that the lines can be seen once the fabric is turned to the right. Pin along the traced line using straight pins so the two fabrics are joined firmly.
- Now, cut the fabric. As stated above, make sure that there are seams remaining when you cut the fabric. Cut the fabric using very sharp scissors, preferably sewing scissors, or any tool designed for cutting fabric.
- Be sure to leave an extra inch or two at the top, in the waist position, to create a fringe for the waist. You should also make sure that you cut the fabric exactly for the method you choose to attach the fins to.
Step 4. Sew the tail
Leave the fabric exposed at the waist, sew on one side and then the other, following the lines drawn from the pattern. Be careful of straight pins and remove them when they are no longer needed. If you're going to actually include monofin, just start at the waist and around until you reach the other side. If you leave it open or use a zipper, do not sew along the bottom edge.
- Since the fabric is stretchy, you will need to explain this in how you sew it. Use the ball-point needle on your machine and set the machine to stretch the seam, if possible. If your machine doesn't have stretch stitches, use a zigzag stitch. You don't want to use straight stitches, as they will break when the fabric is pulled. Make sure you also have the tension in the leg set a little looser than usual.
- Once you're done on one side, zip it up if you're using one. Sew the ends of the waist and turn the right side of the fabric. Now your work is done!
Method 2 of 4: Tail Walking
Step 1. Create your pattern
Make a pattern for a long tube skirt on a sheet of heavy cardstock cardboard. This skirt can be more fitted or can be a loose tube. This depends on your needs and how many measurements you want to take. The bottom should be just above the ankles and waist which can go anywhere you want.
- Measure your hip circumference. Leave the waist the same size as the hips. An elastic waist will serve to make the waist just the right size. If you want the skirt to be more snug, you can measure at more points as well. Your thighs, knees, upper and lower calves are also good places to measure. Remember that the closer your feet are together when you take your measurements, the closer the fit will be and the harder it will be to walk on the skirt. Certain cuts are possible only when using highly elastic fabrics. Also measure the distance between different parts (waist to hip, hip to thigh, thigh to knee, etc.)
- Draw a center line on your pattern, a length equal to the distance between your waist and ankles. Using the measurements you took earlier between the sections, mark the distance along the center line. Then, take the circumference measurement and divide it. Mark the halved measurements in each section. Now draw a pattern for the skirt.
Step 2. Cut your fabric
Cut the fabric using the pattern you have created. Use methods and tools similar to those described above for tail swimming. You will need to leave extra fabric at the top near the waist for the waist and, as above, you will need to leave extra space when cutting the fabric for seam allowances.
Step 3. Sew the skirt
With the pattern, sew the skirt in a similar way to the method described for the swimming tail above. Leave the bottom and waist exposed, but also the last few inches from the sides as well as inches from the top. At the bottom, cut from the center of the panel to the point where the seam stops. This cut should be at an angle in such a way as to create an inverted triangle shape at the bottom of the skirt.
Step 4. Make the fins
The flared part of the skirt should be made of a different and contrasting fabric from the one used to make the rest of the skirt. This will give the appearance of the fins. The same fabric will be used to make the waist. Using lighter colored fabrics is recommended but use whatever color combination you prefer.
- Take a rectangular piece of fabric, approximately 1.5 to 2 times the distance from the point on the front of the skirt to the point on the back of the skirt, although it can be longer. The longer it is, the more complete the bottom of the skirt will be. This fabric will form one fin. These pieces will be needed to form the other side, meaning you will need a total of two pieces.
- Sew the pieces front-to-front with the rest of the skirt, doing it on one side and then the other in such a way that it creates a ruffled or pleated effect. This will make the fin appear full and hide any imperfections.
- Cut the corners of the fin fabric so that it becomes round when the pieces are joined in the middle. Depending on the fabric you use, you can give your fins a very different look. If using organza, trim the wavy edges of the fabric and finish with a fray-stopping or overlay solution. If you're using a denser material, you may want a fringe of the edges.
Step 5. Create the waist
As stated above, an elastic material will be used to make the waist fit. Get the elastic length and cut it to your waist measurement at the point where the band will be placed. Then, Cut in half. You may want to leave a very small amount of residue but this is not really necessary. The elastic part does not have to stretch when measured and cut.
- With the skirt inside out, flip the top of the fabric down about an inch or two to form a waist band. How far will depend on how much fabric you have when you cut and what your personal preferences are for appearance. The open inches at the side seams should allow you to form two tubes. Pin the fabric and sew so that the tube forms.
- Now, thread the plies through the tubes, pinching them at each end. Close the tubes by sewing them together. It should now be a closed, stretchy, complete waist.
- Use the remaining contrast fabric to sew the length, width of the tube. It should be equal to the waist circumference with the rest. Close the tube and then attach it to the waist. Pin and gather the fabric and attach it by sewing a few stitches and decorative items such as pearls or seashell buttons in the center as well as on the back of the skirt. The cloth is then collected and tucked into the waist or left in a draped appearance. Now your skirt is done!
Method 3 of 4: The Top
Step 1. Bikini top
You can wear a bikini with your new mermaid tail. This can be a bikini that you already own or you can buy one just for the occasion. Stores like Victoria's Secret and Macy's often sell bikini tops separately. Colors should be chosen to match or complement the tail you have created, to give it a natural appearance.
Step 2. Scallop top
You can buy or make clam tops. These are easy to make with this seashell gluing craft for a bikini top. Shells can be painted or left to look natural. If you plan to swim you will use waterproof glue. You can make tops just from shells and string by drilling holes into the shells but this is inconvenient and easy to crack the shells.
Step 3. Free boss
You can use leftover fabric from your tail to make the exact same top. Many patterns and instructions are available online for free. The style will depend on your needs, personal preference and skill level.
Method 4 of 4: Details and Additions
Step 1. Adding fins
You can add all sorts of extra details for the swimming tail and walking tail. Additional fins can be added to both, using contrasting fabrics or the same fabric used in the fins. It can be placed along the sides or on the back. Decide in advance if you want to place additional fins, as this will need to be taken into account when you sew. See pictures of fish for inspiration.
Step 2. Adding scales
You may want to paint scales onto your mermaid's tail. If your tail is for swimming, make sure water-resistant paint is used. You can paint the scales with a brush or with a stencil and spray paint. Keep in mind that this can be time consuming and will require some skill to make it look real. It may be easier to use an unprinted fabric with a scale pattern.
Step 3. Pearls and starfish
You can sew a pearl necklace around the waist of the tail or sew a sea craft anywhere you think looks appropriate. These are difficult to attach, depending on the material, but can really work to complete your look. Pearls and starfish can also be added to your hair or hair.