Sew a Mermaid Costume for Girls and 18″ Dolls
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 Nancy Zieman’s granddaughers. After watching Doll Costume Dress Up on Sewing With Nancy, Nancy’s 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 Nancy asked Avery’s 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, Nancy made the big-girl fish tails with openings for feet!)
Nancy’s Sewing With Nancy guest and friend, Joan Hinds developed the pattern for an 18″ doll dress-up mermaid costume. You can see how they created it in sequin fabric on the Doll Costume Dress Up episode online, and you’ll find the patterns in the book. The pattern can be scaled (pun intended) to fit child sizes, giving you matching dress-up clothes for your favorite little ones. Here’s how Nancy scaled the design and created a mermaid tail for her granddaughters, ages six and four (at the time).
Supplies, Fabric, and Notions
For both doll and child sizes:
For 18″ doll size:
- 1/3 yd. sequin knit fabric
- 1/3 yd. lining fabric
- 11″ elastic, 1/4″ wide
- 1/4 yd. satin fabric
- 1/4 yd. matching sheer shimmer iridescent fabric
- 1 yd. decorative trim
- Ready-made Doll T-shirt
- Tail Pattern PDF
- 3/4 yd. sequin knit fabric
- 3/4 yd. lightweight knit fabric for lining
- 24″ elastic, 1/4″ wide
Create the Girls’ Mermaid Tail Pattern
- Draw a 13″ x 20″ rectangle on Pattern Tracing Paper.
- At lower right edge, draw a curve using the5-in-1 Sliding Gauge.
- Place a dot at the top of the curve, 1/4″ in from edge.
- Print the tail pattern and tape at lower left edge.
- Cut out the paper pattern.
Construct the Tail
- Place fabric wrong sides together, and cut two tails from both the sequin fabric and the lining fabric.
- Sew side seams and bottom edge of the tail, right sides together, leaving opening between dots as marked on the pattern piece.
- Turn to the right side and press.
Use Point Turner to turn tail points.
- Repeat steps above for lining, but don’t turn sewn lining to right side.
- With wrong sides together, insert the lining inside the tail. Zigzag or serge the top edges together.
- Fold 1/2″ of the waist fabric/lining toward the wrong side and stitch, leaving a 1″ opening for an elastic casing.
- Thread the elastic through the casing, using a Clip and Glide Bodkin. Secure the edges of the elastic. Optional: Sew opening closed.
- Turn up a 1/4″ hem to the wrong side, folding the lower edges of the sequin and lining fabric together; topstitch.
Using a Point Turner, “stuff ” tail and topstitch to hold stuffing in place.
Create the 18″ Doll Top
- 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.
Ta-Dah! Time for a make-believe swim!
Watch Doll Costume Dress Up on The Best of Sewing With Nancy online.
Team Nancy Zieman
Nancy Zieman Productions. LLC.