Friday, October 26, 2012

The Littlest Mermaid Infant Costume

So big sis and dad found a costume... a mermaid costume, all ready to go for a not so bad price of $17.  So I gave in and told her she could get it.  But that meant I didn't get to play and create like I love to do.  That is until I realized I now have a little sis who is too little to voice an opinion and tell mom no!  And since big sis loves to match little sis, the decision was made that mom {that's me!} got to make little sis a matching mermaid costume, yay!

{Disclaimer: I have no clue what I am doing... I have never taken any sort of a formal sewing class and to be perfectly honest, every time I sew, I spend at least a third of the time cursing my mother-in-law's sewing machine, which I stole and won't return!  Please feel free to comment and leave me tips or ideas if you actually KNOW how to do things correctly... I won't take offense- I love too learn new things!  For those of you that don't know what your doing either... hopefully I can inspire you to go for it and try something new!}

First things first- we hit up our local JoAnn's.  Since it is close to Halloween, they had lots of cool fabrics all on clearance including the fun scale fabric you see here.  Since little sis is, well, tiny, we didn't need much fabric at all.  We got 2 feet of the scale fabric, 1/2 yard of the crazy purple fabric (which I am not really sure what it is- which got me into trouble later on... I bought it on it's looks: learned my lesson there!), 1/2 yard of 1/2 inch foam, and a 3 ft. roll of elastic.  In total, I paid just over $10. 

Next I measured little sis around the waist and around the widest part of her hips.  The scale fabric had some stretch to it, so I knew I had some playing room, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't too small!  Since the tail would have a front and a back sewn together, I took her waist measurement, cut it in half then added an extra inch to get the widths I needed for the tail.  { (waist/2) + 1 }  Little sis was a 16 inch waist, so { (16/2) + 1 }, I used 9 inches for her waist then did the same for her hips.  I used these two measurements to draw then cut out a mermaid shaped tail on a mail advertisement I had laying around.  To make it symmetrical I folded it in half before cutting, like you did with hearts when you were little!  I also held it up to little sis before tracing it onto the fabric and cutting out the fabric.  When you cut the fabric out keep in mind you will have your fabric folded in half so you will be cutting out the front and the back at the same time.
Now I may not know much about sewing, but two things my mom taught me when I was young that stuck are 1. keep your fabric inside out, good sides together and 2. use pins!  Every once in a while I think I am going to sew without pinning- it's not worth it- just pin the fabric together before you ever start cutting!!

Next we tackled the sewing machine to sew down both sides leaving the top and bottom open.  This is where you always try some test stitching on a scrap piece of fabric first and then curse and turn knobs until the stitches come out like you want... unless you know what your doing, of course.  I have found the sewing machine manuals to be your best friend!  Use yours if you get stuck :)

To make the waist, fold over the top about an inch and sew leaving room for the elastic.  Do not completely sew up the seam until you have threaded your elastic through the waist band.  To do this, use a large safety pin to help you out.

{Reminder: Keep your little one by and continually try on if possible!  The sooner you catch something that may be off, the sooner you can fix!}

Next we sketched out our tail fins.  I used big sis' costume to help me with the shape, but you can type into google images and see lots of different options.  I laid the fabric part out on top of the foam to help get a proportional size.

Then we cut out the foam fins and traced that same shape onto the fabric that will cover it, leaving about 1 inch extra space all the way around for the seam and width of the foam.  Make sure your good sides are together, pin, cut out, and sew the fin fabric leaving the top open for stuffing.

{This is where I got into trouble... my pretty purple fabric just started fraying apart, and quick.  Keep this in mind when buying a fabric- are the ends easily frayed??? If so it may be difficult to work with, hence the giant pile of purple glitter laying on the table in this last tail photo!}

After I stuffed the foam into the sewn tail, I went around and sewed about 1/2 inch in to give the tail some depth and some extra support for my disintegrating fabric!  I was going to go in and add a few more "fin" lines, but this fabric was just way too delicate to do so.

The last step was to stuff the foam tail fins up into the end of the scale fabric tail.  Once in I sewed a triangle pattern into the foam and scale fabric to hold it securely in place.

I know you are thinking... what about that bow!?  For the bow I created a little sleeve of the green fabric and ran the extra elastic through it similar to the waistband.  Luckily I had pinned several fabric flower ideas on Pinterest (love that place!) and I just picked one that I thought would work well with my quickly fraying purple fabric and went for it!  A hot glue gun and a couple great websites later, we had ourselves a pretty cute bow!  Check out these great sites that I used to help get some great ideas for yourself!

The Crafty Blog Stalker- How to Make 20 Different Fabric Flowers
Being Brook- Fabric Flowers 2 Different Ways (The style I used)

Overall, I love the way the costume turned out!  She flips and plays with the tail and it is just adorable.  I also love the fact that she can wear something mama made her... instead of something China made her!

What do you think?  Do you like to make costumes???  I would love to see some of your custom costume creations, so please share!


  1. THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I'm only fair at sewing being my mother has sewn everything from all our costumes to now my baby's quilts (the oldest now 14 & youngest 5mo). I really wanted the baby to be a a mermaid this year and was having a hard time finding just a BASIC how to to get my sleep deprived brain going. Thanks to you I think I got it. I will try to post it when I get it done :)

    1. I'd love to see it!! Best of luck! We are working hard trying to get a little girl Robin costume done currently (Batman & Robin!)... wish us luck too, lol!

  2. This was one of the best tutorials I found! Thank you so much for posting! My daughter's first Halloween costume is amazing with her new mermaid tail!

  3. This is so beautiful! You really did a great job. It makes me want to have another baby girl so I can make one too. :)

    Gretta Hewson
    Apollo Architectural Design Studio


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