Home » Crafty Stuff » Mermaid Fairy Costume Tutorial

Mermaid Fairy Costume Tutorial

This is a “Mermaid Fairy” costume… a mermaid with wings… because that’s what I was told I had to make 🙂  but you can leave out the wings if you like…

For the tail skirt, you need something with stretch.  I used a lycra with a metallic very fine dot printed on it, so it shimmers.  For this you’ll need the stretch of  fabric to go around the body, so buy as much as you need the skirt to be long…. as the width of the fabric will go around the body, since that’s where the stretch is.  So measure the child from about belly button to ankle… that should give you enough to fold over for the elastic casing if the skirt will sit on the hip…. Personally I like to always allow a little extra to account for things like them not cutting straight.

For the wings you can use anything… here I’ve used what I think they called “butterfly wing organza” – it’s got a really good sheen to it… but a “crystal organza” would work well too.  Chiffon doesn’t wrinkle as much, and has a lovely floatyness – the organza is stiffer but you can get ones with a nice sheen to them… so it’s up to personal preference.  If you don’t have an overlocker to do a rolled hem… you might like to use the soft nylon net (not that scratchy hard tulle stuff), as you can just cut that and not need to edge it – it won’t be as floaty and nice though.

The bra top I would suggest something with a stretch (makes it easier to put on, and you won’t need to put in a zip or anything) – I’ve used some stretchy stuff with sequin spots stuck to it… you could use lycra or anything… I’ve used clear elastic for the straps, but you could use something else.

You’ll also want some elastic for the wings – you need some for the wrists and some for the neck.  I used a silver elastic cord because that’s what MiniObsi wanted, but you could use clear elastic.  You can use a snap/press stud/hook&eye to hook  the wing to the back or straps of the bra top if you would prefer (like I did in the fairy dress), but this version is made separately, and I think it’s nice to have a detachable option so they can be worn separately.

So…. Skirt….  Measure the child’s hips, and how wide you want it to be around the ankle… they need to be able to walk, so it can’t be too tight!  The stretch of the lycra will mean they can stretch it a bit as they walk too though…  Cut a cone type shape from the lycra – remembering that the stretch needs to go around the body – not up and down!  You won’t be able to do it on the fold, so you’ll have a side seam down both sides.  Sew or overlock down the sides to sew it up.  (or sew the ruffle on and do the side seams later)

Now comes the fun job of making the ruffle…

You could go an easier way and cut a fin sort of shape and sew that on, but the ruffle is cute.  I used the selvedge of the sequin stuff – it had about 4 inches worth of plain fabric with no sequins, so I cut that off to use.  I’d bought 1.5 metres of it, so I had enough for the bras and I was anticipating using it as the ruffle too… and I’d wanted some spare for other projects… but then MiniObsi suggested using the selvedge and I thought that would look better…. so I just cut it off and used it – so it’s 1/5 metres worth of ruffle, and I think that’s a perfect amount for the size I made… and I’m lazy so I didn’t bother finishing off the edge, I left it be.

Ruffle… here’s how I did it…. it’s probably easier in hindsight to cut your ruffle piece in half and sew it onto the bottom of each  skirt piece, then sew the lot together, but I did it the other way – sew the skirt then ruffle… which is more awkward, but in case you do it this way, here’s how..

First, sew/overlock the ends of the ruffle strip together so it’s one large band.  Pin the seam of ruffle onto one of the side seams (make sure it’s going to be the right sides together).  Then find the centre of your ruffle piece(the opposite side to the seam), and pin that to the seam on the other side of the skirt.  You’ll probably be wrangling a lot of ruffle fabric… it gets reduced quickly, don’t panic.

Now it’s just a case of finding the centre of the ruffle part between the 2 pinned sections and hold that bit, and find the centre of the skirt part between the pins, and put the ruffle against that (I do that by holding the skirt in one hand, the ruffle in the other, and holding them apart until the pins come together  then adjusting where I’m holding so that I’m holding that centre point).  Pin, pin, pin and so on… taking the middle of each section and pinning it together, until it reduces down to a nice gather.  I should have done a photo of an earlier gather stage, but nevermind…

and keep going until you’ve pinned it all into very small gathers and used up every pin you own…and stabbed yourself 60 million times 🙂

Now I like to sew over the pins using a sewing machine first, then remove the pins and overlock it – just so it looks neat.  These fabrics won’t fray, so it’s not necessary, but I think it looks neater.  Remember to pull the fabric taught as it goes through, so that it will stretch later…. if you don’t, then the skirt won’t stretch here because your thread will stop it…

Then sew the casing for the waist elastic…I found my machine threw a hissy fit trying to sew this neatly… even with a ball point needle and a stretch stitch it was skipping stitches, but hopefully you’ll have more success.  Again, stretch the fabric here as you sew, so your waistband will have more stretch.

and now you should have this – thread the elastic into the casing, finish off any overlocker threads .. you can sew some pearls to the sides for fun….and the skirt is done (and that rhymes!).

The bra top… pretty simple… measure the child’s chest… add a little on for room… and sew/overlock a seam down the back…. then I’d suggest putting it on the child and pin the elastic straps on so you get them in the right spots.  I brought the front in with some pearls… all I did was loop them over, then sew them together in the space between the pearls…

My machine didn’t like to sew this stuff either, so I tried hemming the edges and it skipped stitches all over the place, so I gave up on that idea and just left it.  But I did fold over the back where the seam is and sew that down, and I folded over where I sewed the straps on, and that makes the rest of the top stay folded over (well, it seems to).

The wings… You’ll want to cut a shape sort of like this – I use the width of the fabric as the width (arm to arm) of the wing, because that’s about right for a 7 year old…  anyone younger and you’ll want to trim it down a bit.  Edge it if you are using fabric that will fray.  You’ll probably find you get a nice wavy edge where the curve is – as it stretches a bit as you sew it…. and people will think you went to great lengths to do that on purpose 😀  *shh* we’ll just pretend that’s a very complicated and special technique to learn!

Then sew some elastic on the tips for the wrist, and along the centre back for the neck (make sure it’s long enough they can pull it over their heads)

How I do the elastic is to knot it, then put it on the fabric and fold the fabric over, then sew it all around the top so the knot can’t slip through…

So when it’s worn, you’ll get this type of effect –

I’m assured by my small one who has tested several versions of these wings, that the weight of the wings doesn’t choke the wearer… but as I said, if you don’t like the idea of a small child being garotted by a wing costume bit, then feel free to attach the wing to the top instead… or you could use one of those magnetic clasps you can buy for necklaces, and have that attached as a failsafe – so if the wing is pulled on/caught in something, the force should open the magnetic clasp and the wing will fall off – rather than strangling the child.  I take no responsibility for any children being beheaded as a result of this tutorial 😀

Now, some action shots…

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