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Little Mermaid Inspired Mermaid Tail Tutorial
May 22, 2014
Author: Adelle Belnap

My girls love mermaids. The mystical sea people are beautiful, enchanting and magical. My girls often pretend they are under the sea with Ariel and her ocean friends. They wish to be part of that world! So, I decided to make their wish come true. Now, when we are headed to the pool or the beach this summer they can make a splash with their very own mermaid tail! Your little princess can too, with this simple tutorial. In less than thirty minutes, her legs can become a beautiful tail - without the help of the evil sea witch Ursula!

This tail is intended to be worn as a swim suit cover-up or dress-up only outside of the water. I do not recommend wearing in the water or using it for swimming.

Here's what you'll need to make your Little Mermaid inspired mermaid tails:

Tail Fabric (amount varies - explained below)
Fin Fabric (24 inches tall x 44 inches wide)
1 Inch Elastic to fit waist
Sewing Supplies

Measure the length of your child from her waist to her feet plus 4 inches. My daughter was 25 inches from her belly button to her feet. I bought 29 inches of fabric. The best fabric will have some stretch to it. I purchased a stretch satin. Stretchy fabric makes it easier to walk in the finished tail and to get it on and off.

The tail fabric should be a light-weight fabric. I bought this fun ruffle fabric in the prom dress section of the fabric store. You will need a piece about 12 inches tall and 44 inches wide.
Wrap the fabric around your child's waist. Mark the spot where the two pieces meet with a pin. Don't make the tail too tight. You will want a little bit of room for walking. And, you need to allow for a small seam as well.

Cut the excess fabric off. With the right sides of the fabric together, sew along the edge. You will have a long tube.

Lay your tube skirt flat on a cutting surface with the seam in the center on the back. Cut the bottom off to form a point. Cut a straight line from the center point to the edge point 6 inches up in each direction.

Next, get the fin fabric ready. You will need two pieces of fabric, each 12 inches tall and about 44 inches wide. The more fabric you have in the width, the more gathered and fluffy the fin will be. The fabric I bought was not very wide, so I sewed two pieces together to make one longer piece.

Sew along the top edge of the fin piece. You are going to use the thread to gather the fabric, so DO NOT back-stitch when you begin and end. Also, I find it handy to leave a lot of leader thread at the beginning and the end. Once you have sewn across the top of each fin piece, pull on the thread and work the fabric along it so it gathers. I gathered the front section of the fin quite a bit and left the back section more straight. I decided it wouldn't matter if the back of the tail had less ruffle.

Pin the fin piece onto the tail piece starting at the front point and moving up and around to the back point. Make sure it lays flat and the ruffles are distributed evenly. You want the right side of the fin to be facing down onto the tail.

Sew the fin onto the tail, using a good 1/2 inch seam allowance, starting at the front point and moving along to the back. Fold the front edge and back edge over as you start and end to make a nice clean finish. Like this:

Repeat this process to attach the second fin. Turn the mermaid skirt inside out and fold the top end down about 1.5 inches. This will be the "pocket" for the elastic. Make sure your elastic will fit.

Sew along the fold leaving a 2 inch opening in the back for the elastic to thread through.

The last thing to do is add the elastic waistband. Measure your child's waist. Cut the elastic so it is slightly larger than their waist. Thread the elastic through the opening in the skirt. I like to put a large safety pin on the end of the elastic. It makes it easy to thread it through. Make sure the elastic does not twist or turn as you go around. Sew the two ends together overlapping them about 1 inch.

Sew the opening closed and you are done!

If you want to make a matching mermaid tail for an 18 inch doll, you can follow the directions above with a few adjustments.

You will need:
Tail Fabric (12 inches long and 12 1/2 inches wide)
Fin Fabric (8 inches tall by 20 inches wide)
12 inches of 1 inch Elastic
Sewing Supplies

Start by sewing the tail fabric together. Fold the fabric in half so the right sides are together and sew along the edge. Turn the tube right side out. Lay it on a flat surface with the seam in the middle of the back side. Cut a point. Cut diagonally from the center to the outside edge 3 inches up on each side.

Cut two pieces of the fin fabric to be 4 inches tall and 20 inches wide. Sew along the top edge with a loose stitch. This is going to be used for gathering so DO NOT back-stitch at the beginning or end. Hold on to the bobbin thread and work the fabric along it to form a gather. Slowly gather the fabric along the thread until it is about half the size that it was when you started. It will look something like this:

To attach the ruffle to the skirt, pin the right sides of the skirt and the ruffle together starting at the front center and moving along to the back. The fin fabric will be up on top of the skirt fabric.

Sew the two pieces together along the bottom edge. When you remove the pins the fin will fold down to show the "right side" of the fabric. Add the second fin by repeating the process on the other side. Turn the tail inside out and fold the top edge down about 1 and 1/2 inches to make a pocket for the elastic. Sew along the edge of the fold leaving a 2 inch opening in the back for the elastic to thread through.

Thread the elastic through the slot.

Overlap the two ends of the elastic together about 1 inch and sew them together. Sew the opening closed and you are finished!

Now your little girl and her doll can be part of Ariel's magical mermaid world this summer! It's a great way to create some vacation magic at home before and after your family vacation.

Take your little mermaid to "sea" all that is going on at the Disneyland Resort this summer! You'll love riding The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Under Sea Adventure and treating your kids to a delicious meal at Ariel's Grotto where Ariel and her princess friends come to you. Dive right in to get the best deal on your vacation including discounted tickets, reduced rates and exclusive extras. Book online or call our Disneyland vacation specialists at 855-GET-AWAY.

Check out these great articles:

20 Ways to Keep Cool at Disneyland this Summer
Frozen Fun Round Up
Disneyland Vacation Countdown Chain


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