I love to see how much joy and empowerment my little one gets from making things. She has a craft/art nook in a sunny spot off our kitchen, and she can and does do quite a lot with toilet paper rolls, tape, pipecleaners, markers, glue and glitter. At one point she was suggesting I sew her some new underwear...which is awesome that she would want that, but honestly my crafting time is somewhat limited and I'd rather sew something that we can see and really appreciate. Jeez... it sounds kind of shallow writing that, but it's true.
Miss B. is in a theatre camp this week, just two hours each morning. She is loving it and has chosen to be a mermaid for the production. So...she will need a mermaid costume. We had recently passed on the mermaid costume she had outgrown...so to the sewing machine we go. We went through the dress-up box and our closets this afternoon and found quite a few mermaidy fabrics to repurpose and she is so, so excited. It's awesome that she really wants to help make it. Crafting with my girl. It is something I do treasure.
We ended up transforming an old adult bathing suit with an attached skirt into a mermaid dress with a tail extending down in the back.
Here's a tutorial of sorts. Miss B was so excited with the end result all photos of the child dressed actually wearing (twirling, cuddling, running, pretend swimming) are ridiculously blurry. Maybe mermaids can not be photographed? Will see if I can sneak up on her at some point.
Transform an Adult Swimsuit Into a Child's Mermaid Costume
You will need:
One adult bathing suit with attached skirt (ours was old and all stretched out : )
One child's short sleeved swim shirt
Ribbon or binding tape for straps
Sewing machine (not absolutely necessary)
Needle and thread
1. If there is a liner that you would like to remove, remove it. The suit we were working with had a flesh colored built in bra which we easily snipped away.
2. Flip the skirt up and lay the swimsuit flat. Cut below where the skirt attaches and down the side seams to free the front suit bottom. Miss B. did the cutting.
3. Fold the bottom down so it is extended out flat. You will now have an ah-ha moment as you see the tail beginning to take shape.
4. Take the swim tee and turn it inside out. Sew the neck shut as well as the end of the arms. If you want to give it a particular slant to look more tail-like feel free. Turn right side out and and insert the tail shaped bathing suit bottom into the now tail shaped swim shirt, to give the tail more heft and help hold the stuffing in place when you hand stitch/quilt it. The tail shaped insert should lay as flat as you can get it. Stuff the entire tail with stuffing until you have the thickness you want. I put two pipe cleaners in each fin to help get the shape I wanted, but in hindsight they probably weren't necessary.
5. With the skirt still flipped up pin the swim shirt bottom (which will be the top of the tail) to the back panel of the suit just below where the skirt attaches. You are basically reattaching the tail to where the suit bottom attaches to the back. I suppose I could have made this neater but I felt fine about sewing this with the wrong sides together...I mean it's a swim shirt and it's going to be hidden by the skirt anyway.
This seam is important. A mermaid certainly doesn't want her tail falling off in the middle of a song you know, so I stitched this seam twice for safety.
6. To give the tail some body and keep the stuffing from all lumping up at the bottom I hand-stitched/quilted it to give it some puckers.
7. Have your child try it on at this point to make sure the tail isn't too long, and then you can pin on ribbons for a criss-cross straps, and cut off the swim suit straps.
If you make one I'd love to see a picture. I would also love to see other mermaid costume ideas. This one won't last forever. I love this project as we had everything we needed for it on hand, and it all came together in one evening.
Miss B. was thrilled. She loves the fact that her tail is kind of fluffy like a pillow and keeps pulling it around to hug it. This initiated a whole conversation of the sleeping habits of mermaids. We're not sure if they sleep underwater, float on the water or hop up on a craggy rock. Any ideas? We do love mermaid lore.
Wishing you all a creative day with a splash of mermaid!