My 3-year old daughter, egged on by Dora the Explorer, wanted a Homemade Mermaid Girl Costume. Apart from the obvious problem of making a tail that a little girl can run & climb in, I also didn’t want her to be going outside the house in a top that looked like a bra.

For the tail, I made a scooped front skirt, which swept down into a fishtail at the back. For the top, I used a pattern for a halter-neck top (Ottobre’s Floral Top pattern #7 from 02/05). I’ve given complete step-by-step instructions for the tail on my blog (lespetitsanglais) but this is a brief run-down of what I did:

I measured my girl’s waist, then measured from her waist down to her knee then to the floor. From these, I made the pictured pattern and cut it out in hologram satin. Make sure you keep the scooped out bit from the front because you will be using this to ‘face’ the back skirt.

I made the fins from a rectangle of satin lining about 50cm long and the same width as the bottom of the back. I cut diagonally across the rectangle to make two fins. I did the same with some crinkle organza and sewed them all together.

I attached the fins by finishing the scoop front skirt with a rolled edge, sewing the fins to the back hem. I then elasticated the back hem and top-stitched the scooped out piece to hide all the stitching and give the illusion that the front and back of the skirt flow into one. Then I sewed the side seams right side together.

I cut four spirals of nylon chiffon to make the drapey seaweed and attached them to the waist before adding the waistband. I made this out of a ribbing casing with elastic threaded through it. Finally, I attached a D-ring between the fins so that my daughter can carry the tail on a bangle for when she’s outside.

She loves it!