These mermaid tails are a super big hit with all the little girls I know, and they transform any 11 inch doll into a magical mermaid! You do not need super sewing skills to complete these but you will fare better if you do have some basic skills. You can use a sewing machine or hand sew these tails in no time. Lets make some Magic!
You will need:
About a half yard of a performance stretch fabric. This can be swim suit fabric, dance wear fabric or just a knit fabric with high stretch and good recovery. They usually have a decent amount of spandex in them. I found some shimmery pink and aqua in the dance wear section of Joann’s fabric store.
You will also need about 4 inches of either 3mm or 1/4 inch elastic (braided or woven)
Basic sewing/cutting supplies
Scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat (I love my big cutting mat it took me forever to decide to buy a big one and I haven’t regretted it! I store it vertically in-between my washer and dryer and it doesn’t take up any room!)
Needle/sewing machine and thread. While it’s usually best to use a ball point needle for stretch fabrics as it won’t snag your material, This stuff is really “bouncy” and using a universal needle works well. Use a good quality polyester thread here as it naturally has a little bit of stretch and a good amount of strength.
- Optional: You can use a light weight fusible interfacing if you want the fins on the tail to have more structure, but it is not necessary.
A few notes/tips:
Use a zig zag stitch, or stretch stitch to piece together your seams, as you want these to be able to stretch quite a bit without popping your seams. I just overcast a standard zig zag over my edges on this particular type of fabric. I also find that stretching my fabric a little bit while sewing helps prevent skipped stitches as this stuff has such a good recovery that my needle will just bounce off of the fabric without going through, hence skipped stitches.
You will need to print off this Mermaid tail pattern It is hand drawn (my apologies, but it will get the job done)
Here is what the process looks like:
Print out your mermaid tail pattern and cut out the tail(s). There are two versions here, notice the ends of the tails, one is turned up and one is turned down.
Fold your fabric (fold selvages together to make sure you are cutting with the grain) place your pattern piece on the fold and cut. I like this little rotary cutter for small cutting projects and detail cutting.
Cut two on the fold.
Here is what you will have when you unfold the fabric.
If you are using interfacing, You can use the pattern’s tail piece and cut a piece of light weight interfacing by folding it and placing your pattern on top, then trace the tail piece and cut out.
I love how they look like mustaches! Fuse onto the wrong side of your fabric on the tail fin part only. I am only doing one side but you can do two if you want.
I just kinda did a rough cut out here, you can be more precise if you would like. If you want it perfect, you can print an additional pattern and cut out the tail piece to use for the interfacing.
Next take your elastic and cut it a little longer than the top of the tail. (You could cut it exactly the same but I like to have something to hold on to)
Use a zig zag stitch and anchor elastic to fabric. Once you have a few stitches pull the elastic while you stitch across the remaining bit of fabric.
Note: if your fabric is getting pulled into your feed dogs, then start a little further in on the fabric. Sometimes sewing right on the edge you will have problems getting started.
Fold under once and then stitch across again.
This is what it will look like on the right side. Repeat for the other side.
Next with right sides together line up and pin pieces. Stitch around the edge. I use a zig zag with a 4.0 height and 2.2 width but you can decided to use different settings. I also find that I need to pull my fabric taught as I sew, because the needle bounces off of the performance fabric and will skip stitches like crazy, even with the correct needle.
Sew around the edge, it will look like this.
Then turn right side out.
A chop stick helps turn the tail fins out.
(I have a contrasting thread to show this V part) Sew a V on the tail then edge stitch (top stitch) around the whole tail part.
Here it is in pink instead of white, you can use contrasting thread to do this part if you want the details to stand out more.
Top stitch around the edge and then sew some lines within the tail fins for added detail.
Trim all of the loose treads and then you are all done! Try it on your doll and watch the “magical” transformation into a mermaid! These should fit most sized dolls, even the ones with big feet like our Moana doll. I will show a pattern for the bikini top that Elsa is wearing in another tutorial.