My daughter, Mathilda, had a costume parade for Book Week at her school recently. I was a bit stuck for costumes to make for her because it needed to be an actual character from a book, and most of the books we read here have dancing hippos or dinosaurs in them. And she didn’t really want to be either of those things.
And, most of the dress ups that I’ve made recently have nothing to do with books – they’re mostly to do with tv shows.
But, Mathilda came up with the idea all by herself to go as:
The Little Mermaid
And I thought that was a really good idea because it is an actual book character, its age appropriate (she’s 6), its fun – she’ll wear it again and again, and it was an easy costume to design and make.
Materials and Hardware
There are two parts to the costume, the skirt and the top. I used materials that I already had for both, nothing new was bought for this outfit.
- Slightly less than 1m sparkly blue dance fabric
- about 0.5m of shimmery fabric for the top
- shirring elastic
- gold metallic thread
- 10 or so wooden beads
- about 30 minutes for the skirt
- about an hour for the top (lots of shirring)
- plus the time it took for the embroidery design, which was about an hour
- Brother My Star 3
- Singer Futura CE350
- Lumina overlocker
I used the “30-Minute Mermaid Skirt” tutorial by girl.Inspired, this tutorial seems to be really popular on Pinterest, and it really did take only about 30 minutes!
I used the very last of the fabric that I bought last year to make the Elsa dress (didn’t everyone who sews for girls make one of those last year?). I had just the right amount, which was almost a metre, with some cut off one side. The fabric is not quite as stretchy as it should be for this skirt, so its not one for running or doing cartwheels in, but it worked really well for this costume. Its a blue-ish coloured self-sequined fabric that I got from the dance wear section of Spotlight.
As the pattern suggested, I didn’t hem the ruffle at the bottom, at it doesn’t need it. The only change I made to the pattern was that I added some elastic to the waist, Mathilda has no hips, she’s just straight up-and-down, and I wasn’t confident that the weight of the skirt would be enough for it to fall down.
To make the top I found this shimmery blue-green-purple fabric in one of my many boxes of fabric. It was only a scrap, but I managed to cut two rectangles out of it to make this top. I just stitched the rectangles together to make a tube, then did a rolled hem with the overlocker at the top and the bottom.
I used shirring elastic on the bobbin, and a gold metallic thread on top, and I stitched around and around and around from the top down. It took quite a while to do this, but the result is quite effective. I stopped about 10cm from the lower edge, this causes the remaining fabric to frill out really well, and although that wasn’t actually intended (it was more that I was bored with all the stitching around and around, then winding more shirring elastic onto the bobbin, and … repeating, again and again), it works quite well with the overall look and balance of the whole outfit.
The seashell at the front is an embroidery design from emblibrary.com. I stitched it onto a scrap of the same fabric I made the top out of, using gold metallic thread, and then cut around it carefully and very closely to the edge of the stitching. Then I just hand-stitched it to the front of the top. It turned out quite pretty I think.
To hold the top up, I added some straps made from strips of the shimmery fabric which I plaited and knotted and threaded with some wooden beads that I had floating around at the bottom of my sewing box. The straps just tie at the back of the neck.
This is my best attempt of a fishtail braid – this was on the day she wore the outfit for the book week parade.
She does need to wear something underneath the top, in this case a plain white t-shirt, both for modesty, and because it was still winter here. But she really likes the top because she can put it on herself.
And just because I wanted more photos
I didn’t get too many photos on the day she originally wore it, because it was the morning and we were rushing around trying to get everyone where they needed to be on time. So I got her to dress up in it all again and took some more photos one afternoon.
Thanks for reading.