Saturday, October 17, 2009

Doll Mermaid Tail Tutorial

I've had so much fun and learned so much from all the scrapbuster tutorials over at the Sew Mama Sew blog this month, I decided to share one of my own. As I've mentioned before, my daughter Allison loves all things mermaid. She has one mermaid Barbie doll, but that mermaid got lonely with all those landlubbers around. I decided to make some tails for the other dolls so the mermaid would have some friends!

First I made a merman, then a merbaby, and now we have 6 or 7 mermaids swimming around! These take just a small bit of fabric, so they are a great quick stashbusting project. This will work for any size doll, teddy bear, or even a younger sibling. (Wouldn't that be the cutest bunting? Now I need a newborn!)

This is my first tutorial ever, so please let me know if anything needs clarification. All images are clickable to a larger version.

Start with the particular doll you are making the tail for. I noticed pretty quickly that the Barbies tend to have different body shapes. Allison's Barbies are all Disney Princesses; maybe "regular" Barbies have standard dimensions. So you need the doll, two scraps of fabric roughly 9 x 3 inches, thread and a piece of narrow elastic long enough to go around the dolls waist with about 1/2 inch of overlap. See, you can even use elastic scraps! Warning: Partial Barbie nudity ahead! (Although she does have those classy plastic undies on.)

Lay the doll on the wrong side of the fabric, with the top just above her waist and the bottom a couple of inches below her feet. Trace the doll's shape about 1/4" out from her body. Don't worry about the contours too much. When you get to the widest part of her hips, draw your tracing lines straight up from there- Don't trace her waistline or you'll never get the waistband over those hips. As you get to her feet, draw in the bottom fin shape. Just eyeball it, it's a simple shape and you can determine if you want long narrow flippers, short roundy ones, or however you like!

Your traced line is your sewing line. Now cut out the tail, leaving 1/4" or so seam allowance beyond your traced line. Sew along your traced line.

Now try the tail on your doll. Make sure you can get the tail over the hips relatively easily.
Yay! It fits!

Once you're sure the tail will fit, finish the edges. You could zig zag or serge them, but I prefer to just pink the edges to cut down on bulk at the seams.
Fold the top hem over twice, to create a casing for the elastic. I used very narrow elastic, so my casing is only about 1/4" wide. Just make your casing as wide as you need for the elastic you have on hand. Sew the casing closed, leaving a small opening to insert your elastic.

I turned my tail right side out first, I just find it easier to sew such a tiny loop that way. Do whatever works for you! When you do turn it right side out, use a turner or knitting needle to poke out the ends of the tail and edges of the "legs," then press.

Put a small safety pin in one end of your elastic and feed it through your casing.

Overlap the ends of your elastic by about 1/2" and stitch them together. I suppose you could machine sew this, but I find it easier to just do a few stitches by hand.

Sew up the opening in your waistband, et voila! A custom made (Barbie is accustomed to couture, after all!) mermaid tail for your favorite little girl's doll!


  1. That is really cute! hehe Barbie nudity and merman!

  2. Carin from Margaret's Hope Chest here saying thanks for joining us and Craft Hope on this project. Together we will make our goal of 400 quilts! The work of your hands will bring hope to a child in Michigan!

  3. Thanks for the tute! I made one for my daughter tonight, she loves it :)

  4. Love this idea, so cute. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I found you on Sew Mama Sew scrapbusters and I'm so glad I'm not the only mama out there with a mermaid obsessed daughter. My girl will be so happy when all her Disney princess dolls get to journey under the sea together. Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. Oh.My.Gosh. A super simple tutorial that my little one will LOVE. Thanks!


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