Well, except for all the additional decorating and sequining and seaweed and such. But it's finished enough for Prime Time.
How to Make a Mermaid Tail
- 1 sheet of 3 mm dark green neoprene (I got mine from Seattle Fabrics)
- A Monofin - I got the "Rapid" from FINIS. If in doubt, get the bigger foot-size. You won't regret it.
- 1/2 yd of Clear, lightweight vinyl for the wiggly fins - I got mine at JoAnn Fabrics.
- A small piece of leather for the stomp-pad. I got a used leather jacket from a thrift store and cut it from that.
- Sparkly green spandex for the waistband
- Jones Tones Metallic 3-D paint in lots of colors - I got the 8.9 oz bottles of blue swirl, teal, jade, emerald, sage, moss, black metal, and ivory, and a smaller bottle of violet.
- Holographic glitter
- A big roll of 2" velcro
- 2 heavy duty snaps
- about 1 yard of 2" non-roll elastic for the waist band
- Heavy-duty upholstery thread and leather needles
- Pretty decorative thread for edging
- Paint brushes & sponges for painting
For the fluke, just be sure your monofin will fit snugly inside. Trace around it and add a little extra for seam allowance at the edges. Remember it'll get pretty thick around your ankles so leave plenty of room there too.
Then I sewed the side seams and tried it on. I did a lot of adjusting at this stage, getting the length right and the width right. It's hard to change any of that once the tail is painted, so I had to be pretty sure it was right.
The first place mermaid tails wear out is underneath the heels. We try and try NOT to stand up in our tails, but we're only human! (see what I did there?) It's kind of unavoidable if the tail gets a lot of use. So I worked a stomp pad into the design. I made it out of leather, cut from an old leather jacket I got at the thrift store for $5. I just basically traced the biggest teardrop shape I could from the biggest unbroken piece of leather in the jacket (the back) and cut it out. I edged it using a rolled edge stitch on my serger, then painted it.
This was a great place to practice and perfect my scale-painting technique. The Jones Tones paints are delightful - they're glue-based, and easy to work with and they shimmer and shine. I tried to use all the different colors in varying amounts to create a gradient effect. I sprinkled the whole thing with holographic glitter before the paint was dry, so the glitter is effectively part of the tail.
Wiggly Fins / Trim
|Fringes (taken after the tail was painted, but I sewed them on before painting)|
|Fluke, with clear fringes at the bottom and the stomp pad in place.|
When I was sure my upper tail fit well, I started the painting process. This took a Very. Long. Time. I masked the fringe fins, then did a couple thick paint coats along the edges first, to try and hide the seam lines a bit.
Then, starting at the bottom so they layered well, I painted the scales one at a time. I made sure to line them up in an arc, rather than in a straight line from left to right - scales should flow, not march like soldiers, wot? This was time consuming but SUPER satisfying.
In my design, the tail is lighter in the center and darker at the edges with a gradient effect. I think it turned out lovely.
|You can see where I had to piece the neoprene!|