If your little girls are obsessed with all things mermaid, this is THE tutorial for you. There is just something so enticing and mysterious about mermaids and my girls could play “mermaids” for hours, how about yours? Whether your daughter likes dress-up or she’s searching for the perfect Halloween costume, this 30-minute mermaid skirt tutorial is sure. to. please.
To make this mermaid skirt, you will need a stretchy knit – it looks super cute with a regular jersey knit, it can also be made with a lycra/spandex/swimsuit material for a great costume effect! You will need just a small amount of fabric – less than a yard for most children’s sizes. For the quickest construction, use a ruffling foot to gather the fabric for the bottom skirt ruffle and a serger to sew the three seams. Of course, you can gather the skirt ruffle without a ruffling foot and you can sew the seams with your regular machine – and still finish in less than 30 minutes. (be sure to use ball-point needles on your machines and a zig-zag stitch if you use a regular machine)
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
You will need two measurements to make the skirt – your child’s hip measurement and the length from her waist to her ankle. Cut one piece of fabric into a rectangle for the main skirt portion. The width (the direction of the most stretch) should be the hip measurement – 2 inches. The length of the rectangle should be the waist to ankle measurement – 4″.
a strip for ruffling that is 4″ by 2X the width of the skirt rectangle (or 2 x hip measurement-2″)
A waistband piece that is 4″ by the width of the skirt.
Begin by cutting a curve along the ruffling strip and the skirt piece. Fold the skirt in half lengthwise. Fold the ruffling strip in half, bringing the short ends together. Now cut a curve along the bottom (non-folded) corner of both of these pieces. Just eyeball it so that you have a smooth curve rounding off the corners (about 4-5″ up the side of the skirt piece).
Now ruffle the long strip. Feed it through your ruffling foot for super speediness. Be sure to leave the threads long on each end of the ruffle to redistribute the gathers to fit the skirt if needed. If you do not have a ruffling foot, stitch a long basting stitch down the length of the ruffle, pull the bobbin threads to gather the strip. Either way, the gathered strip should be the same length now as the bottom of the skirt piece. Match the gathered side of the ruffle strip to the bottom edge of the skirt, right sides together. Pin in place (or don’t, just check to make sure the length is the same). Stitch or serge the ruffle to the bottom of the skirt. No need to hem!
Turn down the attached ruffle.
Fold the skirt in half with right sides in and match the two sides. Stitch or serge from the top of the skirt down to where the ruffle seam is – do not stitch the two ends of the ruffle strips together.
Set the skirt aside for a moment and grab the waistband piece. Match the two short ends, right sides together and stitch (or serge!!!) to form a tube.
Fold the tube in half along its length to form the waistband.
With the skirt right side out and the waistband on the outside of the skirt, match the seamline in the waistband to the center back of the skirt. Pin the waistband to the skirt, matching raw edges (the folded edge of the waistband will be facing down toward the hem). The waistband should be the same circumference as the skirt, but be sure that the two are pinned evenly around the whole waistband.
Serge together (or stitch – be sure you’re using a zigzag stitch)
And that is it!! Wasn’t it quick and easy?
Mermaid perfect in no time!
Gold and White Polka Dot Fabric can be found at Michael Levine, here.
Blue and Grey stripe knit can be found at Girl Charlee, here.
Teal knit from my local Joann.
Comments & Reviews
Thank you for this! My daughter loves her costume. I sewed on sequins (more densely toward the bottom of the ruffle and less dense further up) to make it look more scale-like, and it’s perfect.
Hi! What is your seam allowance? I usually do 1/2” on my server, but when I was about to do that, the ruffle seemed awfully narrow to me so I did zero. I’d love to know what you do! Thank you!
Great tutorial well done!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!
I just made three of these. The first one was a fail because I had inadvertently rotated the fabric so the stretch side was up and down. It will make a cute mini dress for a baby. The second one went so well, I even finished it within the 30 min (odd for me, because Im always getting interrupted. The third one was by far the best. I added extra ruffle length and used velour (or something like it). Man, what a great pattern! Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for this. I love it and will be making this for my granddaughter. Looking forward to following all the other untutorials you share!
I made this skirt this weekend for my daughters Under the Sea 5th birthday party. I found the perfect green foil stretch to use and paired with a purple bikini top she looked the perfect part! Thank you for such an easy and complete tutorial!!!
EAGER to make this but just wondering before I cut if I understand the measurements correctly. So I measure around the hips and cut the fabric LESS two inches? It just seems as though this would make it extremely tight after stitching together. THANKS
Hi Linda – as long as you’re using a good, stretchy knit, the 2 inch LESS measurement will be snug around the little ones’ waists and hips – and when they’re transforming into their mermaid selves, they’ll love it!
Would it work to not ruffle it but rather just do a flounce?
Absolutely love this…but question about measurement and cutting of fabric….is it hip measurement -(minus 2) or what does the “-” sign mean? I’m a little confused… Newby sewer!
Yes, Lauren, “-” is minus, good question! Have fun!
Molly Brown says
Pardon my ignorance ….. and I do sew and quilt! The directions say “hip measurement “minus” 2 inches? Is that so the mermaid skirt is stretched tight around the hips? I understand you would take 4″ off the skirt piece to account for the ruffle, correct?
Thanks for your help. Trying to make one of these for my grand-daughter’s 5th “Little Mermaid” birthday party!
You got it! As long as you’re using a good, stretchy knit, subtracting the 2 inches from the waist measurement will give the skirt a nice fit around the hips and waist! Have fun! Your granddaughter will love it!
Thank you for asking this!! Up late doing last minute birthday sewing and I had the same confusion. You saved my bacon haha! 🙂
Your tutorial ist amazing, I make complet costume for my daughter. Thank your and greetings from Germany,