I accidentally a mermaid.
I had no plans to create the mermaid version of Ariel until the summer when the weather and ocean water is warmer here in Victoria, but then an opportunity for amazing photos came along and there was no way I could resist. Husband and I were to attend my company’s annual conference in the Dominican but it was cancelled last minute, so we opted to plan our own trip to Cuba. We booked it on a Monday with plans to fly out that Saturday, and it didn’t occur to me until Wednesday that since the trip was no longer work-sponsored I could be as weird as I wanted. I had contemplated making mermaid!Ariel and taking it to the conference to get beach photos, but this would also have been the first time I met everyone else in the company nationwide and figured introducing myself while wearing a mermaid fin might be awkward.
So along came Wednesday and I realized I had everything sitting in various bins at home to put together the mermaid version of Ariel, and enough room in my suitcase to fit the fin. I am nothing if not determined, and by the time I got home from work that day I had already started drafting up my tail. Since I was working quickly I didn’t take many photos, but what I do have I will post!
With Devin’s help I stuck a giant piece of tape from my waist down to my ankles along the side of my leg, and than had him measure around my body every two inches and mark it on the tape. The tape was then put in the middle of some brown craft paper and I drew out the measurements til I had a passable shape that would fit my body snugly. At the bottom by my ankle measurement I placed my mermaid fin over the paper and traced around it to get the complete shape.
The mermaid fin! Last summer, after a few beers, I ended up purchasing a monofin on eBay. My monofin came from FinFunMermaid and it’s the adult sized ‘pro’ version. It’s actually surprisingly easy to swim with, but when maneuvering in a full tail across sand it gets a bit awkward. Also holy crap does it accumulate sand when in the ocean.
Once I had my complete shape, I drew a little V by my ankles to separate the colours, with the emerald green spandex being the majority of my legs and then lime green for the tail. Everything got cut out and then assembled with a straight stretch stitch and serged on the inside. The waist was a bit looser than I’d intended, so I ended up putting it on inside out to re-mark where I’d prefer the seams and then stitching it up again.
I should point out that the blue monofin showing was irritating me, but that gap needs to be open for water to flow through and not weigh down the tail. I ended up stitching some lime green spandex straight onto the monofin so that it would blend in. You’ll be able to see later when the tail is wet! It was a lot easier than I thought it would be getting this together, so I set the tail aside to get started on the shells for the bra. I still had padded hip fins to do, but the shell paint would need time to dry and then cure in the oven.
I picked up some porcelain acrylic paint at Michaels and started painting my shells. I did a few coats of light purple on the inner parts, then used a darker purple along the outside to blend into the lighter center. Once I was happy with the colour I brushed on some lilac AB glitter and then popped them in the oven to cure as per the directions on the paint.
After baking and cooling, I decided the shells needed to be more sparkly. I have more rhinestones laying around my house than I know what to do with, so I used some E6000 glue and added crystal AB, turquoise AB and tiny pearls all over the shells.
The bra was an easy thing to do as well, I took purple lycra and stretched it over the cups til it sat like the bra fabric did and then hand stitched them over the cups. I found this way preferable to machine stitching as I didn’t have to worry about the underwire, and it didn’t leave a visible seam on the cups. The sides were just covered with more lycra and then zig-zagged on. The straps are done like a spaghetti strap, but I left the tubes wide enough to feed the actual bra straps through.
The padded hip fins were a bit of a chore and I sadly didn’t photograph that part, but I am very happy with how they came out. I made two long ovals for each side and then sewed them together at a point for the front. They were stuffed with ripped up strips and pieces of tulle I had laying around, and then straight stretch stitched along the waistband. I also zig zagged some bathing suit elastic right underneath it to help keep it upright.
Because I am not entirely sane, I packed up the tail, shell bra, starfish hair combs and my Ariel wig and took them to Cuba like it’s a totally normal thing to bring a mermaid costume on vacation.
On our last night at the resort I got all Ariel’d up and marched down to the beach with my fin in tow. It’s a bit awkward to wiggle into as I have to put the fabric tail on first, followed by stuffing my feet into the monofin and then stretching the fin fabric over it. People were definitely staring at me like I was a bit nuts, but it was totally worth it. Once I had the fin on I kinda shuffled my butt down into the water, and then a couple of little girls came over to see me. Very cute!
Awesome husband took several photos while I rolled around along the shoreline, and we had a blast. Totally worth the weird looks on the way to the beach.