It’s beach time, so of course every doll needs a decent mermaid suit. Here’s how to make one using an old knit tee-shirt. You’ll need an adult tee shirt (or 1/4 yard knit fabric), a felt square and some felt scraps, needle and thread, embroidery thread, one set of sew-on snaps and a 2mm thick sheet of craft foam. Also, some paper and pencil to make a pattern.
No sewing machine required–just handwork with a needle and thread.
Get started by laying the doll on the paper and tracing from waist to ankles for the skirt of the suit. Be sure to hold the pencil straight up and down so you get an accurate measurement. Add 1/2-inch on both sides for seams. Since the knit fabric is a bit stretchy it will fit the doll smoothly.
Add a nice flippy fin to the bottom of the skirt pattern. Cut out the pattern. Lay the tee-shirt flat on the table, smoothing out wrinkles. Place the pattern on top, pin in place, and cut out two body pieces at once.
Go back to the paper pattern and cut the fin off of the skirt at the ankle. Use that paper pattern to cut out one fin from the foam sheet. Trim about 1/4-inch all around the fin edge so it will fit inside the suit.
Pin the two suit pieces together with the wrong side of the fabric, which was the inside of the tee shirt, on the outside. After stitching, you’ll turn it so the good side is on the outside with the seam hidden inside the suit.
With matching thread, stitch all around the outside seam of the suit, from one side waist to the other. Use a back stitch for best results, making small even stitches. Use scissors to make clips in the seam fabric (but not through the stitching) at the curves of the ankle and fin. That way it will lie smooth when you turn it right side out. Fold under an inch at the top waist and stitch it down so you have a waistband. Try it on the doll and stitch a few tucks at the waist if it is too loose.
Make the top from a felt square. If you’re using an 18-inch doll, just fold the square to make a triangle and cut on the fold. For other dolls, wrap the felt to figure out where to trim it. Sew snaps on the back corners of the top. Use embroidery thread to make a blanket stitch on the top edge so the felt won’t stretch out of shape.
Add some felt flowers: draw the flower, center, and leaf shapes on felt and cut out. With a needle and thread, stitch through the center of the flower a few times to hold it all together, then stitch in place on the top. Stitch or glue a flower to a hair clip for the doll’s hair.
Now, where’s the beach?
Mermaid in a sweater? If she’s on the Oregon Coast this year, she’ll need a sweater! My next blog will show how to steek a knitted sweater, doll-size.