Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Swimmable Mermaid Tail.


My nieces are avid competitive swimmers.  I'm pretty sure it's in their blood.  So, when I asked them what they wanted for their 11th birthday back in April, they told me they wanted a monofin.  This is a monofin.  It's a swimming fin that holds your feet together for the dolphin kick.  I think.

I've never  used a monofin, but I do have a set of flippers that I used when I casually swam occasionally (very occasionally) in a feeble attempt at fitness and weight loss.  Wearing swim fins is the easiest way to feel like you are swimming super fast.  Suddenly I was Dara Torres - in my head.  There are multiple varieties of monofins, and it doesn't matter which one you choose.  But you will need the fin in hand before you start your project.

Anyway, back to my story.  My nieces also showed me a couple of videos on YouTube where people had made mermaid tails using spandex fabric that made you look and swim just like a mermaid.  They were particularly excited about this.  For their birthdays we gave them the fins and the fabric, and a few weeks later they came over to do the sewing.

For the fabric, I did a lot of shopping around looking for mermaid-esque stretchy waterproof fabric.  Ultimately I ordered from this website.  You want something with a 4-way stretch that is also waterproof.  If it's chlorine resistant, then that is a bonus.  Locally, the fabric store only had 2 bolts of swimsuit fabric and it was in no way reminiscent of a mermaid.

To start, I had each of them lay on a piece of paper wearing their fin.  I then traced out the pattern.  This does not need to be precise.  In fact, our patterns were pretty rough.  Next, we traced the pattern onto the fabric using chalk or a pencil or a fabric pen.  Note that this is going to be your sewing line - not your cutting line!
DIY Mermaid Tail for Swimming
If your fabric stretches more in one direction make sure the stretchiest part goes across.
I pinned the fabric in a few places so that it wouldn't slip during sewing.  The girls took turns using the sewing machine and sewing along the lines with a zigzag stitch.  Very carefully, the girls cut along the seams leaving a bit of an allowance (about an inch?) and a few extra inches at the top (for a waistband) and an inch or two hanging off the tail (this will ensure that the fin is hidden and will just flap along while swimming).

Finished Mermaid Tails.jpg
It's very hard to  put your tail on and perch on the arm of the couch.
That's it.  We left the bottom open so that it's easy to get on and off.  I did go back down the side seams to reinforce them.  We didn't even make a casing and sew in elastic as I had planned.  The tails are snug enough that they really didn't seem to be going anywhere.  But we could still add it easily enough.  The entire project took us an hour or so.

Now the hard part is getting in and out of the fin and tail.  If you are poolside, then you want to carefully put the fin on while sitting on the edge of the pool and then wiggle into the tail.  If you discover a graceful way to do this, please let me know.  But it is easier in the water than in the living room.

DIY Mermaid Tail - Putting it on. jpg
The Iowa mermaid wiggles into her tail.
The amount of fabric will depend on the length of the tail.  Measure from the waist to pointed toes plus the length of the fin plus a few inches just in case.  I ordered (and paid for) 3 yards of fabric, but ended up receiving 4 after a backorder and communications issue on the part of the vendor.  With 4 yards of fabric, 3 tails were made: 2 for my nieces and the rest of the fabric went to one of their friends who made the 3rd tail.

DIY Mermaid Tail in Action.jpg
This mermaid can swim.

WARNING:  It should go without saying, but I'm gonna say it anyway.  Swimming with your feet and legs bound together is not for the novice swimmer and should only be done under adult supervision - preferably an adult who can, you know, swim.

P.S. I used a new online photo editing software for this post.  It's Pixlr.  And I like it.  Even though I might have gotten a little carried away here.

3 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Emily said...

They are very lucky girls and have used the mermaid tails often. In fact there were three mermaids at City Park pool today. Thank you thank you!

Nina said...

Thank you for this post! My daughter's birthday is coming up and our theme is mermaids...i wanted to make her a tail but everything i saw until now was for out of water use. The link for the fabric was very helpful as well!

Liz said...

My son is a huge mermaid fan - he may need one of these this summer!

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