Thursday, November 14, 2013

DIY (No-Sew*) Mermaid Tutu Costume

Before officially wrapping up Halloween-related posts, I wanted to write a couple more about our Little Mermaid Family Costumes this year. This was the first year that all of our costumes were homemade (look at me! It's like I'm a real live Mom now!), and of course, I made that happen with lots of help from Google and Pinterest. In the end, it was fun and cost-effective, and we were quite pleased with the end result. So, as I have done before, I thought I would "pay it forward," so to speak, and share my final methods with the Internet, in case anyone is searching for similar inspiration.

Today I will share how I made Ellie's mermaid tutu costume, and tomorrow I'll share my Ursula costume, the makings of Eric's Prince Eric costume and Achilles' King Triton Dog costume.

***CLICK HERE to see Ursula, Prince Eric and King Triton tutorials!***

Without further ado:


DIY Mermaid Costume

*: I put the asterisks by "no-sew" because I did sew one small OPTIONAL decorative detail onto the costume. However, you could definitely make this without ever pulling out a needle and thread.

Supplies and Cost Breakdown:

  • 10" purple crochet headband for top: $3.60 (including shipping, from
  • Two spools (20 yards each) of plain tulle (blue and green): $2.99 x 2 (from Michael's)
  • One spool (10 yards) green glitter tulle: regular price $3.99, but with 40% off coupon: $2.39 (from Michael's)
  • 5/8" ruffle trim elastic for straps: $1.99 (Michael's)
  • Purple flower: $2.99 (Hobby Lobby)
  • Gemstone for center of flower: $1.50 (Hobby Lobby)
  • Pearl string trim for skirt: $1.99 (Hobby Lobby)
TOTAL COST: $20.44

A couple notes about the supplies and cost:

At the time of Halloween, my daughter was 19 months old. She was 34.25 inches tall and weighed about 25.5 lbs. I purchased 50 total yards of tulle and had nearly half that left over. I would say probably 35 yards would be ideal for a girl of my daughter's size. Hopefully you can use that information and Ellie's measurements to estimate what you need for your own child. Obviously, an older child may require an extra spool or two. How much you need is also dependent on how full you want the skirt.

Also, as I said, I purchased 50 yards worth of tulle in total, and had nearly half that left over. Two spools probably would have been plenty (one might have even been enough), but I opened and used some of three different spools just to have three different colors in the skirt. If you wanted to cut costs, you could go with a solid color skirt to cut down on the number of spools needed and ensuing waste.

You might also cut costs on the trim/details, if you so choose. For example, you don't need the pearl ribbon trim in the skirt; it was a personal preference thing for me. You don't need a gemstone in the middle of the flower, or maybe you can find one that is already adorned. Or, maybe you even already have a hair flower in your possession that would work just fine. Or, go without the flower all together. And so on. Suffice it to say, you can make it as fancy or as simple as you'd like, and your cost will likely adjust accordingly.

Finally, going back to sizing considerations for a moment, I should mention that I ordered a 10" purple crochet headband to use as the top of the costume. I had planned to fold it in half, but in doing so, it only came about halfway down my daughter's belly. Unfolded it was a couple inches longer than I would have liked (almost to the top of her thighs), so I ended up folding it up a couple of inches. A 10" band is probably perfect for an older child, whereas a child Ellie's size or smaller may want to size down.


First, I measured my daughter to determine the desired length of the skirt and cut strips of tulle. I measured her from the point at her waist that I wanted the skirt to start, down to her ankles. I then doubled that number and added one inch (length x 2 + 1 inch), and that is how long I cut each strip of tulle. (So, if I wanted the skirt to be 15" long, I would cut the tulle into 31" strips.) I went ahead and cut each of my tulle spools ahead of time, using this method.


You will use the crochet headband as the top part of the dress. As I mentioned above, I folded the top over to "hem" it to the length I wanted and pinned it in place.


Next I attached the tulle to the crochet headband. The headband has lovely little holes which make this process very easy. Take one tulle strip, fold it in half, and thread the folded side through the holes at the bottom of the headband (because I was "hemming" mine, I made sure to thread it through holes on both parts of the folded section). Don't pull it all the way through; leave the folded loop partially through the headband.


Then, pull the non-folded end of the tulle strip up and thread it through the loop.


Pull tight to form a knot. Ta-da! One tulle strip is attached and the skirt is officially underway.


Repeat this process all the way around the base of the headband, threading a tulle strip through every other hole. I varied my use of the green, blue and glitter tulle strips in a random pattern and also used the same method to attach a few strands of pearl ribbon for added detail.

Next, I added the straps. I cut the ruffled elastic to my desired length and threaded one end through the center of the bodice near the top several times, like so:


When I pulled the elastic tight, it gathered the center of the bodice a bit, creating a slight sweetheart neckline:


To secure the elastic to the back of the dress, I simply knotted it in place where I wanted it.

I also stitched the gemstone to the center of my flower and attached the flower to the gathered part of the bodice with a little twist-tie piece that came with it. You might also use a hair flower with a clip, or glue a flower on, or thread it in with your elastic. For me, the twist-tie was immediately available and easy!

And that's all there is to it! The whole thing took me probably about an hour, maybe less. Here's a look at the finished product:


I will say, I very seriously considered cinching the skirt as shown in this tutorial, but given that my toddler is still pretty new to the whole walking thing, I didn't want to risk tripping her up. She had plenty of room to move in this skirt, as evidenced by her frolicking on the beach in it!

However, as you can see below, the skirt was pretty sheer:


I tossed around the idea of adding another layer of tulle to help that a bit but ultimately didn't want any more "pouf," so my Little Mermaid just ended up wearing white leggings underneath it and that was perfectly fine. We also accessorized her with a red hairbow, clear blue jellies I found at a consignment shop and a stuffed Flounder from the Disney Store.

And if I do say so myself, we ended up with one cute mermaid!

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about the making of this costume, and if you're looking to do the full family ensemble, please see tomorrow's post about Ursula, Prince Eric and King Triton!


Meghan said...

Holy cow! I am majorly impressed by your skill and creativity. Ellie looks AWESOME.

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