Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mermaid costume endnotes

Mermaid, mermaid, blah, blah blah. Anyone who's talked to me in the past month has had their fill of hearing about sewing this costume. Still endnotes are productive for future projects, and for anyone interested in sewing something similar--maybe I can save you the time of reinventing the wheel.

So, here are a some notes on the costume making, for those of you who are interested in such things...

A few lessons learned:
  • Ada's scaly blue tail was a perfect fit, but because I sewed a blue sequin border where the blue tail meets the fin, we lost some of the stretchiness of the blue scaly fabric there. As a result, Ada had a bit of a challenge walking.

  • I made the cape with the idea that it was going to be cold, and, for the first time in decades, it wasn't. The evening temperature was around 68 degrees! Fortunately, the cape is something that will work for magician play, or fancy dress, and it's reversible. I'm hoping she gets more use out of it.
  • As I was attaching the bodice to the scaly tail, I realized they didn't match: the bodice was too wide, and the tail was too narrow. After some reading, I realized I could probably make a few darts in the bodice to decrease the waistline. I had no idea how to do this, so--more reading. After some fiddling around with samples, and lots of ripped stitches, I got four darts into the waist, and--big grin here!--it worked.

  • The biggest time-eater was sewing a lot of this by hand, from attaching all the sequin tape to putting the layers of the bodice and tail together. My hand sewing is atrocious, but maybe it got a little better with the can only hope.
  • The fin was tough to fit onto the scaly tail--it flattened out at first, so I sewed a little triangular piece to each side to make it more circular (essentially I made two gusset-like pieces, I think), and then suddenly it had dimension.
  • I did decorate an old pair of shoes for the costume, too. I used pale pink sequined tape, glitter, and some little shells. But because I glued all of this onto the shoe--they were too stiff! Ada shuffled around a bit and admired them, and then we decided to just keep them as a decoration.

My favorite parts of the costume:
I really love the entire cape. It's hangs well because it's got some weight to it. I used a heavier silk lining for the dark blue, and then I used batting between the layers to add warmth and heft. And I was pleased with how the ruffled collar came out. It was my first stabilized collar, and yay! It worked. My favorite part of the cape, though, are the plackets on the cape armholes. I taught myself how to make these, so I don't know if they are technically right, but I think they look really nice, and they make the cape look that much more elegant on Ada.

I lined the entire costume with a green stretch satin, and I loved the color so much I wanted to pull it through other elements. I made the piping for the arms and neckline with some of the sparkle organza wrapped around the green satin. I really liked this, and I'm going to find a way to use this fabric again.

I also used the satin to make a little tape to ruffle out around the edge of the bodice. It's tiny next to the piped border, but I think it's a sweet little detail.

The tail is really fun, and was neat to watch come together. I used four colors of an sparkly organza called "fairy dust." To make the tail, I used an interfacing base, and then added layers of different colors. Then, for the flowing part of the tail, I used unfaced bits of organza just cut in wispy shapes. We lost a few of these on the trek through the neighborhood, but that's okay--it still looked fishy!

If you are sewing your own mermaid costume, I would be happy to offer any advice--drop me an email!

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