An incredibly detailed custom mermaid costume with detachable shells, created for a company that does special appearances at kid's birthdays as princesses, pirates, & such. Little did I know that this would be the most involving project that I have ever undertaken!
When sketching up the design I had a few things to keep in mind for example how it had to be appropriate for children, very wearable, have an adjustable size, yet still beautiful & well made. The owner of this company approached me for a custom piece because of how most mass produced costumes are not durable enough to withstand a few seasons of parties, or in her budget.
The final product consisted of three major components:
Step 1: Bodice
The first step in designing this project was to keep functionality in mind, since my client is going to be around children most of the time, it needs to be age appropriate. Usually mermaid costumes consist of just wearing a shell bra, but we did not want much skin to show. To solve this problem I created the outfit as a strapless gown, with shells attached to the bodice.
Outer bodice layer: Consisted of 7 pieces: center front, 2 side fronts, 2 side backs, 2 center backs with zipper allowance. Used nude colored fabric making up the princess seamed bodice, and an eyelet corset panel inserted between the center back & side back pieces. These panels would be on the outside of the invisible zipper, making it possible for the wearer to cinch it smaller, or let it out according to who is wearing it once you lace it up.
Boning: To add boning you simply leave 1" extra seam allowance to the inner layer pieces. This acts as the casing, and should be stitched shut once you are absolutely that you are happy with the length of each piece. For this I used a plastic style boning with a woven cover, sold by the yard at a craft store. Bought 1.75 just in case!
Bodice Lining: Made up of nude colored polyester lining fabric. Since this is a mirror image of the outer layer, construct it the exact same way, but add 1" seam allowance for the boning casing. Also stitched padding to the breast area to add to the hourglass shape we were trying to achieve, you can use bathing suit pads or something similar for this.
Combine! At this point I basted the inside + outside together, made sure the seams matched, and stay stitched to finalize them. Turn right side out, press, and top stitch the top edge for structure. Go ahead and baste the zipper edges & bottom together for security.