This project came as a request from my daughter and niece. I included them in the whole process to show them that your imagination and a little ingenuity can provide you with real tangible results. Apparently all they got out of the project was that Daddy/uncle Ryan can do anything... I guess I'm okay with that too ;) Oh and yes this is a swim able version with adult supervision required!
Step 1: Gather Your Equipment
1. Scissors for fabric cutting 2. Pins 3. 1 to 2 yards of stretchy fabric 4. Roll of paper or news paper taped together 5. Sewing machine and or serger 6. Fabric pencil or tailors chalk 7. Monofin kids (see link below) 8. Elastic for the waste http://www.amazon.ca/gp/aw/d/B001GQ2CE4/ref=mp_s_a_1_fkmr1_1?qid=1379870601&sr=8-1-fkmr1π=AC_SX110_SY165
Step 2: Tracing for the Pattern
This step requires having the mono fin. Get the person who the mermaid tail is intended for put on their mono fin and lie down on the roll of paper. Now trace an out line of their body and the fin. Try to be accurate at this point, don't add extra yet. Be sure to mark where the hips are.
Step 3: Creating Your Pattern
Now that you have an outline we need to add a bit extra for the actual pattern before we cut it out. Add 3.75 Centimeters or 1.5 Inches all the way around the tracing except at the top of the pattern you will want to double that. Try to make sure that there is enough fabric around the ankles for the mono fin to squeeze through later at the end.
Step 4: Place the Pattern
This part is really important! Your fabric will be really stretchy in one direction and not so stretchy the other direction. You need to arrange the pattern so that the waist is stretchy so it's easy to get in and out of. That stretchy side ways or horizontally. Also make sure there are two layers of fabric under your pattern.
Step 5: Cut It Out
Once you placed your pattern and pinned it to the fabric every 8 to 10 inches. Grab your scissors and cut out your tails.
Step 6: Sewing Time
Once your tails are all cut out its time to sew. I used a serger with a 3mm tight stitch but a regular sewing machine would work too with a zig zag stitch. Now I highly recommend that you do some stitch tests first to make sure your happy with your tension settings and stitch type. I actually made a couple of tube tops first just to get the hang of sewing with the fabric first. When sewing the two mermaid tail pieces together keep close to the cut. It is likely you will smooth out some of your contours while cutting. That is fine. You can have your subject try it on, make some marks and sew section tighter if need be.
Step 7: The Waist
The last piece is the waist belt. You have left about 3 or 4 inches at the top. I recommend getting your subject to try on the tail at this point then fold and mark where the waste belt will go. Once you get the tail back, sew around the waste with regular stitch and leve an inch or a few centimeters open to push the elastic through. To push the elastic through I used a safety pin attached to one end. I would push it through a bunch of fabric, hold the pin and then pull. Be sure to untwist it before hand stitching it closed. Also don't forget to stitch an overlap of the elastic together too.
Step 8: Finishing Up
At this point you are pretty much done! Take your fin and stretch the tail around it. I had to kind of roll the mono fin up to push it through the ankle area. Troubleshooting Again make sure your fabric stretches the right way! You will want to be careful that the fin can fit through the ankle area of the tail. If your stitch isn't looking right check the tension and you might want a smaller stitch other wise it will show too much after its worn a few times.