Easy DIY Mermaid Costume

When Tyson’s brother first invited us to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, I debated how much I wanted to get into it. I didn’t want to go all out, but I decided it might be fun to at least make Qwynn a simple costume. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money or a lot of time on it either, so I gave myself a $20 budget and headed to Michaels!

I knew that Michaels’ fabric selection was limited, but I was able to find 4 small squares of different green fabric designs. The problem is they didn’t have any fabric pieces large enough for the base of the mermaid skirt. I continued walking through the store and eventually came across the t-shirt section. Lightbulb!

What an inexpensive way to get a large piece of fabric! As I looked at the t-shirt more the vision just came to me—I turned it up side down and I now had a floor length skirt with a hemmed waist…essentially. I grabbed a light green small adult t-shirt and continued on. I found a piece of glittery pink felt that I thought would work perfectly for the seashell top. With my coupon (Michaels ALWAYS has coupons), my purchase total for everything was just under $10!

When I got home I searched through all my craft stuff to see what else I had that would be useful. I found some green ribbon left over from Qwynn’s first birthday. I also dug out Qwynn’s old pink sparkly skirt that was too small for her from the goodwill bag.


Now usually when I decide to make something like this, I end up spending so much more money than if I would have just bought it already made. My projects also seem to take wayyyy longer than I anticipate. This project however was so easy, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick it went and how little I spent on it.

For the mermaid skirt, I started by putting the t-shirt on Qwynn and pinning the sides to get an approximate fit.


I used the pins as a guide and drew my mermaid skirt shape.


I do not own a sewing machine and I wouldn’t be able to use it even if I did. Luckily I have discovered a wonderful thing called sewing tape! It is about $5-6 at Michaels, but with a coupon you could easily get it down to $3-4. The only other thing you need is an iron. I used the iron-on tape to “sew” the sides of the skirt and the bottom hem.

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I was originally going to make the fins out of the t-shirt and continue the scales all the way down, but I discovered that would make the bottom too tight and impossible for Qwynn to walk, so I cut the fins off. Instead, I cut approximately 1-inch strips of the fabric and hot glued them to the bottom of the skirt, layering them to get a full look. This was a great solution because I didn’t need to be very exact in cutting the strips since I was okay with a more ragged look. And it didn’t take long to hot glue them on either.


For the waist of the skirt I cut tiny slits in the collar ever two inches or so and thread the ribbon through it so I could tie it snug around Qwynn’s waist.

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The final step for the skirt was attaching the scales. I only covered the front to save time. I cut three different sized scales out of card stock to use as tracers for the fabric.


Tracing and cutting the scales was by far the most tedious part of the project, so if you are not a control freak like I am ;-), I suggest recruiting help. I attached all the scales by using about two-inch pieces of sewing tape along the top of each one.


For the seashell top, I used the sheer fabric from Qwynn’s old pink skirt, a small pink hair rubber band for the center, and shells cut from the pink felt. I attached the shells to the sheer fabric with hot glue.


Qwynn already had a light-colored t-shirt to wear under the shell top which was the final piece to the costume. That, and a big smile! 🙂


I am still so shocked at how smooth this project went and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out! Best of all, I came out way under my $20 budget!!

Valerie Anne

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