Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mermaid Tails For EVERYONE! Plus an Open Back Tutorial!

The most useful tutorial I found this winter was the FREE Made for Mermaids mermaid tail pattern/tutorial.  It is seriously a fast sew, and turns out super cute!  The pattern includes sizes for small and large child sized, but if you leave the tail open, and do the band so it folds up, it will fit even small adults!  I ended up making 7 total, 1 doll, 2 child, 2 small adult, and 2 adult with open backs. 

My first attempt - I did the doll sized one so I could make sure I understood the pattern!
To make it for 'not so small' adults, I came up with a way to leave the back open.  It's also great for people that don't want to or can't wiggle into the tail, so it's like a lap blanket with a pocket for your legs and feet.

To make sure you have plenty of coverage, I only cut the selvage off the main piece and the top band, making sure they are the same width.  I still cut the band to the height measurement in the tutorial, but instead of cutting out 2 pieces for the body and 2 for the band, I did one larger piece for each.  There definitely isn't enough left to make a doll sized tail for this size.

My model had too much fun playing with the bigger tail!
Alternate sewing instructions for an open back and bigger size:
Fold the body fabric in half and cut off the selvage. (1 yard is good for lap blanket sized, for a taller person or closed tail maybe go up to 1 1/2 or 2 yards)
Fold the band fabric in half and cut the selvage off.   Cut 18"xWOF (width of Fabric) for the band.
--The body and band should be the same width, if not, trim them down until they are the same width.
Cut the tail per the instructions, using the pattern from M4M

Prepare the tail per the instructions - I do it open for extra length, but it is up to you.  Set the tail aside.
One of my better fin detail attempts...

Fold the band hot dog bun style - right sides together, so the 2 long cut sides are touching, right sides together.  Sew both short ends shut with a 1/2" seam allowance, turn right side out, poking the corners out.  Fold the top piece in half so that the 2 sewn ends touch, and fold the body piece in half, matching the middles and pin them together.  The body piece should be about 1/2" longer than the band piece on each side.  (If they are close to the same size, flip the band inside out, and resew a new seam on one end in about 1", trim off the old seam, and flip back right side out.  You can keep going in if you need to.  Or go in more if you want to be able to double fold your opening seam)  Attach the top piece to the body, sewing them right sides together if you are flipping up, or wrong sides together if you are folding down.

Measure down 18" from the top of the body (where the body and top band meet) and make a small mark with washable marker (or just eyeball it when you are sewing)  Fold the body right sides together and sew the seam shut, starting at the bottom and stopping at the 18" mark.  Make sure your thread is locked by back-tacking because this is going to be a stress point!  Turn the tail right side out.  For a fast finish, fold your edge under all the way up to the top, then stitch about 1/4" in from the edge.  If you use fleece, it won't fray and you can just trim off any extra to make it look nice.  Or you can finish the edge however you want.

The back seam is just folded over, but if you do a double fold, that edge will look even better.
Most people won't be looking at the seam since it will be almost under you.  Fleece doesn't fray, so a simple straight stitch is fine!
Now you should have a rectangle with a top band.  Align it so that the sewn edge is the middle of the back.  Fold the body in half  - the sewn edge will be the middle of the back and will be on the fold that ends up being the middle of your blanket, so make sure you DON'T cut on that seam! Otherwise you'll end up with a shark tail!  Fold the tail piece in half and match the folded middle of the tail to the folded middle of the blanket.  Use the template piece to get the height of your cut, but angle your cut in so that you end up 1/2" outside of the tail piece (seam allowance for when you sew the angles).  Set aside the fin again.

Sew the angled cut sides shut (right sides together). Now you should have an rectangular top, with the bottom part curving in like a mermaid tail, and the fin isn't attached.
The angles in toward the tail are sewn.

Finish the tail per the instructions!

If you'd like to see more pictures, just ask, I'm looking for an excuse to make myself a blanket!  I hope you have as much fun with the blankets as I did! There may even be a tail or 2 up in the Etsy shop soon!  ;)

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