Update – Since I published this post, I received many questions, so I’ve updated the post. If you came back to this post, have a read again below. If you are new… welcome! 🙂
You asked for it…
And here it is – DIY Mermaid Skirt!
Mermaid skirts are also called trumpet skirts, and they tend to be tight around the hips and thighs and they are flared towards the bottom.
These skirts can accentuate your curves and help create the hourglass figure, no matter how tall or short you are. So, naturally mermaid skirts or trumpet skirts are a popular choice for belly dance costume skirts, and flamenco and ballroom dresses 🙂
Since there are many types of mermaid skirts, one of my challenges was to decide which one to show. After brainstorming and experimenting, I decided to do a 5-panel mermaid skirt, because this one is relatively simple, easy to sew, and still achieves the nice mermaid shape.
So this week and next week, you will see how to make a 5-panel mermaid skirt that fits you perfectly. In this video and post, you will see how to make a mermaid skirt pattern.
Do you want to make more than just a mermaid skirt? Check out my free course, Belly Dance Costume Making 101!
To make a mermaid skirt pattern, you need:
A big sheet of paper – you can use tissue paper, butcher paper, or cut open paper bags and tape them together. I’m using leftover wrapping paper. You can determine how much paper you need after you take measurements, which I will show you in a bit.
Measuring tape – having a friend that can help you measure is also nice.
Pen and scissors
How to Make a Mermaid Skirt Pattern
I often like to skip making patterns for my costumes. 😛
But for this skirt, it is important that you make a pattern based on your measurements. Because this skirt is fitted around the hips, and we work with stretch fabric, having a pattern will save a lot of headaches later.
This is going to be a 5-panel mermaid skirt, which means that the skirt will be made up of 5 identical pieces of fabric like this.
So we are only making 1 pattern to make all 5 panels for this skirt. Simple, right? 😉
But because this skirt is tight fitted at the top, we have to be a bit more accurate with our measurements than when we made our circle skirts. So we’ll take 7 measurements.
Your belt line – I didn’t call this your waist, because this should be the measurement of where you want your skirt to start, typically where your costume belt would sit, not the thinnest part of your waist.
The fullest part of your hip
Around your thighs – just below the end of your hip
Now turn back and measure:
Distance between your belt line and the fullest part of your hip
Distance between fullest part of your hip and just below your hip
Distance between the end of your hip and 10 cm above your knee
Distance between 10 cm above your knee and the floor
And here is where having a friend to read measurements helps. Instead of measuring a distance then moving your measuring tape to read the next distance, hold the measuring tape at the belt line, then have a friend read the measurement at each point. This tends to reduce errors for me.
When measuring the distances, keep in mind that the skirt will be snug around body, so try to measure along the curves of your body. if you measure straight lines, your skirt will become too short.
By the way, these awesome templates of dress forms are from Designers Nexus. You can get these templates for free! These are great when you are brainstorming your next costume ideas, you can just print these out and draw on them, and you don’t have to worry about drawing your upper body too big for the legs or vice versa. 😀 Designers Nexus has tons of templates and more, and they graciously let me use their templates in my video. Check them out!
Now we will do a bit of calculation. Because the fabric you will be using to make the skirt will have stretch, we have to make the skirt smaller than your measurements, or the skirt won’t be nice and snug around your hip.
So take each of the first 3 measurements of your belt line, hip and thighs and divide them by 1.2. This 1.2 accounts for the stretch, which I will explain more in Part 2.
And because we are making a pattern for 1 panel, and 5 panels add up to those measurements you took, divide the numbers by 5. And we will fold the pattern paper in half, which you will see later, so divide the numbers by 2. Then add 1.5 cm or ⅝ in for seam allowance.
So these are the numbers you will be using to create your panel pattern. So for example, in the pattern making section, the belt line measurement will refer to this number, not the original measurement.
If this is too much to follow, or if you want to double-check your math, you can download the measurement calculation worksheet from the link below, and it’ll do the math for you. You will find it useful to have all numbers organized on the worksheet. 😉
If you want to make a 3-panel mermaid skirt…
Many people asked how to make a 3-panel mermaid skirt using this pattern.
The skirt will basically have 1 panel in front and 2 at the back, so you have a seam at the centre back.
If you want to make a 3-panel mermaid skirt, all you have to do is change the “5” in above formulas to “3”. Everything else is the same, so go ahead and keep following the instruction 🙂
Make a Pattern
So this section has lots of instructions, and it seems complicated, but it’s very simple. You are just taking numbers that you calculated above and marking them with dots. The video above shows each step, so if you get confused, please check out the video.
Take your pattern paper, and fold it in half. On the folded edge, pick a starting point.
Mark the belt line measurement that you calculated from this point.
Then from here, measure 1 cm or ½ in down, which is the seam allowance.
Do the same for the folded edge.
On the folded edge, mark the distance between the belt line and the fullest part of your hip.
Then from here, mark the hip line measurement.
Back to the folded edge, mark the distance between the hip line and the end of your hip.
Then from here, mark the thigh measurement.
Back to the folded edge, mark the distance between the end of your hip and 10cm above your knees.
Then from here, mark the thigh measurement again.
Back to the folded edge, mark the distance between 10cm above your knees and the floor plus 1 cm or ½ in.
Now from this point, measure the thigh measurement x 5.
Then connect this point with the last of the thigh measurement point.
Take the measurement between 10cm above your knees and the floor plus 1 cm or ½ in, and mark this from the thigh measurement point along the line you just drew. And from this point, draw a nice curved line to connect to the bottom of the folded edge. This ensures the skirt length is more or less equal at the bottom.
Now connect the dots.
And from here, you can add some curves to your lines, so the seam lines aren’t too straight and have no sharp corners.
And just cut out the pattern along the lines.
Now you have a pattern for a mermaid skirt panel!
Now you must be wondering…
How much fabric do I need?
What kind of fabric should I use?
Can I make with non-stretch fabric?
These will be answered in Part 2!
In Part 2, you will see types of fabric that is suitable for this skirt, and how to put together this skirt. So keep going, but before you go, sign up for the Sparkly Belly newsletter below to get updates and free resources to help you make costumes.
Thanks for reading the post, and keep sparkling!
P.S. Want to learn to make a full belly dance costume? Check out my free course, Belly Dance Costume Making 101!
P.P.S. Pin this photo to your costume making board 😉
Are you ready to make more costuming bits?