How to Make Mermaid Tails

Updated February 21, 2017

Mystical mermaids are goddesses and icons of the sea that are depicted as half woman and half fish. A mermaid's tail allows her to swim fast and glide through the ocean. While mermaid costumes and tails can be bought in stores, a mermaid tail that you can actually swim with can be sewn at home for a perfect fit in the colour and fabric of your choice. With some simple sewing techniques and a monofin (a swimming aid resembling a flipper that attaches to the swimmer's feet; these are available at many sporting-goods stores), you can make a mermaid tail that will give you the experience of becoming a legendary sea creature for a day.

Measure the body of the person who will wear the mermaid tail to create a pattern. Pull the measuring tape slightly taut so that it does not sag. The person being measured should stand relaxed with heels together. Place the top of the tape measure at the waist. Measure the distance from waist to knees and then the distance from waist to ankles. Write down both measurements. Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of the hips, slightly over the buttocks, and measure. Secure the tape around the thickest part of the thighs, and then around the knees, calves and ankles. Record each measurement.

Place the measurements on the butcher paper using a pencil and dots. Connect the dots and draw the pattern for the mermaid tail. Measure the monofin and include its measurements at the bottom of the tail. Cut out the shape.

Fold the fabric in half so that the patterned sides are facing each other. Place the cut-out tail onto the fabric. Trace the pattern with chalk, leaving about 4 inches all the way around. Place pins alongside the chalk marks every few inches. Cut along the lines.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to thread your sewing machine. Using a 1/4-inch seam, sew all the way around the pattern, making sure not to sew the waist shut. Go straight up past the edge of the fabric when finishing, which helps the stitches stay intact. Release the foot control and cut the thread.

Cut 3 inches down on both sides of the tail's waist. Fold the material over 2 inches and secure with pins. Sew all the way around to create a waistband, making sure not to sew the waist shut.

Remove the pins along the tail. Cut off extra material and loose threads. Place your hand inside the material and pull from the bottom to turn the fabric right side out. Roll up the monofin and place it inside the fabric at the bottom of the tail. Arrange for a secure fit.


If you are measuring yourself for a mermaid's tail, take the measurements while looking in a full-length mirror. Wear thin clothes or no clothes when measuring.


Use caution when swimming with the tail. Children and inexperienced swimmers should not swim with a monofin. If the sewing machine is not threading interlocking stitches, it is threaded incorrectly. Consult your machine's owner's manual. Bunched-up stitches at the sewing machine's throat plate means the top tension is too tight. Ironing can ruin the fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Loose measuring tape
  • Scrap paper
  • Pencil
  • Long butcher paper
  • 3 yards thick, nylon-Lycra fabric (swimwear and dancewear material)
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Coloured thread
  • Monofin
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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.