Ungrateful Mermaids

Sometime around Christmas, Tris became obsessed with being an “Elsa Mermaid.” And, of course, convinced that I could help her with this transformation.

I was… less enthused. Partly because I was worried she expected me to make her a literal mermaid (and probably then provide a suitable ocean to explore). Mostly because I was pretty sure the confinement of the legs inherent to a “real” mermaid tail just wasn’t going to feel great after a max of five minutes.

So I dragged my feet.

River got in on the excitement, requesting a Rainbow Mermaid tail with only slightly less urgency.

After a fair bit of cogitating, I hit upon the (I thought) brilliant idea of a tail made as a wrap-around skirt, allowing the mermaid look while still running and playing. I even drew up a sketch to try to sell the idea to my three-year-old clients.

They were cautiously receptive, at least once I assured them I could make a pocket in the fin so they could also put their feet inside. So I took some measurements, drafted a couple of rough pattern pieces, and dug through the stash for suitable fabrics. Rainbow was easy, as my aunt gave me a couple of pieces of cheap rainbow-printed satin to make stuff for the twins. Ah, the gift of getting to sew one’s least favourite fabric for someone else. I also had some low-stretch slippery knit with an indistinct white and blue and silver pattern that has always reminded me of the Frozen aesthetic. For the tail fin itself, I opted to use the last of a spongy purple polyester sweater fleece that I had made into baby sweatpants at one point. Actually both fabrics featured in other projects on this post here. But I overlaid the fleece with translucent fabrics to get that iridescent fishy feeling.

For the rainbow tail fin, I picked a purple-y tulle with a bit of a silvery fish scale pattern to it, and intermittent clusters of beads. It had been kicking around stash for several years since one of Syo’s friends deconstructed a ball gown in our basement to make a Hallowe’en costume, and left giant swathes of shorn tulle behind. For Tris I chose a blue organza with random silvery dots, also from my aunt. I then quilted these overlays to each side of the tail separately, creating fish-tail rays. This was far and away the most time-consuming and annoying part of the whole thing.

I completed River’s tail first, as I figured she was going to be less devastated if she didn’t like the result than Tris was, and I could perhaps use its example to manage Tris’s expectations.

River was quite excited, and eager to put it on. However, she was completely unwilling to wear it as a skirt, only as a full tail with her feet tucked into the tail fin pocket.

And the frustration of being unable to walk properly like this got to her fairly quickly, so she hasn’t really worn it after the first day it was delivered. (Oh and I still should topstitch around the tail-fin so it holds its shape better, but my motivation is… low.)

Tris was distinctly lukewarm to River’s tail, and I contemplated just making it as a basic step in tail, but the pieces were already cut out and taking up room in the sewing room. So, eventually, I decided to finish sewing it up, if only to move them from the sewing room to the dress-up box.

When I showed it to her, all completed. Tris said, “no thank you, I’m a princess, not a mermaid.”

Anyway, while I take some deep breaths, I’m going to make something for me now.



Filed under Sewing

19 responses to “Ungrateful Mermaids

  1. Jeff Laskowski

    Nevertheless, a learning project that involved and interested your children. Kudos to you for doing something for them that wasn’t big on your list. You will remember this long after they are grown.

  2. Jeff Laskowski

    Could the “fins” started at the knee (maybe)?

  3. Bahahahah yep confirming why I never sew for my own kids! Hopefully they entertain each other long enough for you to make some solid stuff for yourself.

  4. SewRuthieStyle

    Wow that sounds very annoying! I don’t have any kids though so lack understanding on that stuff. Hope you get to make something for yourself very soon.

  5. Sarah A

    They will appreciate it eventually, even if it’s 30 years into the future while they are looking at old photos of how amazing their mom was. You just can’t trust/argue with the toddler thought process. But I’m impressed with your solution!

  6. oh that’s what I always call “funny if it happens to someone else”…hahahahaha… reminds me of when I made a full on Adventure Time zip up hoodie for my son for his camp. Spent hours on it, looked amazing and he wore it once at camp and then said, I’m not wearing that out! Enjoy you own next project!

  7. ceci

    I’d lost track of how old the twins are and was puzzled – did one of your older girls want to be a mermaid? Both of them? Seemed interesting, altho there used to be a mermaid parade in NYC that adults participated in so, maybe? ANYWAY, laughing about the final outcome – I bet their tails are rediscovered in the dress up clothes at some point.

    Anyway, always interesting so thank you! Cecil

    • Haha! No, although I’m sure the older girls would appreciate mermaid tails, the twins are three and a half and have decided that mom is magic and can make anything. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️

  8. Of course! Classic toddler behaviour! So annoying though. I hope you do get to tell this story for years! The wrap around skirt idea is brilliant.

  9. You are a saint. (WAVES HANDS AROUND IN AGREEMENT) This is familiar ground (it was a bat costume), and probably for you as well from the older girls: I want I want I want, I don’t want what you made me. Right now the issue is with my niece, who has such very unreasonable expectations for a 28 yr old, which is what I am muttering replacing a zipper in a Forever 21 skirt that won’t last a hot minute.

  10. 🤣 I’m sorry, I know this feeling all too well, but it’s still funny, and I love the title you used for the post. On the upside, they think their mom is a magician who can sew anything, and that’s worth something. 💚

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