DIY mermaid costume

Make this easy DIY mermaid costume for Halloween! She looks like a mermaid but the special “tail” skirt makes walking and running easier!

I decided to really get into DIY Halloween costumes for my kids this year, since they are old enough to ask for and enjoy costumes. I actually made them as simple as possible, but they look quite complex. I loved watching their faces as they saw their Halloween costumes come to life.

I love the magic and intrigue of mermaids! There were times in my daughters' childhood when they wanted to be a mermaid when they grew up, and I love their imagination. Learn how to make a DIY mermaid costume!

Do you like sewing mermaid projects? Discover them:

DIY mermaid costume

DIY mermaid costume

My daughter went through 50 ideas of what she wanted to be for Halloween (like a DIY rainbow unicorn) before making her choose just one. But once she saw the fish scale fabric and matching sequin fabric, she was able to make a decision. She looks like me, letting the fabric guide my decision.

DIY mermaid costume

She wanted to be like Ariel, but I knew it would be cold so she needed more blanket. I made a sequined t-shirt with a little tulle edge on the hem.

Next, I made a fish scale skirt with a puffy tulle mermaid tail. The top of the skirt is a fitted pencil skirt and the tail peeks out at the bottom.

The front of the skirt is long to mimic the tale, but the back of the skirt is cut above the knees so she can still run.

DIY mermaid costume

She will need to wear layers underneath to stay warm and maybe even a jacket on top. I love that the skirt hides her shoes and she can wear any warm shoes underneath.

I hot glued seashells to clips for her hair, and I glued seashells around a battery operated tea light with ribbon attached to make it look like her voice is glowing inside.

DIY mermaid costume
DIY mermaid costume

Do you like mermaid projects? Discover them:

Since then, I have made many different mermaid skirts and costumes as my girls have grown. I usually stick to a long sleeved shiny top because we have cold Octobers, then for the skirt I do scale printed fabric for the fitted part and a ruched tier at the bottom for the fins.

I made this bright blue top, green scale skirt, with ruched blue fins and green ruffles. My only wish for this one was to make the hi-lo a little more extreme.

make a mermaid skirt costume

I reused the sparkly top and made an even simpler skirt. I made the scales silver and the fins rainbow shiny. This one wasn't used for a costume as much as it was for dress up and play.

make a mermaid skirt costume

DIY Mermaid Costume Tutorial

1. Do or buy a sequin t-shirt*. Sew a piece of tulle to the hem.

2. Sew a few stretch scale fabric* in a tube that matches the circumference of your child's hips. Add elastic that measures two inches from the waist up so it stays on the waist. (Here are some ideas for finding rubber bands to reuse.)

insert an elastic band on the skirt

3. Cut the hem in a slight “V” shape, with the point going down to the center front and the point going up to the center back.

4. Gather a bunch of tulle and sew it to the bottom of the skirt. Cut the hem so that it hits the floor in the same place all the way around the skirt. The back may be longer than the front.

fabric scale pintail

5. Glue some seashells to a clip or headband to create a mermaid hairpiece. Do a simple mermaid makeup.

make a mermaid tail skirt


  • Scale Printed Stretch Fabric (How to Sew with Knit Fabric)

  • 3 meters or more of tulle

  • 1 inch elastic


  • Sewing tools

  • Sewing machine


  1. Measure your or your daughter's hips. This will be the width of the skirt. Divide it in half to cut it at the fold.
  2. Measure from waist to knee for the top point of the skirt. Measure from the waist to mid-calf for the bottom point of the skirt.
  3. Whatever stitch you want to place in front, it should be cut at the fold. The stitch you want on the back should be cut on the seam.
  4. Cut six to eight pieces of tulle measuring from knee to floor. I used the width of the tulle for maximum volume.
  5. Pin the skirt seam right sides together and sew with a zigzag stitch or serger. Finish the raw edges if desired.
  6. Arrange all the tulle pieces on top of each other, matching the two short edges. Take one side and match it to the other side and pin it.
  7. Sew with a straight stitch and a 5/8 inch seam allowance. This will form a giant tube.
  8. Cut the elastic to fit you or your daughter's size perfectly. Overlap the edges by 1/4 inch and sew to form a tube.
  9. Pin the elastic to the top edge of the skirt, distributing it evenly. Zigzag the elastic up to the skirt.
  10. Fold the elastic so that it is encased in the fabric and zigzag into place.
  11. Sew two or three rows of basting stitches along one long edge of the tulle.
  12. Pull the bobbin threads to bring the tulle together. Gather it together until you have a smaller circle the size of the skirt.
  13. Divide the bottom of the skirt into four equal sections. Divide the tulle into four equal sections. Match the four sections of the two skirt pieces. Distribute the gathers evenly.
  14. Sew the two skirt pieces together using a zigzag stitch. Be careful when going around the points. Finish the raw edges if desired.
  15. Turn the mermaid tail skirt right side out to get the perfect skirt!
  16. You may need to cut the tulle shorter so that the tail sits evenly on the ground. Be sure to do this while you or your daughter is wearing it.
  17. You have finished!

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If you make a mermaid costume using this tutorial, I would love to see it! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and identify me!

DIY mermaid costume

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