Making a mermaid costume

How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume

Jane Bertin
By Jane Bertin. Updated: February 13, 2017
How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume

Who doesn't love mermaids? While in older times people believed merfolk to be dangerous - there were legends of mermaids pulling sailors into the sea - nowadays we think of these characters as whimsical and fascinating creatures.

Andersen's tale "The Little Mermaid" and especially the Disney adaptation have made mermaids and mermen very popular; if you want to make your own costume for Halloween or a fancy dress party, this might be the perfect choice. Stay with us at OneHowTo and learn how to make an easy DIY mermaid costume - without any sewing!

You'll need:

  • Varied shells
  • A corset, bustier or bikini top
  • Shimmery fabric: Organza or lamé
  • Fabric in different colors: Organza or tulle
  • Hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Sequins
  • Optional: Needle and thread
  • Optional: Hair pins or headband
You may also be interested in: DIY Hawaiian Costume Ideas for Girls

Steps to follow:


How to make a mermaid bustier:

Of course, Ariel from The Little Mermaid wears a seashell bra - but that's not so practical in real life. Instead, we recommend making your own mermaid bustier with a bra, a bikini top, a corset or bustier or a sleeveless top; it doesn't matter what you use as long as it has cups to support the shells and you feel comfortable in it.

The base for the seashell top should be either flesh-colored or in any ocean shade (blue, turquoise or even purple). Now you can get to work on your mermaid bustier!

  • Lay the bra, bustier, or the base that you've chosen in front of you.
  • Fill the cups with bowls or paper balls so that they don't lose their shape or cave in.
  • Use a hot glue gun to apply the seashells in any pattern that you like. Most people like to mimic Ariel's bra with two large scallop shells, but you can use smaller, flat shells in rows. You can glue them only over the cups or over all the base.
  • If you want, paint the shells in gold or sprinkle some metallic or turquoise glitter.

Of course, if you're going as a merman or as a realistic mermaid, you can go topless - it depends on the climate and the regulations of wherever you're going!

How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume - Step 1

How to make a mermaid tail:

The tail is maybe the most important part of the costume; it's what can make your mermaid costume look glamorous and dressy, even if it's actually an easy DIY craft.

Start by making the fins of the mermaid tail. Gather some yards of organza or tulle in any color you like: The most obvious choices for a mermaid are turquoise or blue, but you can also pick different shades and even go full rainbow.

  • Cut them into handkerchief shapes.
  • Twist each fin, wringing it.
  • Press it like that with a steam iron so that the flat swirling shape holds.

Then you can make the mermaid tail itself. You can use a store-bought shimmery tube skirt if the fabric has enough stretch, or you can make your own skirt with some yards of organza or lamé; simply glue them into a tube shape, or sew them at the back if you have time.

  • Glue or pin the tulle or organza fins at different heights, letting them hang like draped handkerchiefs.
  • If the glue looks too obvious you can cover it up with sequined trims or more shells.
  • Draw scales - overlapping Us - on the visible tail with a metallic paint in silver or gold.
How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume - Step 2

How to get mermaid hair:

If you google "mermaid hair" you'll find endless pictures of wavy, multicolor long manes. However, you can get mermaid hair no matter your actual hair length or texture as long as it looks hydrated and has a splash of color. There are many options:

  • Wear a long red wig to look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
  • Dye your hair, or just the tips, with multicolor hair chalk or crepe paper. The effect is temporary, so you can try aquamarine or sea green without any worries.
  • Wear your natural hair: Simply take good care of it the weeks before and use mouse to get a wet effect, as if you just came out of the water.
  • Apply some hair glitter.

Ideas for mermaid makeup:

If you want to wear makeup you have many options, from the natural-looking to the elaborate. Mermaids always appear to have smooth, glistening skin - there's no daily smoke and dust underwater - but otherwise it's all up to you.

  • Silver or pastel makeup: Wear metallic or navy blue eyeliner with pastel eyeshadow in any sea shade. However, keep it light; otherwise you will look like an abyssal fish-style mermaid, which is also a valid choice.
  • Scale makeup: Get old fishnet stockings or mesh and use them as a template to paint scales on your face or body. Simply fill the spaces in the net with green, blue or silver eyeshadow or body makeup - you can even do it as nail art! However, we don't recommend doing it all over your skin.
How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume - Step 3

Accessories to complete your DIY mermaid costume:

  • You can find seashell hair accessories like clips or headbands with starfish or spirals in many shops, but you can also make them yourself with the same technique we described in the how to make a bustier section above.
  • Make a mermaid tiara by gluing starfish, coral - you can make it yourself with cardboard and paint - small shells, anemones and even strings of pearls onto a headband. Sprinkle them with glitter.
  • Make a trident; it's very easy to get one from a devil costume and re-paint it.
  • Mermaids and mermen often appear in art playing the harp, combing their hair or looking at themselves in a mirror. Why not carry one of these objects?
How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume - Step 4

This is how to make an easy DIY mermaid costume! If you have any doubts, tips or ideas for no-sew costumes, please tell us in the comments section.

You can also learn how to make other easy costumes for Carnival or Halloween to create a Disney movie theme such as a seven dwarfs costume, Tinkerbell costume or more recent characters such as Moana or the main parts in Inside Out.

How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume - Step 5

If you want to read similar articles to How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume, we recommend you visit our Festivities & Celebrations category.

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How to Make an Easy DIY Mermaid Costume