My 5-year old made a mermaid costume for her Barbie doll – free sewing pattern

So my younger daughter – she just turned 5 this summer – really wanted a mermaid Barbie doll. Why buy it when we can make it ? I found this beautiful shiny silver fabric in an op shop lately, perfect for a mermaid !!
She also wanted to work on a crafting project, and do some sewing… and today was the day !

I am posting those pics and explaining what we did, step-by-step,in the hope that it may inspire some of you to sew one with your little ones as well. They can handle a sewing machine pretty well if they are focused on what they’re doing and knowing that you will handle the pedal.

You can either use the pattern we drew, or make your child draft her own. Ours is a bit wonky and uneven at places, but it’s her own ! I really wanted her to be proud that she made it all by herself, and pattern-making IS an important step of sewing your own clothes.. 😀

– First I made her draw the outline of her doll’s legs on a sheet of paper. Then she drew the “tail” section around the feet (I helped her redraw it afterwards) and we added about 1 cm for seam allowance around it all.

– Then I used a colored pencil to mark the cutting line, and she cut her pattern “along the blue line”.
– We set the fabric on the table, with wrong side up. Positionned the pattern and I pinned it in place. Then she drew “close around it” with a pen. She removed the pins, very carefully (!) and then cut around the lines with her scisors. (that was the hard part and I had to help her slightly). We repeated this for back of tail. (you’ll need 2 pieces, for back and front)

– Then I told her to place both pieces on top of each other, with the pretty shiny sides together and so that the edges matched as much as possible. Stay beside your child, help her when needed and she should be able to manage that fine. I held both layers of fabric together, and, very carefully she placed the pins through both layers of fabric.
– Finally, the exciting step: sewing machine !! I drew a line about 1 cm inside the edges with a colored marker, to mark the stitching line. Set up the sewing machine on a medium size straight stitch. She sat on my knees, and … ta dam !

– As I said earlier, I manage the pedal. Make sure you push the pedal as slowly as possible, nearly stitch by stitch to begin with. Show your child how to lift the presser foot and place the colored stitching line in place, just below the needle. Then tell her to try and keep the colored line going toward her. That is the key instruction.

– Stop stitching whenever the stitching starts to diverge from the colored line. Let her lift the presser foot – make sure the needle is down IN the fabric – and show her to turn the fabric to follow the curve of the colored stitching line…
– and keep stitching, slowly and with plenty of love and encouragement until you reach the other side. You may show her how to sew a locking stitch at the end (stitch backwards and forward again) if she’s still up to it at this stage.

– Bravo !! You’ve done a great job together !! Trim the excess fabric around stitching line. And let her turn the mermaid tail inside out, for instance with a chopstick. Help is often welcome at this stage for the tail’s end.

– Try the mermaid’s tail on Barbie. Cut a matching strip of fabric if desired to make a belt that will secure the tail in place. ANother strip of fabric will make an easy bra (at this stage, she’s probably tired of sewing)…

And there you go, full Mermaid’s outfit !!!!

Download the free template to sew your own Mermaid’s costume for a Barbie doll.

2 thoughts on “My 5-year old made a mermaid costume for her Barbie doll – free sewing pattern

  1. Michaela Reply

    that looks so good. How do you do that becuase i want to make one for my doll but i need some info on how. If your daughter wants to be a mermaid than go to Mermagica they have cool tails to swim in i have a purple one.

  2. emmie Reply

    great to see her sewing ! I use to make my girls mermaid out fits from scraps about 23 years ago …love it.try making fairy wings from the corners of the plastic milk jugs!

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