Monday, June 07, 2010

Make it: Mermaid Doll

Don’t throw away those scraps! Spare felt, yarn, and ribbons are the key ingredients for this incredibly easy mermaid doll.

Cotton twill fabric – body color
Sewing machine or hand-sewing needle
Matching thread
Pillow stuffing
1 –2” wide ribbon/tail base, 6” long
Assorted ribbons, 20-30 pieces (10-18” long)
Fusible hem tape (such as Stitch Witchery)
Felt: 1 body color, 1 orange, 1 bluegreen
1 skein eyelash yarn (for hair)
Iridescent dimensional paints (sea greens, blues, silvers)
Fantastic Face doll iron-on transfer
15 – 20 shell buttons
4 dozen small pearls
White embroidery floss
6 mini seashells
Hot glue gun
Bone folder
Pressing cloth
Tailor’s chalk / pencil

Click to save and re-size larger or smaller.

1. To create the mermaid body: trace the doll body template onto cotton twill fabric and cut two. Pin pieces together, right sides facing, and stitch with a ¼” seam leaving the bottom straight edge open. Use scissors to cut notches around the curves and turn right side out using a bone folder from the inside to smooth out the shape.

2. Lightly iron the head portion of the mermaid, warming it. Place Fantastic Face Iron-on Transfer doll face in the center of the head, face down, and cover with a pressing cloth. Firmly iron for approximately 25 seconds on medium-high heat. Do not move the iron too much or the face will shift. Remove the pressing cloth, allowing the transfer to cool for 10 seconds, and then slowly remove the transfer backing. Set the face by ironing lightly again with the pressing cloth.

3. Fill the mermaid body with pillow stuffing using a bone folder to push the stuffing all the way into the head area. Leave 1” of slack fabric at the open end to insert the tail.

4. Create the tail by laying the 2” wide ribbon tail base horizontally on your work surface. Place a piece of fusible hem tape, cut to size, on top of the ribbon. Begin layering the 10-18” long ribbons vertically along the tail base. Alternate a layer of tail ribbons and a layer of fusible bonding web, but do not make more than 4 layers or it will be too difficult to stitch through. Finish with a last piece of fusible web and fold the edges of the tail base ribbon back over the layered pieces to create a closed wrap. Be sure that the width of the tail will fit into the bottom of the doll. Firmly iron on both sides, using a pressing cloth, until the webbing melts and secures all of the tail ribbons.

5. Insert and pin the tail base into the open end of the mermaid body, folding under raw edges of body fabric to make a finished edge. Stitch closed using a zipper foot.

6. Use dimensional paints to create the tail scales. Start halfway down the body and paint 1” arches, facing down, across the front waist and fill in with paint. Alternate colors (4 or more works best) to differentiate each scale from another. Repeat this process down the front of the doll body and onto the tail base ribbon to blend them together. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours, and then repeat for the backside.

7. Create a belt, by sewing shell buttons onto a piece of ribbon, using hot glue to attach it to the mermaid body, covering where the scales start.

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8. Cut out felt arms, shell bikini top and starfish using the given templates or create your own. Attach using hot glue or Fabric-Tac glue.

9. Give your mermaid a necklace by threading the small pearls onto 12” of embroidery floss and tying around her neck, trimming excess floss.

10. Create knots of eyelash yarn to become hair by tying strands of yarn together in the center. Make several bunches of three different lengths. Hot glue on the hair knots starting with the long knots along the back of head (ear to ear), then medium ones framing the face, and finishing with the small one on the crown of her head. Finish off your mermaid by giving her a tiara by hot gluing 5-6 small shells along her hairline.


  1. She's so pretty! I can't believe that the tail is painted - it looks gorgeous!

  2. I have kind of a different outlooks on this article. I agree with the author but some points I have different views on.


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