We never made it to the Coney Island Mermaid parade last weekend, but plenty of DIY sparkly spandex fun was had by all at Z's mermaid-themed birthday party on Sunday. Shockingly, I finished the toddler's mermaid skirt AHEAD of schedule (without using my serger OR a walking foot)...
And somehow found time to whip up a skirt for myself. Not to mention hair accessories for me, Z and Z's cousin T who was visiting for the weekend. T is nine, so she was actually able to help me--she drew and cut out the stars for the headbands, turned them inside out, and stuffed them, all very carefully. We had so much fun collaborating, and it got me excited for that far-off day when Z can actually be trusted in the sewing area.
The results were fabulous:
As for the details:
Serger-Free Spandex Sewing
My original plan was to do the smart thing and serge this super-stretchy stuff with wooly nylon. But if I had had to pull the serger out of the chest and set it up every time I wanted to sew... none of these things would ever have been finished.
So I used the same method my mom used when she made swimsuits for me as a kid--just zig-zag it. I lowered the presser-foot pressure to 2, and sewed everything with a medium-width zig-zag stitch using a size 90 stretch needle. The fabric was so heavy there was no rippling or waving like you get with delicate rayon or cotton knits. EASY. (And seriously--if you don't have a serger, there is no reason to fear knits!)
And I didn't bother overcasting or hemming, but I did reinforce the bottom of the split seam and side opening areas.
My Melissa Mermaid Skirt
This quick knit skirt came together in like, an hour, including the cutting. You might even call it a TNT pattern--except last time I made it I was pregnant and cut a larger size.
- Pattern:BurdaStyle Melissa knit pencil skirt with high-waisted yoke band--no elastic necessary! Seriously, it's just three pieces, and I didn't even bother hemming this one.
- Size: I cut a 38 and it worked just peachy (note that my weight seems to be fluctuating again--I'm currently at a 29" waist and 38.5" hip)
- Fabric: Thick, sweaty, glittery fish-scaly spandex from Spandex House for the skirt--I think it was $10/yard. And shimmery metallic spandex in a contrasting color for the yoke/waistband.
- Alterations: I just made it longer, but only sewed it down to the knee, for ease of walking.
- Wear to: My daughter's birthday party. Other occasions may be more challenging.
Z's Split Mermaid Skirt
Trying to get Z to take this thing off after the party was NOT fun.
I started out with this excellent mermaid tutorial from ikatbag (thanks to commenter June for the tip!), but was worried it would be tough to run around in. So I tapered the skirt pieces to points, turned them sideways, and added ruffles (see above photo for the latter).
The fabric is mostly the same, except I used a sequined net for the side ruffles and a very soft rayon knit from my stash for the waistband to protect Z's sensitive eczema-prone skin from direct metallic spandex contact.
This one does have elastic in the waistband--she doesn't have much difference between her waist and hip measurement, so anything that helps keep her clothes up is necessary.
Mermaid Headbands and Hairclip
These are just a folded strip of the metallic spandex (2" less than the head circumference) sewn into a tube, with a stuffed spandex star handsewn on. DONE.
I also sewed a bunch of random bits of fabrics to a hairclip for myself--here's a detail view:
Finally, here's the three of us under the ocean at Z's party. The fabrics and shell trims that didn't make it into our costumes were strewn about the room for ambiance and suchlike--no idea how else I'll use them.
So: do you ever sew knits without a serger, even if you have one?
Oh, and next up... sewing something, like, wearable. To work and stuff. And a cardigan blocking update!
P.S. I almost forgot--we weren't the ONLY mermaids at the party!