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Topic: Mermaid tail  (Read 2032 times)
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Stitchwhich
« on: March 06, 2009 11:49:29 PM »

A friend of mine has issued me a challenge: create for her a useable and attractive mermaid tail for swimming.

Most of the costuming and garment work I've done has been renaissance.  Because of how much boning work I've done I thought almost immediately that maybe I could do some "boning" with rubber strips or something along those lines to make the tail powerful enough.  Any suggestions?
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Ludi
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2009 06:41:03 AM »

Be careful whatever you make is safe and won't drown her!  For stiffening the fin, try using a thin plastic like ABS, which you can get at a plastic supply house in most cities.


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SpottedFrog
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2009 11:38:08 AM »

Once upon a time there was an underwater show at a place called Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, TX. When I was in college the university adjacent was given a grant to buy the place because the springs were home to several endangered species and it was a good way for the state to protect the area while still allowing use of it. The old buildings are now labs for the Marine Biology department. Smiley The last show was in 1994? maybe? I was still in school & knew some of the girls whose job title was "mermaid".

ANYWAY... Every girl who did this was a great swimmer to begin with, but they all had to spend about 4-5 hours learning how to swim in the fin. They wore a bikini of their own choice (any job where you get a bikini allowance has got to be fun right?), with the fin covering the bikini bottoms. The fins they wore were made of neoprene (wet suit material) & decorated with large sequins (the big ones with the holes off set to one side so they wiggled & sparkled like scales). It was one continuous piece from waist to feet. The actual tail bits were large, extended from just below the knee to as wide as the hips and a few inches past the tips of the toes. The fins were also neoprene with plastic boning in them, it was a reasonable amount of propulsion, like swim fins you'd wear for scuba diving. Getting in & out of them involved the same efforts as a wetsuit. Walking was impossible, they put on their fins around a corner about 5 feet from the water & scooted to the water on their butts.

I was never brave enough to try out for the mermaid job, partly because I'm not that strong a swimmer but mostly because the springs are 68 degrees all year round, that's way too cold for me!
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Ludi
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2009 01:53:29 PM »

It makes sense to use neoprene because it won't break down in water.  But it is expensive!

Here's some suppliers:

http://www.seattlefabrics.com/neoprene.html

http://www.foamorder.com/neoprene.html

http://www.rockywoods.com/Fabrics-Hardware-Patterns-Kits/Neoprene_Fabrics

I have ordered other fabrics from Seattle Fabrics and I'm happy with their service.  They have other fabrics like spandex and stretch vinyl that might work and be less expensive and easier to sew than neoprene.  You can order samples of their fabrics.
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Aislynn
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2009 06:36:51 PM »

There is a really super tutorial (video) out there somewhere that shows how to make a mermaid tail using a monofin, and super-stretchy swimsuit material.  She basically put the monofin on, and traced it, along with her legs, and drafted the upper part (waist, hips, thighs) using her measurements, every two inches down, starting at the waist.  She cut out two, seamed them together, inserted the monofin, added a seaweed-y fringe to the bottom, and that was it, mostly!  It looked crazy good.  I don't remember how she did it exactly, but the fringe at the bottom was a part of the two body pieces.  If you leave the bottom open, you can put the monofin in from there, then top stitch it closed, and have the extra at the bottom for the fringe.

For reference:  Monofin: http://www.swim-shop.com/images/ProductImages/fn_mf_wave.jpg

And...after a brief search, here's that tutorial:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtwnOQg_KH8

(She explains it much better than I did), but you get the basic idea.  Good luck!
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SpottedFrog
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2009 07:05:56 AM »

ohdearGod! not only was she cutting on the floor but sewing on the floor! There was a perfectly good table right there! ::stomp  stomp  stomp::
Yes the fin was lovely & well made but she gets a hand slap from me for demonstrating bad sewing habits. /grouch
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Aislynn
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2009 07:56:19 AM »

*laughs*

Yeah...the sewing on the floor was a little over the top!
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