Family life Kids Sewing and Crafts

DIY Your Mermaid Costume!

Before lock down, I bought a 2m sequinned fabric from our local fabric store. Amelia was at a mum’s coffee group one Friday and fell in love with a mermaid costume that she wore ’till we had to leave. I thought to myself that I surely could make one similar!

More than 2 weeks have past and that piece of fabric have been a gateway to a whole load of imagination! We draped it over the seat of the couch to the floor and for a while, we pretended that it was a waterfall that her toy animals/ dolls came to swim/ drink at. Then it became a swimming hole/ shower water as we draped it over our heads with said toys. We made it into a wedding dress, a Sari, a ball dress, a blanket and more. Alas, this afternoon was probably the first afternoon since lock down that both girls had a full 2 hour afternoon nap, and it was bliss. I decided today was the day. With the motivation being a little sick of the piece of material (and pretending to swim underneath the fabric for the upteenth time), and my itching fingers waiting to get back to working on the sewing machine, I took the moment and went for it. I gained consent from Amelia prior her nap, so I was in the clear. Goodbye sequinned fabric, I won’t miss ya!

This project is a quick one and can be made without a sewing machine, albeit slower in process. It’s great for beginners or even something to do with your older kids, ages 4+. You can even whip this up for yourself for halloween or costume parties!

You will need:

  • Fabric material (length depending of the person you’re making it with, but 2m is plenty). Material that has no stretch/ one-way stretch at most. I used a sequinned one mentioned above, but the world is your oyster!
  • Butcher paper/ Kraft paper/ newspaper/ big piece of paper for your pattern
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Elastic (width optional) cut to your waist measurement and 2x on your bust measurement, minus 5-10cm on each (depending on your elastic and your measurements!)
  • Interfacing/ thin batting/ heavyweight material
  • Thread
  • Safety pin
  • Sewing machine/ hand-sewing needle


  • Measure: bust, length from your underarm to where you want the bodice to stop, waist, the length from waist to knee, the length of waist to your ankles

  • Plan: plan out your pattern. Transfer your measurement and plan onto your pattern paper. For this pattern, the waist line would be multiplied by 2 so that it can be gathered and stretched out freely with the elastic. I have also given 10cm at the bottom to attach the fish tail.
  • Create: In this pattern, I made it so that the fabric will be cut on fold. In this case, I would measure the length of the waist from the top (plus 1cm for seam allowance). Measure the length from your waist to your knee (plus the width of your elastic and add 1cm for seam allowance). Then measure the length from your waist to your ankles (plus 1cm seam allowance). After, measure 5cm (plus 1cm seam allowance) in. Connect a diagonal line from the end of the 5cm line and the waist-to-knee- length line. It should look like an upside down trapezium chopped in half. As for the tail, I free-hand this one from a 5cm line from the top and made one side of the tail straight-ish for the fold line, add 1cm seam allowance. Cut pattern to shape.
  • Cut: place and pin the pattern onto the material on fold. Cut material. Cut 1x on fold for the bodice, 2x on fold for the fish tail and 1x on fold for the fish tail on the interfacing fabric (I had some batting lying around the house, but any heavy-ish weight fabric/ interfacing would do the trick!)

  • Hem: hem the two diagonal sides. The fabric I use doesn’t really fray so I just folded it in, 1cm, once, but if your fabric frays then fold it in twice.
  • Join: sew the short sides together. I used French seam* on this one because it’s stronger and I suspect there will be a lot of tension with wearing it on and off all the time.
  • Fold: fold in the top of the bodice to the width of your elastic, plus 1cm. Pin and sew, but leave around 3-5cm gap for the elastic to go through

  • Elastic: attach a safety pin onto the end of the elastic. Thread through elastic into the gap that you just sewed. Gather material as you go (don’t worry about it being uneven because we can fix it after the elastic all goes through!). Be careful of the other end going through the hole, because you’ll be losing the other end in the gap! Once the elastic is all threaded through, pin and sew the elastics together and let it all go into the gap. Sew the gape of the gap to close the gap so the elastic can’t come out.

  • Fish tail: Put right sides together of the fish tail and have the interfacing piece on top of the fabric (fabric against fabric, with right sides together, then interfacing) and sew edges, leaving the top. Flip the fabric so that the right sides are exposed. Sew the top of the tail to the bottom of the bodice. On my one, the bottom of my bodice was a little longer than my tail, so I gathered the bottom of my bodice to make the length the same. I French seam this one too because I predict that either Amelia will step on it, or Phoebe will crawl up to the tail and pull it – either way, there’s going to be lots of tension!

  • Bodice: Cut 2x of fabric with the bust measurement across and the desired length plus the width of your elastic (plus 1cm allowance) x2. This is really important because the elastic is going on the top and bottom and if you don’t have this allowance, it might be shorter than you planned it! Sew sides together. Fold in the top and bottom to the width of your elastic, plus 1cm and pin. Sew the pinned folded bits, leaving 3-5cm opening. The rest is a repeat of step 8, but on the bodice!

Extra: I got a piece of extra material and used it to tie the middle of the bodice for another look. Totally optional!

It was lovely to have the opportunity to surprise Amelia when she woke up from her nap. She was hesitant to come to my call at first because she was “busy reading”, haha! But when she came and had a look, she was totally excited and couldn’t wait to get it on!

Would love to know if you made one for your daughter, cousins, sister, nieces, yourself or anyone else!

*French Seam: sew wrong sides together, 0.5cm. Trim edges so that between the seam and edge is less than 0.5cm. Fold the seam right sides together and sew 0.5cm. You will get the same finish on the right side, but on the wrong side of the fabric there will be no raw edges!

Family life

Supermarkets: A Few Notes.

This Tuesday I made the painstaking trip to the supermarket. I’ve been putting it off for long enough and we’ve run out of space to write any more things on our list.It’s time.I knew as I was preparing to go, that it was going to be longer than my usual trip prior to the pandemic. With limited capacity of people shopping at one time, and the extra precautions we should all take in handling the groceries – I had aside the whole morning for this.

A few tips

With new viruses, comes new research about it. Since Late December/ early January, there’s been lots of research about this novel virus, and new research continues to emerge as we fight the battle to win against this virus. Unlike existing viruses/ bacterial infections no one has immunity to this virus; unlike influenza, this virus suggests that this one is more virulent as it spreads more effectively. We have no treatment or cure, and with the changing of seasons, and how interconnected the world is, this virus spread like wildfire. Although the elderly, those with co-morbidity and the immunocompromised are more likely to be hospitalised and suffer more, the virus doesn’t discriminate and anyone can get it.There’s been evidence that even the asymptomatic ones can carry and transmit the virus – which is probably one of the red flags to why it spread so quickly!Here are the precautions I did to minimise the risk of getting the virus:

Surgical Mask and Hand Sanitiser

I was gifted a pack of surgical mask from a friend and we decided as a family that we would wear the masks if we need to go out to high traffic, essential shops that are open e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, doctors, etc. Although it doesn’t protect us (me most of the time, as I am the designated shopper) from getting the virus, and New Zealand culture, like many European cultures, seem to shy away from wearing masks in public, we thought it would still provide some protection, if any. Also, my biggest rationale is that although I or my family don’t show any symptoms for COVID-19, I can’t be 100% certain that either of us don’t have the virus. I would hate to be the silent carrier and giver of the virus!As I entered the supermarket I couldn’t help but think how it is impossible to stay in your “bubble”. The amount of people that has touched the trolley, fruits, vegetables, packaging would only mean that if someone does have the SARS-COV-2 virus, we’re gonners. I applied “the patient zone vs the healthcare zone” from work into this but obviously changed it to “my bubble vs red zone”: I sanitised my hands before I entered the supermarket and touch anything else; I applied my surgical mask and then enter the supermarket; I get my groceries; I go to the car and open my boot; I sanitised my hands here; before I grab my disinfectant for my groceries and touch the inside of my car. This way, I have ‘clean’ hands when I disinfect my groceries and pack it in the bags.

Paper List

I should have done this instead of using my phone (lesson learned for next time!). However, it might be helpful to write the list according to the order of the layout of the supermarket so that you don’t miss the items and you don’t have to spend more time than you need to at the supermarket. Avoid pens so you can just throw the list away at the end.I usually take a photo of our whiteboard list at home and go about my supermarket with the photo. In retrospect, I can write the list on paper and avoid bringing my phone, which means I didn’t have to disinfect my phone at the end, but I guess if you disinfect your phone after your groceries then it’s the same thing?

Disinfecting Your Groceries

I used Jeffery VanWingen‘s way of grocery shopping with a slight modification, I brought my disinfectant to the car with my paper towels. I’ve left all my shopping reusable bags in the car and loaded my groceries in the car so that I don’t bring my shopping bags into ‘the red zone’ so that I can take in my groceries in its bags inside my house. I do designate a couple of reusable bags for my fresh produce so that I don’t take these inside the house but more on this below.Once I am at my car, I would saturate a square of paper towel with the disinfectant. I also liberally spray all packaging with disinfectant and as I picked it up, I would wipe it down with the saturated paper towel. Theoretically this should kill most common microbes including the SARS-COV-2 virus. As the packaging is “clean”, I can now pack it into the reusable bags in my car as it good enough to be in my “bubble”.After all this, I disinfect my phone, cards, hand sanitiser, keys, and anything else that I may have touched during my trip to the “red zone”.

At Home

I sanitised my hands before going into the boot. Took all of my bags but the ones with fresh produce inside, and left my fresh produce at the door. I left my sugar and potato in the car for 24 hours because it was in paper packaging and research says that the virus can last in cardboard for that long.I washed my hands with soap and water and changed my clothes. I then pack my packaged boxes away and prepare to wash my fresh produce by filling my sink with warm soapy water (warm water will suffice, but our dishwasher liquid is super mild and I used only a tiny bit). One by one I submerged the fresh produce in the water for 20 seconds and gently scrubbed the fresh produced to wash it and then rinse it under cold water before putting it onto the dish rack to air dry. This took a while, but I bought a lot hoping to last for at least a week and a half to prevent going into the supermarket again until then!I stored my fresh greens and vegetables in my Tupperware and Systemas with a wet paper towel on top and bottom to humidify the cut vegies so that it lasts longer! It has nearly been a week and so far so good!I hope this helps or give insight to our new way of grocery shopping. As I write this, it sounds super ridiculous, overwhelming and pedantic – but as many rightly says it, we are at war with this virus and so every little bit helps to stop the spread. Would you consider shopping this way?