Monday, August 11, 2014

Sewvivor Challenge #1: Nautical--The Mermaid Dress

So do you remember how I was entering the "Sewvivor" competition? Well, I am thrilled to say that I was accepted as one of the 16 contestants! What an honor! I've been following all of the sneak peeks on Instagram, and let's just say I have been anxiously waiting for this day to come to actually see what everyone has made. They all look amazing.

Did I mention I'm finally on Instagram now? You can follow me @thequiltingmill if you'd like to. I'm not the best blogger, but I've already decided that sharing quick things on Instagram is the way to go.

For those of you following Sewvivor you know that the first challenge had to be anything quilted that is nautically inspired. Traditional "nautical" really isn't my thing. At all. Like, so much that I almost didn't try out for the competition. Luckily I quickly got an idea for something outside the box for this challenge. Way outside. My 5-year-old daughter has been pretending to be a mermaid all summer and wanted a mermaid tail to dress up in. She even made instructions for me how to make one.
First step: cut out the front and back of the tail. Second: cut triangles for the fins. Third: I think that's a picture of thread, but I'm not totally sure. Fourth, sew the fins onto the tail. Sounds simple enough, right?

 She jumped up and down with excitement when I told her I would finally make one for her. I decided to make a whole costume rather than just a tail, because what would she wear with it? Nothing I could think of would be cute. So I give you, the Mermaid Dress!

I have to say that an extra-special thanks goes out to my sweet friend Danielle for most of the photography! Taking great pictures is not my strong point and I really appreciate her help. Now, more about this mermaid!

After picking out fabric with my munchkin (of course all pink), I got started quilting some satin for the main part of the tail. I marked horizontal lines using my channel lock and a blue marker, and some reference points across the top line, and then quilted in the scales for the tail. I used Winline 80/20 batting and Kona White on the back.

I thought this view from under the longarm was just cool.

Although her instructions were pretty great, I used the somewhat hideous McCall's 5498 as a jumping off point. I made a few alterations including different sleeves, changing the tail length and shape, and overhauling the fins. I cut the tail portions out of the quilted fabric that I created. I am really pleased with how everything turned out, and my munchkin sure loves it! She chose a tulle with a concentric circle pattern made with glitter for the "shiny parts," and glitter is now all over my house. Everywhere. I've found it in some, um, *interesting* places, and I'm sure we'll continue to until long after she outgrows this costume.

In addition to the tail I also quilted veins into the fins, stabilizing the tulle with several layers of organza to maintain at least a little translucency. I loaded the layers on my longarm all at once, traced the outlines of my fin pattern, then quilted in the veins. I cut them out after they were quilted.

I LOVE how the tail and fins turned out. The fins on the original pattern were in serious need of help, and I'm much happier with this version.

The morning of our photo shoot I told my munchkin that I was going to try to do something special with her hair. My creative girl asked if she could draw some pictures of mermaid hairstyles so I would know how to do it right. I just love this picture that she drew. It was too cute not to share. She tells me that the largest one close to the middle has a big beard. Unfortunately I was reminded that I'm terrible at doing hair and was unable to create what I had envisioned, or any of her drawings for that matter. She still looked cute and had a lot of fun being a mermaid.

I had so much fun working on this challenge! It was great to have an excuse to take the time to make something special for my daughter that I may not have otherwise. I have one very happy girl! And yes, she can walk in it.

And now some photo overload. In some of these she's making odd faces, or her Tinkerbell and friends temporary tattoo is especially visible, but there are some more views of details that don't show as well in the other photos.

And, just because, here's a picture of little brother throwing a rock in the water, and I actually took it at just the right moment to get the rock in the frame. I'm probably more proud of this than I should be.

If you haven't yet, please go check out the main post for challenge #1  and vote for your FIVE favorite entries. If one of them happens to be a quilted mermaid dress, that would be fine with me! Thanks so much for reading! I hope to see you in round two, because I've got some great ideas!


  1. Great mermaid! My daughter is obsessed with them!

  2. This is fabulous - I love that your 5 year-old daughter (who has fabulous taste in glitter and colour) gave you the pattern. Well done! It's brilliant!

  3. Holy cow, can she walk in it normally too?

  4. This is really cute and original!! What an awesome idea and plays on the theme of the challenge real well. You're awesome!

  5. You are crazy talented!! Good job! (My daughter would be over the moon for this... must keep her from seeing it LOL!)

  6. A mermaid dress! How cool! Any girl would love this... great job!

    1. Thanks so much Chelise! We are both so happy with how it turned out!
      For some reason your comment didn't come to my email. Not sure why.

  7. First off, your daughters drawings are so great, makes it even more special! It really i so pretty and such a creative entry. Your quilting looks amazing!

  8. Wow, this is so amazing, what a fantastic idea!
    And your scale quilting is perfect!

  9. WHOA!!! A dress!?!?!? fantastical!! Love love the details, especially your little ones' "tattoo"!!

  10. You're daughter is so lucky! Can I get one in adults size?? Good luck! x

  11. Okay, this girl is going to be a sewist when she grows up! I love that you thought outside the box! I had similar issues with nautical thing :). Good luck!

  12. that is really cool that you made the special quilted textile on your long-arm. what a good idea! I wasnt that into tradtional nautical either, but it probably ended up helping us think outside the box a little more. im sure your daughter loves it! (and i love her instructions!!)

  13. oh and dont forget to make yourself the matching adult size ;)

  14. Cute dress! My little girl would KILL for one of those! Awesome job!


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