Mermaid skirt in crushed velvet

I’ve been wanting to do one of these since I saw my ATS teacher wearing one for a fusion performance. It was black, thick stretch velvet, totally luscious looking, trailing behind her, and made her look elegant and slinky. It was love at first sight, and I knew I would have to make something like that for myself. In fact, that skirt did give birth to the costume bunny that prompted my explanation on how they act.

There are several patterns in the market, although you could easily make your own. Possible ways of doing this:

  1. Start with the dress pattern you should have made some time ago, measure where you want your waist to sit, chop off above that, then at the bottom, either add semi circles of fabric in between each main piece, or add these as quarter circles to each of the 5 or 6 pieces; this will give you nicer flare but will use a lot more fabric. if you want extra flare, add a quarter or semi-circle connected at the back, on the centre seam just below your buttocks.
  2. Start with the same pattern as above, and where you want the flare to start (around the knees or so) add a two or three semi-circles of fabric, cut as you would do for a circle skirt
  3. Start with the previous example, but start the flare earlier at the front, to have an irregular shape, sort of like an inverted cala lily.
  4. get an existing skirt of yours that you like the fit of, and extract the pattern
  5. use a straight skirt pattern but add flaring on the sides and centre back seam

In every case, you’ll also need a straight piece, about 16cm high and as long as your “waist” circumference (that is, whatever the place where your skirt will sit) plus 1-2 cm for seams allowances.

Whichever pattern will work better for you depends a LOT on your body shape. I’ve gone with option 4, extracting a pattern from a skirt I liked, except that this wasn’t *my* skirt so I needed to adjust to size. I did find a totally luscious wine colour stretch crushed velvet that would be perfect for matching both a Hanan top and belt I’ve got, and some black cherry brocade I’ve got stashed for a fusion belt and bra. The only problem was that there were only 1.8 metres available of the fabric. If you are making your first one, you might want to start with a cheaper fabric, although I strongly suggest you use a type of stretch knit.

Mermaid Skirt Layout

Mermaid Skirt Layout

In the end, I had to adjust the flaring of each of the pieces to be able to fit all 8 pieces onto the length of fabric I had. I also had to be very careful when cutting, as velvet can be notoriously tricky, so I had to make sure the pile run in the correct direction for every piece. This issue with the pile means that velvet can be rather wasteful, as you can’t rearrange fabric to put pieces upside down. I did have to break this rule for the two upper back pieces I used, although those were cut on the bias to allow for better shaping around the bottom. Check out a rough layout on the left and notice that all the pieces are laid in the same direction to deal with the piling, just be aware that it is *not* a pattern, and you won’t be able to obtain one from it. However, it should give you a rough idea of how the pieces should look once laid out on the fabric. Remember you can also cut the pieces a bit smaller as the stretch should counteract this. Just don’t skimp: you’re supposed to be comfortable and fabulous, not look like a sausage.

After that, it was just a question of cutting, pinning, checking fit (turns out that my upsizing of the pattern had resulted in about 20 cms too much fabric around the hips) and sewing. An overlocker is the best for knits and certainly for stretch crushed velvet, although I had to take out my standard machine to add the top. Be aware that the waistband will add stability and keep the shape better, particularly if you do what I did and cut the waistband along the length, where there was, at least on my fabric, far less of a stretch. You can do a rolled hem along the bottom using the overlocker too, this will make it easier for you.

The final skirt does look rather stunning, although I think it needs a bit of a trim along the back still. I have enough fabric in teal to make another, hopefully this time with the full flare, which should match the teal bra I made, and the upcoming matching belt. You can see it below in all its glory, although I will not have a photo of me wearing it until I finish off the matching belt and bra. And on the side, you can see the Hanan belt that will also be in use with this, and of course, you can check out how I did a body stocking to match too.

Wine Mermaid Skirt

Wine Mermaid Skirt

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