Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Mermaids and a Patchwork Skirt

You might remember that Maria requested a Mermaid brooch a while back. To be honest, it's not something that's been high on my making list. But this week, with so much time spent at the beach (and now in the sea too), mermaids have been more on my mind! Especially with beach activities like these going on right under my nose...

Subtle reminder perhaps?!

So I had a bit of a doodle, and started to come up with a shape I quite liked...

Here it is sewn...

But I decided it wasn't working on the hessian and switched to a light, plain fabric instead, with a bit more detail, and then cut out...

I quite liked how this was going, and with the beautiful quilts of Joan Dawson still fresh in my mind from my recent trip to the Quilt Show...

Spot the sea glass sewn into the quilt to embellish it.

... with her gorgeous use of sea glass sewn onto the fabric, I had the (possibly) brilliant idea of sewing some of my sea glass on to my mermaid's tail. That's for another post though - because I haven't tried it yet! But once I'd decided on that course of action, all of a sudden that particular mermaid brooch didn't seem quite right for Maria. Since I still wanted to make something mermaid related for Maria my mind wandered a bit more...

I don't normally have the urge to make clothes for my children, but recently I've been feeling like dabbling in it. I think I'd have to mostly blame The Great British Sewing Bee for this (for non UK readers it's a tv series that's been running - a group of keen amateur sewers, different challenges each week, focusing mainly on dress making, a sewer is eliminated each week until the final when a 'champion' is crowned).

Then when this patchwork skirt popped up before my eyes, on Pinterest, the other day...

Here on Pinterest
 I decided I had to try a patchwork skirt myself. And the 2 ideas clicked together and I suddenly wanted to make Maria a seasidey patchwork skirt with my mermaid appliqued/embroidered on there.

I have a deep dislike of following patterns, so I just made myself a very simple paper pattern for an A line skirt. I'd decided on an easy elasticated waist so I just measured Maria around her widest part (her bottom!), measured how long I wanted it to be and drew it on a folded piece of paper. It might make more sense in a photo perhaps...

Here it is cut out, but still folded down the right,  with notes added if you can read them!

And now opened up, I half wish I'd made it slightly more 'A' line.
I sewed some strips together roughly to the shape of my pattern, and then trimmed them up more exactly. I used a couple of old scraps and a couple of old shirts for the fabric. Here they are with my mermaid sewn on too...

Apologies for the feet! I'm having trouble with Picasa at the moment and haven't been able to crop my photos. It's amazing how lazy you can get taking photos when you think you can crop them!

And a little closer on the mermaid...

Then I just sewed down both sides, right sides together. A couple of my fabrics were very fine so I also sewed a plain yellow lining (exactly the same shape) in some thin, yellow cotton and slipped it inside the patchwork skirt before I then turned over my waistband with both the layers. Finally I just needed to insert my elastic and hem both the patchwork outer skirt and the yellow lining. Hope that makes sense, bit sparse on photos near the end, but it was all so quick and easy I didn't want to stop to take them.

I added a few, old mother of pearl buttons...

Easier to wash than sea glass!

And it was all done...

With a glimpse of the yellow lining.

It was a really gorgeous day today, and we were going to the beach. Perfect for a photo shoot, and I remembered the skirt. But it was warm and sunny, and the beach and sea were so beautiful that as soon as we got there Maria (and the bigger ones too) were all straight into their wet suits and we were off to get wet and sandy. Photo shoots were forgotten.

I did remember just as we were about to leave - when my camera was almost out of battery, Maria's t-shirt had somehow fallen in a rockpool, the skirt was all crumpled and I was getting a little nervous about how fast the tide was coming in on our patch of the beach. I managed one quick photo...

Not the perfect photos I'd envisaged, but we had the perfect day instead!

I'm doing lots of linking up today -  linky parties at Sew Fresh Quilts,  Freshly Pieced, Freemotion by the River and tomorrow at My Quilt Infatuation.




  1. What a splendid skirt!Now I want one! :)

  2. Sew sweet! Love all the great photos! Looks like you and the kids have been having a lot of fun. And the skirt is just too cute! Those buttons were such an nice touch. Makes it look like bubbles under the water. Great job!

  3. What a precious little mermaid on the beautiful skirt you made!! The buttons are a great addition! Great photos on the beach and I like the way the kids made the mermaid in the sand tail. Thanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

  4. The skirt is wonderful and not to disagree, but I thought the photos were perfect. They made me feel like I was right there, with you and your family. Thanks for sharing them.

  5. beautiful photos! the last one is a stunner. love that mermaid brooch and the photo of the shell quilt. stunning!

    Emily at


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