Did you get a Mermaid in a Jar kit? We're really glad you did. My girls had a great time making mermaids, and we hope you will too.
By the way, my girls were 4 and 7 when we did this project, and they needed a lot of help. You might be able to handle it on your own by age 10 or so, especially if you have some sewing experience.
If you are doing this project with younger kids, check out my related entry on how to keep them involved but still have a nice, solid project at the end.
Here is what you will find inside your jar* felt cut-outs, two each for the mermaid's body and tail, and one for her bra
* embroidery thread in flesh and tail colors, and a little pink
* yarn for hair
* small beads for eyes
* assorted small jewels or beads
Here is what you will need to gather from your own supplies* Scissors for snipping thread
* glue, either tacky or fabric (optional if you decide not to sew sequins)
* disappearing fabric marker (optional, to help with face embroidery)
Here are a couple of sewing stitches you need to know* back stitch
* blanket stitch
* running stitch
Once you've gathered your supplies, make sure you have a good place to work. We recommend a table, not your bedroom floor!
Step One: Make her a face!
- Find your first body piece.
- Using your disappearing fabric marker, draw her a cute smile and mark the position for her eyes.
- Thread your needle with two strands of pink embroidery floss and backstitch her mouth
- Find her little bead eyes and sew them on. (Needle won't fit? You could always glue these.)
Step Two: Stitch up her body
- Place the two body pieces together, tie a good knot, and thread your needle with two strands of flesh colored embroidery thread
- Starting at the "hips," use the blanket stitch to sew the two body pieces together. (The blanket stitch looks harder than it is, but you can always use an overstitch if it is giving you trouble. We used an overstitch with my four year old.)
- Leave the entire bottom of the body - between the hips - open. Tie off your thread.
- Lightly stuff her body with polyfill (you could also use cotton balls or even dried beans if you make another and run out of stuffing!). You can use a pencil or pen to help stuff the arms.
Step Three: The Tail
- Decide if you're going to sew on the sequins, or glue them. The former is time consuming and tedious, but very reliable. Glue is much easier, but they won't hold up to much handling afterwards before you start to lose them.
- If you're sewing them, get to it! I prefered to come up from the back, thread on a sequin, and then go back in from the front, then repeat. (If you're gluing, do that at the end.)
- Thread your needle with two strands of tail-colored floss and use the backstitch to sew the two tail pieces together. Start and end at opposite "hips" again, remembering to leave the entire top open.
- Lightly stuff with polyfill, making sure to leave quite a bit of space at the top for her body
Step Four: Put it all together
- Gently slide the body into the tail, adjusting stuffing levels for a good fit
- Once it's right, thread your needle with two strands of tail-colored floss and using a simple running stitch to sew the tail to the body. Be careful to go through just two layers, not the entire body!
Step Five: Hair!
- Separate your yarn into 5 hanks, and tie each around its midpoint with a piece of the same yarn.
- Using flesh-colored floss, sew 4 hanks set to hang down, evenly spaced just around the very top of the head, but on the back side.
- Sew the fifth hank dead center, just to the front, and spread out to each side. Added a stitch or two around a couple of strands at the side of the head to keep it in place. Think of the way you pin back center-parted hair behind your ears (assuming you don't do bangs.)
- There are other ways to sew on hair, so feel free to experiment!
And definitely check out the photo above for a little guidance
Step 6: Final Details
- Assuming you didn't sew on the sequins, it's time to glue them.
- Apply a moderate amount of fabric or tacky glue to the front of the tail. Sprinkle on sequins, or - if you're feeling patient - place them individually
- You may glue on her bra, or sew it on with a simple running stitch with tail-coordinated floss. If you want, use a backstitch to put "strap" details around her shoulders and back.
- Sew or glue additional beads and gems at her hairline or as a necklace - use your imagination!
- Let any glue dry overnight.