Makeshift Mermaid Princess, in Yellow Rain Boots

Makeshift Mermaid Princess costume by Retro Modern Kids
My daughter will be 5 in a couple days, so I have been surreptitiously shopping, baking delicious chocolate cake (this super easy old-fashioned recipe), and sewing up a last-minute makeshift mermaid outfit.

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow, G got the idea that all parties are costume parties. Especially birthday parties. Last year, on the Monday of her Saturday party, she announced “I’m going to be Spidergirl!” to our friends, neighbors, and the clerks at Whole Foods. She told everyone. I had not planned any sewing. I was working full-time in an office, AND getting ready to move across the world from California to Sweden. But I was able to pull it off (thank you Amazon Prime!) and she was Spidergirl at her party.

Last month, she brought up the subject of her birthday party. “I want it at the big playground, and I want to be a mermaid!” After she described her ideal mermaid birthday costume, I pictured her shimmying around in a sequined wiggle-skirt tail and a “clamshell bra,” (her request), in miserable heat, doing face-plants at the foot of the slide. We talked about it, and looked at some pictures on the internet of various mermaid-y things, and compromised. She asked for a “coral top,” “big flooffy water skirt,” a “seaweed belt,” and “some gold starfish.”

The truth is, most of my creative energy is focused on Retro Modern Kids right now, so I kind of threw this together last-minute. The coral top is a castaway Old Navy tunic from a year or more ago. Of course she loves it now. The seaweed headband and belt were fabric scraps from my stash, and the puffy gold stars came off some clearance H&M barrettes. The flooffy tulle romantic-tutu-like skirt was the only challenge. It had to be “flooffy, twirly, and water-colored…”


I could not find any soft, flowing, water-colored tulle so I knew I had to improvise. I bought two cheap-ish “water-colored” dresses at H&M (something like this, but in aqua) in way-too-big sizes. I cut the bodices off before slitting the skirts up one side and sewing them together. I gathered, I sewed, and in the end I had a flooffy, twirly skirt that was exciting enough to satisfy my little mermaid.

Now, G’s party is not until this coming Saturday. But of course, she wanted to give the outfit a little test-spin. As a sewist I was thrilled. As a mom, I wanted to keep the ensemble clean and untattered, which means no playground, no peanut butter jelly hands, no “swimming” (flopping) around on the floor like a mermaid. So, I let her wear the outfit to the grocery store, and was able to snag a few action photos in return. As fun as it was pulling this little mermaid princess look together, I’m excited to get back to my “real” designing and sewing projects for Retro Modern Kids. The next time I post I hope to have at least a part of one of my new RMK designs ready to show. I must admit, I think G is onto something with the flooffy, long, twirly skirt for girls, though. Don’t you?




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