Snip and sew your way to these handmade mermaid dolls. They're sure to make a splash!

By Heather Rhodes
May 21, 2008

What You'll Need:

Sewing machine
Poster board
Glue gun and glue sticks
White, beige, or brown soft muslin (about 21 by 30 inches)
Poly-Fil stuffing
Thread to match hair color (yarn) and thread to match body-cloth color
Fabric, tulle, ribbon (satin or cloth)
Sequins, beads, buttons, small seashells, and wire
Acrylic paint
Fine, iridescent glitter
Top Pattern
Bottom Pattern

Doll Body
1) Make a pattern for doll body using two pattern pieces provided (follow directions on pattern pieces). Use poster board to ease tracing.

2) Cut two cloth shapes. Place back-to-back, fitting accurately along edges. Stitch an edge seam with sewing machine, leaving an opening about 2 to 3 inches on the side for stuffing.

3) Turn body inside out, so that seams are on the inside (an unsharpened pencil with an eraser makes this a breeze).

4) Stuff the doll; starting with the head, then neck, arms, legs. Do the torso last. Be sure to stuff tightly, as the stuffing will compact over time.

5) Hand-stitch the opening on the side with matching thread.

1) Cut about 40 strands of yarn to desired length. Add lengths of ribbon if desired.

2) Flatten yarn (and ribbon, if used) on table, lined up with ends flush.

3) Using the sewing machine, stitch down the middle of the yarn pieces; this creates a part in the hair. Stitch back and forth, making sure to catch all of the yarn strands.

4) Position the yarn "hair" on the doll. Starting slowly and with a little bit of glue, attach the hair to your doll's head. Style by braiding, cutting, creating an up-do, or adding adornments.

1) Paint on the tail (and halter top, if not using fabric) with watered-down acrylic paints or fabric paint, available at craft stores.

2) Fashion a halter-top by gluing a strip of cloth around the chest area. For straps, glue ribbon onto the shoulders, tying at the back. A hot-glue gun is best to attach fabrics, ribbon, and other adornments.

3) Attach shredded fabric or tulle to mimic the look of seaweed. Add buttons, a beaded trim, or sequins for an elaborate finishing touch.

4) Cover uneven edges with satin ribbon to give a polished effect.

5) If you want a layered look, begin with heavier fabric and finish with filmy, transparent layers.

6) Adorn your doll with jewelry made from small, glass beads or tiny seashells strung on thin wire.

1) Practice drawing the face with pencil on paper first, then try paintbrush and paint on paper.

2) When you're pleased with your paper artwork, use fine brushes to carefully paint eyes, lips, and nose on your fabric doll.

3) To give the face a bit of color, dust powder blush onto the cheeks.

4) For the finishing touch, sprinkle the doll with iridescent glitter for a shimmering-water effect.

Heather Rhodes can be reached at, or visit