How to Make Scales for a Mermaid Tail

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Make your own mermaid scales.
Make your own mermaid scales. (Image: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Dressing up as a mermaid for Halloween or a play can be fun, but the costume takes some work. The most-time consuming part of making a mermaid costume are all those scales. Mermaid scales look like fish scales. How large or small you want them to be will depend on how much time you have, and how many scales you need. It's easier to make larger scales since you'll need fewer of them to cover the mermaid tail.

Things You'll Need

  • Shimmery fabric
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Cardboard

Purchase a shimmery or glitter-infused fabric that either matches the material used for the foundation of the mermaid tail or compliments it. A polyester fabric with some stretch works best because it will resist fraying.

Lay out the foundation of the mermaid tail and consider how large or small you want the scales to be. Remember that larger scales will result in less work since you'll need fewer scales to cover the tail. Smaller scales are more work but the end result will look more polished.

Make a pattern by marking a series of scales on cardboard. Mermaid scales essentially look like repetitive U's. Look at fish scales for an example. Make individual scales, or create rows of scales by making U's that touch each other. Individual scales will take more time to cut out and attach.

Lay out the fabric for your scales right-side down. Place the cardboard pattern over the fabric and trace using a pencil or tailor chalk. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Cut out the mermaid scales or rows of scales using scissors.

Attach the individual scales or the rows of scales to the foundation using fabric glue. Make sure the scales overlap slightly, just as they do on a fish. The foundation underneath the scales should not be visible. If you have enough time, you can sew on the scales instead.

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