Did you know that when you Google “merman tail blanket,” you get a boatload of results for MERMAID tail blanket? True fact.
Where is the gender equity? Or can we at least call them fishtail blankets?
OK, I’m joking — not about the importance of gender equity, but about being worked up about a blanket with a fin.
I used a free mermaid blanket sewing pattern to stitch snuggly blankies for my sons, ages 5 and 22 months, for Christmas. (Santa brought the boys these blankets, so if you know me IRL, please don’t spill the beans!)
This mermaid blanket sewing pattern was speedy and simple to sew — I stitched both blankets in about 75 minutes. If you’d like to make a fishtail blanket for the small fry in your life, keep reading for mermaid blanket how-to tips!
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Diving into the mermaid blanket sewing pattern
This mermaid blanket sewing pattern was a freebie in the December ’16/January ’17 edition of Sew News magazine. Click here to get the free merman/maid PDF pattern. (Please note that this pattern will no longer be free after Jan. 31, 2017.)
Instructions for the mermaid tail blanket appear only in the magazine. I think, however, a thoughtful sewist could figure out how to sew the fishtail blanket. (Sew the tail, sew the band, sew the band to the tail.)
The mermaid blanket for kids is a 12-page PDF sewing pattern. When you print the pattern, you’ll find there are no marks to align pattern pieces. That’s why the first page of the PDF has a “map” of how the pattern pieces go together.
The pattern gives two views: a tail with a contrasting tail fin, or a tail that’s all one color.
I opted against the contrasting tail. When I assembled the paper pattern, I taped the tail fin to the main tail and called it a day. I didn’t add back length (1 inch total) to make up for the lost seam between the now-joined pattern pieces.
What I liked about the mermaid blanket how-to
There are three chief things I dig about this mermaid blanket sewing pattern:
1.) It’s a fast sew. Minimum pattern pieces + few seams + sewist friendly fabric. D-O-N-E.
2.) It’d be fun for newbies. This would be a fun project for young sewists (maybe Scouts or 4-H kiddos). They’d practice sewing curves and get a charge out to sewing something B-I-G.
3.) There’s no finishing. You don’t have to finish edges when you sew with fleece. That’s because fleece is a knit — F-A-C-T. Squirrel away that bit of trivia for a rainy day.
How the mermaid blanket sewing pattern could better
This fast-and-easy mermaid blanket for kids could be improved in at least two ways:
1.) Refine the yardage requirements. The pattern calls for 1 1/2 yards if you’re NOT doing the contrasting tail fin. That’s 54 inches. If you ARE doing the contrasting tail fin, it calls for 1 1/4 yards for the main part of the tail and 1/2 yard for the contrasting tail fin — that’s 63 inches. Suspicious.
2.) Fix a measurement typo. The magazine reads, “The perfect gift, this 50″-long child-size blanket-bag sews up so quickly, you’ll have one finished before bedtime.” The blanket, as the directions have you make it, should be 53 inches long. The 50 inches DOESN’T include the band (which, once sewn, would be 3 1/2 inches tall, less 1/2-inch seam allowance). #accuracy
Tips for sewing your own mermaid tail blanket
Don’t clip too close to the stitching.
The curves around the bottom of the tail should be clipped. Clipping helps the fishtail lie flatter when it’s turned right side out.
I know my boys’ pointy feet will be shoved and wiggling deep inside the merman tail fin, putting a lot of stress on the seam. I got a little too close to the seam in some spots as I was clipping, so I added stitching for added strength. We’ll see how it holds up.
Buy extra yardage… or else.
When it came to cutting the merman tails, I had to get creative. I was cutting it (pun intended!) REALLY close with having enough fleece to make the blankets.
The pattern calls for cutting two tail pieces and two band pieces. The band pieces are supposed to be 7-by-26 inches.
The tail pieces (tail fin and main tail) are 50 inches long. As I mentioned, the yardage requirement was 54 inches.
That leaves 4 inches above (or below) the tail to cut a 7-by-26-inch band. (Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.) And there wasn’t enough fabric left between the two tail pieces (see above) to harvest the band from the middle.
My band pieces ended up being 4-by-26 inches. I did not have enough fleece to make the bands 7 inches wide.
The moral of the story is: Add 1/8 yard (at minimum, more like 1/4 yard to be safe) to the fabric requirement or you won’t have enough for the 7-by-26-inch band.
Educate yourself about fleece.
This pattern calls for 1 3/4 yards of cuddle fleece. I went up and down the fleece aisles at Jo-Ann, but I didn’t find anything specifically called “cuddle” fleece.
I went with Jo-Ann’s anti-pill fleece, which was advertised as holding up well for repeated washings (important for sticky and messy little boys).
For the record, cuddle fleece is more like minky, the fleecy baby blanket fabric that often has raised dots. Some varieties of cuddle fleece are terry on one side and minky on the other.
Buy extra fleece if you’re using a directional print.
I wish this mermaid blanket sewing pattern would have included a note about using a directional print. I’m not a newbie sewist, so yes, I should have known to buy extra yardage. You take that instruction for granted sometimes!
Because I had to really squeeze the pattern pieces out of my yardage, I cut the merman tails in opposite directions. This means the fabric pattern is in opposite directions. (The illustration and photo above demonstrate what I’m talking about.)
It’s not so bad for the dinosaur print, which is more of a toss/non-directional repeat. But the monster trucks definitely have a direction.
Oh well. The monster trucks are for my little guy (22 months), and I don’t think he minds. Besides, I always can pitch it as, “They’re right-side up when you’re in the blanket.” Or, “If it bothers you, put the upside-down side under your butt.”
Use a longer stitch length.
I used a 3.5 millimeter stitch and an all-purpose needle. I didn’t want the stitches too tiny in case I had to rip a seam. I recommend a longer stitch; the stitches sink into the squishy fabric.
Over to you, sewing friends: What tips do you have for sewing with fleece? Have you sewn a mermaid tail blanket — kid- OR adult-sized? Have any great stories about botching directional prints? Please sound off in comments!
P.S. My little guy was napping and not available for a photo shoot. My big guy is enough of a ham to make up for his brother’s absence!
P.P.S. If you like this home decor-ish sewing post, you’d probably get down with my FREE pillow pattern, Spiegel! Click below to access the PDF ebook sewing pattern! Here’s the blog post all about Spiegel: Sewing DIY ebook: How to make a flying geese block pillow. (And if you make a Spiegel pillow, please share it on social with #siemachtspiegel! Thanks.)