Pattern Review: Mermaid Skirt from Goldenbuch

While I have made a few skirts for myself in the past, I’ve been wanting a more classical mermaid shape for a while. Mostly because the pattern I was using had a train on the back, and while dancing, I found myself stepping on it a few times.

Now, finding mermaid patterns for plus sizes can be difficult, but I did find one on Etsy that I liked the look of. The pattern photos are for smaller sizes and look amazing. The drawing for the plus size was a bit less fitting, but still looked good. So bought it, printed the size I thought I would need, assembled and cut it, and set it aside.

I am making an effort to sew more, and decided to finally hit that mermaid/tulip skirt itch. The plan was to make it in stretch fabric -necessary for dancing-, with the pattern modified to my height, and adding a super wide waistband to keep the flamenco inspiration. I would use one of the fabrics in the “don’t have a project for this anymore” pile as a mockup, and go on from there.

This mockup, then, was made with a metallic stretch. Let me preface by saying that I HATE this fabric. It looks great, has a subtle sheen that makes it look almost like chainmail. But it feels plasticky and awful to the touch. I can probably stand it for a short performance but it’s most definitely not my first choice, which is why I never used the fabric after receiving it and realising I hated it (and let that be a lesson, don’t buy fabric remnants from others without really knowing what you’re getting).

The original pattern is formalwear, and so was drafted to use while wearing high heels, and made in non stretch fabric. So my main issues when adjusting it had to do with this. I first had to reduce the length without reducing the bottom flare, and adjusting for the longer length I would need at the back due to bum curve. I adjusted the length by reducing it at the thigh area, where the pattern pieces are straight. You need to make sure you keep the marks to join the pieces, but it was straighforwards to do. You can see in the first photo above how I just folded down the pattern pieces and secured with tape. Adding back the inches for the bum section required a bit of extra manipulation on the two back pieces but wasn’t that bad. If you are not familiar with how to do this, I would suggest you just make it all the same length as the back, and then adjust the waist in the front as necessary.

There are four pattern pieces that give you 7 pieces in total, plus the waist band. On the more narrow metallic fabric, I needed just about 4 metres to cut the whole skirt. There were a few imperfections in the fabric that required me to split the two back pieces in two (see photo) so I used the triangle shape I have in my other skirt pattern, and added seam allowance.

The assembly was straightforwards: sew all the pieces together, try on, adjust waist and hips as what you need for stretch materials is not what you need for bridal wovens. The pieces are labelled but sometimes it’s not clear which side of each piece attaches to which other piece, so I recommend you check on the pattern pieces before cutting, and add notices on them as to what goes where. I found the centre front piece was way too wide for my prefered aesthetic but overall it all worked out decently. The waistband was just a double layer of fabric sewn to the top, that unfortunatly I made too long so will have to come under whatever top I wear with it.

The results of that first mockup were ok. It didn’t look anywhere nearly as fitted as the photos in the pattern, but you can’t expect that for dancing and of course using stretch fabric affects fit. However, I didn’t like the flaring, which was, again, far less dramatic than the photos. This was very likely caused by the top not being tight, and the lack of petticoat to flare it out. I finished the hem by overlocking then turning it one cm and machine stitching (see image in the gallery). I then called it a day for this version of the skirt.

Second go was with stretch cotton jersey. Sadly I forgot about the centre piece width issue so ended again with a much wider front that what I wanted, and I will need to make another mockup reducing this. I made the wide waistband a shorter length, with two pieces shaped roughly like a really chunky hourglass, that I folded over. More importantly was correcting the flare. I first identified where the flare started down each seam , and marked it.I then moved to the hem, and added 4cm to the sides of every single piece at the hem, except the centre back where I added 6 at the point of the the central seam to have a bit more of a train without the extra length. And then I traced a straight line from that new end of hem to the flare start I’d marked before. You can see what I mean in the images to the side and in the gallery below. The flare now is much nicer for this fabric, and flows better, although I wouldn’t be against adding even more if I have the fabric to spare. The cotton lycra jersey was wider than the metallic I’d used before, and needed probably around 3.5 metres for the full skirt.

I still have one more nice fabric that I’d like to use for this shape, but I’d like to adjust the pattern so will need a second mockup first. I’d like the centre front piece smaller. I’d like the shape to be a bit tighter around the knees before the flare. I’d like the shaping around the top to be more accurate to my body and not require trial and error, but I don’t have a standard body shape so that’s to be expected. If your measurements are more in line with what is on the sizing, this might work well for you.

Was it easy to do? Yes. The home printing and assembling can be a bit annoying but that’s true for any pdf pattern. The upsizing was done well, and I suspect the lack of fitting around the top was a choice as more plus sizes prefer to hide bumps and lumps with a smoother transition without the sharp shaping. Overall, do I recommend this pattern? YES, as long as you’re willing and able to do the alterations necessary for dancing. If you’re going to make this in a heavy satin and wear it to a formal event, you might not need to do any alterations at all. You can get the pattern at Goldbuch’s Etsy store:

And in the meantime, I’m looking forwards to using my new red skirt while dancing a fan piece I’m working on.

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