Last week was Abby's fifth birthday party, which meant present-shopping, which I love, usually. Her father told me that Abby loves everything pink and girly, especially The Little Mermaid and dress-up. I also know she loves cats, having two new kittens of her own.
Sadly the toy store options, though vast, were limited. Disney is putting a huge push on Tinkerbell just now and frankly I found the displays a little depressing anyway, not least because I guessed that many other people would be bringing many of these very same gifts.
So I went to a card store instead and bought this:
I had an evil plan to use up some felted thrift-store sweaters and hit all of Abby's favourite things, all at once.
First I took measurements (design tip: Lands' End is a great place to get average measurements, using their Size Charts) and made these three pattern pieces:
I did try to get a child's crown pattern online but none felt really right - what I did in the end was to cut out a half-triangle to trace for the point that goes onto the fold, then used it as a template for the two sides of each subsequent point until I had half the dimension of a small child's head. The tabs on the back, cut to taper so as not to obscure the gems if the crown is taken to its smallest size, are extra inches to allow Abby to go on wearing this for a while.
The cat's crown didn't need tabs because the cat isn't going to get bigger, so when I realized I could cut the piece out of the top of a felted sweater sleeve I folded the tab in when positioning the pattern.
I didn't have enough of any one colour sweater to make perfectly matched crowns for Abby and the cat, so I made them complementary. After I sewed on a lot of gem pieces I stitched a small piece of the grabby side of Velcro onto the inside of one end of the tab (using bobbin thread that matched the fabric - ha, remembered!)
The mermaid's tail pattern is half the width of the cat's tummy, and stays that width for the length of its lower body, then tapers in to make the fins. These measurements will vary depending on what animal you're making fishlike, so I will leave them to you. I did add in a little seam allowance but not much, since stuffed cats squish and sweaters stretch and I didn't want the tail to just fall off.
This black wool, though textured in a nicely scaley way, was too heavy to sew and generally Ew, but I had this wavy-cabled Aran sweater used initially for mitten backs that offered the perfect shape and allowed me to use the ribbing as the cat's waistband:
I folded the tail inside out stitched it from the ribbing to the start of the fins, then flipped it back and did a blanket stitch border around the fins. You have to do the blanket stitching twice - once with each side facing - to finish it properly. And then I embroidered a little heart on the back.
The crowns took one evening, and the tail about four hours the next day, mostly because it took so long to decide on which sweater bits were best. I'm pleased with how it came out though. She looks pretty cute, don't you think?