Making a fabulous Ariel costume is completely doable at home. Paying attention to the little details and adding some big ornaments of your own are the keys to achieving the perfect Ariel look. With a little time, patience, and skill, you'll be able to make a new Ariel costume in no time!
Part 1 of 4: Making the top
Step 1. Gather your supplies
To make Ariel's top, you will need 4 components: the top of a strapless purple swimsuit (or bra or bandeau), 2 large seashells, and a strip of sheer purple fabric the size and shape of a scarf.. This is a very basic list and there are multiple ways to go about almost every item on it, so alternative options will be mentioned at each step. You can mix and match what works best for you to get the perfect Ariel costume.
You will also need a sewing machine, purple thread, scissors, quick glue, and light purple paint (lavender or lilac are the shades of color you will need)
Step 2. Sew the sheer purple fabric to the bottom of the purple strapless bodice
You can use a machine to make it or sew it by hand, whichever you prefer. Since it's such a minimal amount of sewing, you could easily do it by hand if you'd like. The fabric is square in shape, and you will need one of the flat sides to be the part that will be sewn into the purple strapless top.
After sewing, the sheer fabric should hang approximately at the waist, covering most of the stomach. Put it on to make sure it looks the way you want it to before proceeding. If everything looks good, put the top aside for now
Step 3. Get 2 seashells for the top
Ariel has two matching seashells on top of her outfit, one on each side. Both are about the size of a palm. You can make a perfectly similar Ariel costume without using this item, but it's a cute detail from the movie that will really set the costume apart. Skip this step if you are going to omit the seashell element. To make the seashells, you can use real shells or a light purple felt fabric cut into a seashell shape.
- If you want to use real seashells, look on Amazon (or another similar site). You can order them this way, and the price is relatively low. You will need the shells to be roughly the same size, so when ordering be sure to let the seller know.
- If you live near an ocean, you always have the option of getting the shells by taking a trip to the beach.
- If you are using fabric for the shells, get purple felt (if possible, a shade lighter than the rest of the top).
Step 4. Prepare the shells
If you are going to use real shells, you will need to paint them light purple (lavender or lilac is the color you will need). Use acrylic paint, which you can get at any art store for very little money. Paint the front of each shell with the purple acrylic paint and set them to dry on an old towel. Acrylic paint takes 20-30 minutes to dry completely. If you are using fabric for the shells, simply cut the shell shapes to the size you want (about the size of your palm).
- You can also use purple spray paint to make the shells.
- Feel free to add any additional elements you want to the shells. Some great ideas would be adding glitter, gluing on rhinestones, adding additional painted details, or whatever you want!
Step 5. Glue the shells onto the purple top
You will need to use quick glue to do this, whether you are adding real shells or fabric shells. The shells have a flat bottom and a fan-shaped top. Lay the shells with the tops fanning out toward each arm and with the bottoms flat toward the center of the chest, so that each swimsuit cup is covered by a shell.
Quick glue dries in about 30 seconds and sets in 2 minutes. When you place the shell on top, hold it firmly in place for 2 minutes before moving on to the next shell
Part 2 of 4: Making the bottom
Step 1. Gather your supplies
To make Ariel's tail and fins, you will need a large piece of green fabric and about a meter of bright turquoise blue fabric. For green fabric, you need a fabric that has some stretch. Lycra is a good choice.
You will also need a sewing machine, green and blue thread, scissors, and about 12 inches of elastic
Step 2. Prepare the green material for the glue
Lay the green fabric on the ground and have a friend trace a mermaid tail around your body with a Sharpie marker. When tracing, make sure your friend draws the lines 1 inch (2.5 cm) away from your body so that the final piece does not fit too closely. Cut out the piece of fabric after the traced lines have been drawn. You will need 2 of these.
- Since you will need two of these green pieces, you could save time and ensure that the pieces are identical in size by folding the green fabric in half before you begin. That way you can trace around your body and trim both identically at the same time.
- When you lie down on the green cloth, you should make sure that you are on top of it only from the waist down. The fabric needs to extend past your feet when you lie down. This is so the fins can be drawn
- If you prefer, you can lie on a large piece of paper and trace your body on it. You can then use it as a pattern to cut the fabric to size.
Step 3. Sew the two pieces of green fabric together
You will need to sew the two pieces together around the tail, leaving only the top open and unstitched for the waist. This is so you can put it on once the suit is ready.
Step 4. Create the fins
Take the green fabric and put the end on top of the bright turquoise blue fabric. Trace around the bottom of the green fabric, where the fins are, onto the blue fabric. Next, cut out the fins from the blue fabric. Sew the blue fabric over the green one.
Step 5. Cut a gap in the fins
Now you have to cut a slit at the bottom of the tail so that you can walk. Cut the slit right in the middle of the fins, starting at the bottom, down to the knees. This creates an opening for the feet and lower legs, so you can walk around in the costume.
You can cut the slit just at the bottom of the fins, so your legs are not showing
Step 6. Sew the elastic band on top of the fins
You will do it right where the green tail meets the blue fins. Sew it completely. This allows you to put on the bottom of the costume, and the bottom of the tail will cling to the bottom, similar to Ariel's tail.
Part 3 of 4: Make the bottom (option 2)
Step 1. Gather your supplies
To make Ariel's tail you will need a large piece of green fabric that has some stretch. Lycra is a good choice. Check out the material intended for dancewear, as you can find some really fun material, such as a dark green fabric covered in green sequins and other sparkly things that would be great for Ariel.
You will also need a sewing machine, green thread, and scissors
Step 2. Wrap the green material around the waist
Adjust it until you have the ideal fit for you. Make sure that, once wrapped around the waist, the material extends past your feet for a distance of 6 inches (15 cm). Bring it towards the legs all the way, stopping at the heels.
You can stop at the calves instead of the heels if you want to get a costume that is a little easier to move
Step 3. Put the garment in place from the heel to the waist
Before fixing, make sure it fits exactly the way you want it. Now you have the base of the tail there. The green material will come out in front of the feet at a distance of about 15 centimeters (6 inches), with the material gathered at the heels at the rear, creating a tail fin effect.
Step 4. Sew the garment from the heels to the waist
You can leave the material on while a friend sews it by hand, or you can remove it and use a sewing machine to sew it.
Part 4 of 4: Complete the Costume
Step 1. Get a long red hair wig
Ariel's hair is very long, red, and wavy. You will need to style the hair so that it is tousled but pretty. Use bobby pins to fix it on your head. If you have a hard time finding one, you can definitely order a cheap wig online.
- It would be nice to add some small ornaments in the hair, such as small barrettes with starfish on them.
- You could also lightly mist your hair with canned glitter made specifically for hair. It will look pretty and it will look like a raindrop effect.
Step 2. Imitate Ariel's makeup
You will need to wear red lipstick in a shade almost identical to the red hair in the wig. That is the most important element.
You could also add aqua glitter eyeshadow or face glitter for a very Ariel-like look
Step 3. Add the finishing touches
There are so many things you can do to get there, and your imagination is the limit! Body glow would be great for Ariel. Also, painting your nails a pretty shiny silver shade would be a great touch!
- Ask someone to help you make this costume, as you will need help in some parts.
- See photos for help and guidance along the way.
- Be safe when using sewing machines and sewing needles.
- Be careful walking around in this costume, as you will need to maneuver around Ariel's tail.