**I’ll start this post with a disclaimer. There are many other ways to create a tail, my choices were based on the materials I know how to work with, a low budget, and experimentation. That being said, it was huge learning process and the next time I make a tail I will know far better/more efficient ways to create it!**
Gold Spandex (Swimsuit grade)
Fabric Flower Petals
2-3 Gold/Pearl Fabric Paint Bottles
Illusion Fabric in Nude
1) Create Neoprene Base
Rather than purchasing Neoprene by the yard, I used an old scuba suit. I cut the inner seam and sewed both sides together. A simple way to figure out shape, sit on top, line up the bottom with your ankles, and trace your shape with white chalk. Leave 1/4 inch extra along all seams for sewing.
2) Create Spandex Slip Cover
Line up two sheets of spandex with the pattern side in. Lay the neoprene base over-top and carefully trace around ( I used a red washable marker). Place pins on the inside of the line. Cut 1/4 inch away from the line all the way around. Use the line as your sewing guide. With stretchy materials, sew everything twice for strength but NEVER sew the top or bottom if you are not using stretchy thread!
3) Flipper Covers
You may use either a Monofin or Flippers for this step. Place the Flipper/Fin on the backside of the spandex, trace with marker. I left extra fabric at the end and fluted the ends so that they could pull on like socks. In retrospect, I should have made the “sock” part more open so that slipping them on would be less complicated. Repeat steps above for sewing.
4) Create Shape Using Neoprene
The shape from the flippers was glaringly obvious. Using leftover neoprene, I added shape and filled space between the flippers. I also created a stomp-pad for the front and back to conceal my feet. The stomp-pad also protects the spandex from wearing down if you need to stand in the tail. I hand sewed these sections on.
I used metalic tubes of fabric paint to build dimension and add detail.
6) Fixing the Flipper
After I had started painting I realized something fundamentally wrong in my design. My flippers looked square and stunted. Using a plastic folder that I had on hand, I created extensions. The plastic even had some nice flip/flexibility to it! To adhere I used rubber shoe glue.
Sewing the new flipper slip covers on was very time consuming, especially with the fabric thickened with paint. The difference in appearance, however, was amazing!
The tail still lacked dimension and interest. To make the scales I pulled apart a fabric Hydrangea flower. Each of the petal clusters had 2-4 individual petals on it. I chose to cut apart my own petals over ordering individual bulk rose petals because I had a preference for variation in size and color.
After mapping out the design, I pinned them in place and hand sewed each petal in place.
8) The Top
To match the tail, I chose to create a scale top. The base of the top is made of Illusion fabric with 4-way stretch and soft cup inserts. Just like the tail, these scales are hand sewn individually. To add sparkle, I painted the inside of the scales with the gold fabric paint.
9) Finishing Touches
Even after all this, I chose to go back in and add more details. I did a full paint on the flipper, added a gradient to the back of the tail, and created texture on the the neoprene base using hot glue.
In the future I hope to create a few more in different colors using a more refined method. This one cost around $80 to make and took many hours over the course of 3 weeks to complete.
Oh, did I mention this is completely SWIMABLE!? Its a fantastic core work out!
Thanks for reading!!!!!!