Merinda the home made mermaid

My daughter’s latest school project was to design and make her own toy. She could make anything, although the school suggested a board game, however, with a little help from Mum (me) Madeline designed and made this beautiful Mermaid called Merinda. It was such fun and we’re so pleased with the result we decided to share it with you all.

Turn children's drawings into soft toys

What we used

  • 1x old sheet
  • Felt tip pens
  • Cottons
  • Sewing machine with free embroidery foot
  • Embroidery thread
  • Stuffing (we used an old cushion)
  • Other bits and bobs for decoration

What we did

  1. Madeline designed her mermaid using pencil crayons.

    Madeline's design

    Madeline’s design

  2. I then copied the outline of her design onto an old sheet using marker pens.
  3. With help Madeline added the mouth and eyes using embroidery thread, she’s done a little bit of sewing so she knew exactly what to do, she also added eyelashes using a pencil.
  4. Madeline coloured in the tail and hair using flip chart pens, obviously fabric pens would be better but we used what we had.


    Adding colour to the tail

  5. The mermaid’s bikini top was made from a small silver drawstring jewellery bag which I found and cut into circles. Then using a free embroidery foot on the sewing machine and an embroidery hoop I used blue thread to sew the bikini top onto the mermaid and to create the lovely circular pattern Madeline had on her design.
  6. Madeline then added the hair. Again using a free embroidery foot, an embroidery hoop and this time yellow cotton, she used a up and down motion to add the hair. Madeline did most of this herself whilst sat on my knee, I worked the pedal whilst she did the actual sewing.

    Make your own toys

    Madeline adds the hair

  7. Once the detail was added we cut out the mermaid. I left about a 3cm gap around the line drawing of the mermaid As I wanted to make sure the drawing was still visible. We also cut a matching back piece out of the old sheet. (We kept the back of our mermaid blank.)

    Cutting round the outline leaving a 3cm gap

    Cutting round the outline leaving a 3cm gap

  8. We then put the right sides of the mermaid together and Madeline helped me pin it in place.
  9. I then sewed the seam leaving about a 1cm gap between the stitching and the pen outline . I left a 4 inch gap to insert stuffing.

    Sew round the outline leaving a 1 cm gap

    Sew round the outline leaving a 1 – 1.5 cm gap

  10. I cut slits in any tight angles to ensure they sat correctly when turned the right way round, the main areas that needed snipping were under the arms and at the bottom of the tail.
  11. After turning the mermaid inside out (right way round) we stuffed it using stuffing from an old Ikea cushion.
  12. After adding a little stuffing the the hair and tail, I sewed on the outline of the head to create a line to separate the head and hair and to separate the fin from the tail.

    I added extra seams at the hair, crown and fin lines to create extra detail.

    I added extra seams at the hair, crown and fin to create extra detail.

  13. Madeline stuffed the rest of the mermaid with as much stuffing as she could fit in.
  14. I then over-stitched the gap in the seam to make it secure.
  15. Madeline added the bead necklace she had made for her Merinda and added some stars to her tail to finish her off.

This has been the best school project ever, we both thoroughly enjoyed making this and Madeline now has a toy which she has designed and made herself, priceless. Why not have a go at turning one of your child’s drawing into a toy to preserve it forever.
Tracy x


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