Ornate mermaid corset for March of the Mermaids

I think it must have been growing up near the sea in Cornwall that left me with an inherent adoration for the mythology of mermaids. It has been a long standing dream of mine to one day attend the legendary Coney Island Mermaid Parade, held annually in New York to make the start of the summer and celebrate seaside kitsch. But hurrah! This year instead of jetting all the way to the states I can hop on a train! This Saturday 27th July brings the first ever March of the Mermaids to Brighton’s seafront.The event is the brainchild of Hannah Chilton, a sea champion for the Marine Conservation Society, and fittingly aims to raise money and awareness for the charity which protects our seas, shorelines and marine wildlife. It promises to be a fin-tastic day of family fun, Gathering from 2pm at Hove Gardens and from 3pm marching/swishing/air swimming along the seafront to the end party at Above Audio. As well as mermaids and mermen, pirates, sailors and sealife of all descriptions are welcome to join the parade! See the Facebook event here for all the details.I must have had an inkling of something fishy on the horizon, because I have already been working on a mermaid costume without a clue when I would get a chance to wear it! I’m very much looking forward to its debut on Saturday, although some practice walking in the tail is required! Since I’m of a rather curvy build I needed to come up with something more substantial than a bikini top, so I converted an old corset into an ornate mermaid top encrusted with shells and pearls. Here’s how I did itA corset in a suitable mermaid colour – I used an old one that I sprayed silver for my Rumpus costume. You could choose a colour that matches your tail if you like. Alternatively you could use a nude bodysuit.

Foam sheets x2 in a colour that matches your corset

A selection of small shells, beads and fake pearls (I used a broken plastic pearl necklace)

Two large, cleaned scallop shells or similar – ask your fishmonger!

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Spray paint in silver (optional)

Sticky backed Velcro strips Lay the corset flat and work out what area you want to decorate. Cut the foam sheets to fit the area, allowing for curvature when you put the corset on. I cut my sheets to fit the bust area, with a gap between for the busk fastenings. Make a note of the front and the sides they fit on!

Next, get together your shells and bits and pieces and plug in your glue gun. I decided to go for a rich, shimmery metallic look so before this step I sprayed my shells silver with spray paint. If you prefer you can leave your shells natural, just make sure they are all clean and dry.When you have an idea where you want your shells to go, start sticking them on to the foam pieces with hot glue (don’t burn yourself!). I stuck down the big scallop shells first, then added smaller shells, and finally filled in any gaps with pearls and beads. You will need a LOT of hot glue!When you are happy with your efforts and the glue is fully dry, put your corset on ready to attach the decorated foam pieces. Wearing it will help fit the pieces around your curvy bits properly! I decided to use sticky Velcro strips to attach the pieces so I can always remove them and use the corset for something else. Cut a strip of Velcro that runs down the length of the foam piece; peel off the backing tape from one side. Stick that side to the foam, lining it up with the boning on the corset. Then peel off the backing tape from the other side of the Velcro and stick down to the corset. I used three strips on each side to attach the shell pieces as they are quite heavy.That’s it! I am thinking of adding some tassels of green raffia (it looks like seaweed!) to the corset for a bit of extra decoration, you will see in my photos from the March of the Mermaids! You can easily adapt this method to suit other costumes, how about sticking artificial flowers to a corset for a fairy costume? Leave a comment if you’re going to have a go and let me know how you get on!

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