Knitted Mermaid and Merman Costumes!

By Lauren

knitted mermaid costumes girly knits ze castle photography

This past Saturday June 18th, I had the joy of marching in the 34th annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, in none other than a hand knit mermaid costume!  This is the biggest Art Parade in the nation, where over 3,000 people come out dressed as mermaids and other sea inspired creatures, and hundreds of thousands of people come to watch!  I am always blown away by the creative visions people have for this event – everyone’s take is so different!  The coolest part is that almost all of the marchers make their own costumes (though I think I’m the only one who knitted mine 😉 )

My costume took a total a total of 65 hours to create, and I worked on it over the course of 6 weeks. Thankfully I planned ahead and got my start back in April!  I also knitted a Merman costume for my friend Ken who joined me for the parade.  He likes to show skin, lol, so that went a lot quicker than mine!  His ensemble took about 12 hours.

Below I have instructions for all of the pieces I designed, and links to the patterns I used by other designers.  Hope you enjoy! 🙂

girly knits knitted mermaid costume

Knitted Mermaid Costume


Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) 29″ circular needle, US 11 (8mm) 29″ circular needle, US F/5 (3.75mm) crochet hook (for duplicate stitch on bra shells only, size isn’t critical!)

2 Balls (680 yards) of Patons Lace Sequin in Pale Amethyst (MC)

4 Balls (860 yards) of Loops and Threads Payette in Sterling Silver (CC)

Gauge: 18 sts and 24 rows = 4″ in Stockinette St using smaller needle and 2 strands of MC held together

Note about yarn: I held the MC and CC double for the shells and top part of the skirt for 2 reasons – 1) because it was thin, and 2) because I wanted double the amount of the sequins in the yarn to show!  If you wanted to use a single strand of yarn for these pieces instead (and thus need less yardage), a DK or Worsted Weight yarn would probably work, just make sure to check your gauge!

loops and threads payette in sterling silver and patons lace sequin in pale amethyst

1 yard of .75″ wide elastic for Skirt waistband

Nude bra, assorted rhinestones, hot glue (or fabric glue), and sewing needle and thread for Shell Bra


BO: bind off

CO: cast on

k: knit

k2tog: knit 2 sts together

LH: left hand

M1L: make 1 by picking up bar between sts through front and knit through back loop

M1R: make 1 by picking up bar between sts through back and knit

lauren and ken girly knits knitted mermaid and merman costumesmeas: measure(s)

p: purl

PUK: pick up and knit

rep(s): repeat(s)

rnd(s): rnd(s)

RS: right side

sl: slip

ssk: (slip 1 knitwise) twice, insert left hand needle into slipped sts and k2tog through back loop

st(s): stitch(es)

W&T: (Wrap and Turn) Slip next st pwise, bring yarn to front if you are working a k row, or to the back if you are working a p row, slip st back onto LH needle, bring yarn to back if working a k row, or to front if knitting a p row. Turn work and begin working in opposite direction.

WS: wrong side

yo: yarn over

girly knits mermaid skirt progress picSkirt

I made the skirt circumference 32″, 4″ less then my hip circumference of 36″.  There is no shaping – elastic is inserted into the enclosed waistband to help cinch it in at the waist.  If you want to make the skirt bigger or smaller to get a perfect fit for your body, take your hip circumference and subtract 4″, or measure the hip circumference of a fitted knit skirt that you like the fit of.  Take that number and times it by the gauge (4.5 sts/inch).  I cast on 32 x 4.5 = 144 sts.  You want to cast on a multiple of 8 sts, so make sure to cast on the closest multiple of 8 to that number (in my case 144 was evenly divisible by 8).

I adapted the scale pattern from Black Sheep Wool’s “Mermaid Tail Blanket” (a super cute free pattern!)


Note: For the Top of Skirt (Scales), both the MC and CC are knit with 2 strands of yarn held together. For the Bottom of Skirt (Netting), a single strand of the CC is used.  The top part of the skirt is knitted from the bottom up.  After the top part is finished, stitches are picked up at the bottom of the skirt to knit the netting from the top down.  This allows for a great custom fit, as you will have the option to make adjustments after the skirt is finished to make it the perfect length!

Top of Skirt (Scales):

With 2 strands of CC held together and smaller needle, CO 144 sts.  Place marker and join, taking care not to twist stitches.

Rnd 1: Knit.

Rnd 2: Purl

Rnds 3-6: Change to 2 strands of MC held together.  *Sl 1, k 7; rep from * to end.

Rnd 7: Change to CC and Knit.

Rnd 8: Purl.

Rnds 9-12: Change to MC.  K4, *Sl 1, k 7; rep from * to last 3 sts, k3.

girly knits mermaid skirt detail

Rep Rnds 1-12 until skirt measures desired length, ending on Rnd 2 or 8 (I made mine 15″ long).


Continuing with CC, knit 4 rnds or for .75″ (or desired waistband width).

Purl 1 rnd.

Knit 3 rnds,

BO very loosely.

Break yarn, leaving a yard of one of the strands to seam the waistband. Thread longer end with a tapestry needle. Fold waistband at purl ridge, and seam BO edge to inside of skirt, catching every other stitch on BO edge/inside of skirt. Leave 1″ open at the end, and insert elastic. Determine desired ease of elastic and trim, leaving an extra inch so you can overlap the edges 1″ and seam together using a sewing needle and thread.  Seam remaining inch of waistband. See pics below for how I seamed the waistband of “She’s Electric” using the same techniques:

photo 3   photo 4

Bottom of Skirt (Netting):

With smaller needle and single strand of CC, PUK 144 sts along CO edge of skirt.

Change to larger needle.

Rnd 1: *Yo, k2tog; rep from * to end.

Rnd 2: Knit.

Rnd 3: K1, *yo, k2tog; rep from * to end. It will be tricky to have a stitch marker to mark the start of the round because you will keep having to move it – I used a latching marker below the round and eyed where to start and end each round!

Rnd 4: Knit.mermaid skirt blocked

Rep Rnds 1-4 until netting is desired length, keeping in mind that blocking will add a few inches!

I used a picot bind off to give it bit of a ruffled edge 🙂

Picot Bind Off: *CO 2, BO 3 tightly, sl st from RH needle onto LH needle; rep from * until all sts are bound off.


Weave in all ends.

Wet block netting.


These shells were custom designed to encompass my DD boobs.  The bra I attached them to is a 34DD, but they would also fit a 36D bra.  If you wanted to adapt these for your bra size, you would want to do less/more inc rows and make them shorter/longer.  I would suggest starting from the beginning, matching it up to your bra cups, seeing how it looks, and adapting as you go.

girly knits knitted bra shellShells (make 2):

Note: The silver “seams” are added after the shell is finished.

With 2 strands of MC held together and smaller needle, CO 12 sts.

Row 1: Purl.

Row 2: Knit.

Row 3: Purl.

Row 4: K1, [M1R, k1, M1L, k2] x 3, M1R, k1, M1L, k1 – 20 sts.

Work 5 rows in St st.

Row 10: K1, M1L, k1, [M1R, k1, M1L, k4] x 3, M1R, k1, M1L, k1, M1L, k1 – 30 sts.

Work 5 rows in St st.

Row 16: K1, M1L, k3, [M1R, k1, M1L, k6] x 3, M1R, k1, M1L, k3, M1L, k1 – 40 sts.

Work in St until shell meas 4.25″ from beginning, or 2″ less than desired height of shell.

Short Row Shaping:girly knits knitted mermaid and ursula

Row 1: Knit to last 3 sts, W&T.

Row 2: Purl to last 3 sts, W&T.

Row 3: Knit to 3 sts before last wrap, W&T.

Row 4: Purl to 3 sts before last wrap, W&T.

Rep Rows 3&4 until you have worked 6 wraps on each side and there are 4 sts left in the middle.

Next Row (RS): Knit to end, working wraps with respective sts.

Next Row (WS): Purl, working wraps with respective sts.

Work 3 rows in St st.

Change to 2 strands of CC held together and purl.

Scalloped BO:

Note: To “work & BO tucked st” do the following: Let next st on your LH needle drop until 4 bars are exposed.  Place RH needle through dropped st from front to back, and wrap working yarn around needle and pull through st.  Place st on RH needle and bind it off tightly.

2nd Note: If you altered the amount of Inc Rows, you want the tucked sts on the BO row to fall in line with the stitch column that goes between the increases.  This is so that when you do the duplicate stitch seams, they will line up with the dips of the scalloped BO.

BO 5 very loosely, work & BO tucked st, [BO 8 very loosely, work & BO tucked st] x  3, BO very loosely to end.


Using 2 strands of CC held together and crochet hook and starting at bottom of shell, create seams on shell by duplicating knit columns that fall between increases.  These columns should align with the tucked stitches on the BO edge. When you reach tucked stitch at top, place loop over bound off st, break yarn, and pull through loop tightly to emphasize scallop.

Weave in all ends.

Using a sewing needle and thread, sew edges of shell to bra cups.  I also hot glued on some small rhinestones on the shells for extra sparkle!  I used a nude strapless bra with the straps attached, and glued rhinestones all along the wings and straps, and added a sparkly starfish to the center 🙂

girly knits knitted shell mermaid bra

Knitted Merman Costume

girly knits knitted merman costume

Okay, so this isn’t much of a costume, it’s more of a loin cloth with a shell on it, and an added crown because you know, why not!  I’m not sure what other man besides Ken would be willing to rock this get up, but if that happens PLEASE SHARE PHOTOS 😉


The shell is a gorgeous pattern by Dora (Bottheka on Ravelry) that you can find here.  The pattern is free, but you have to contact her for the .pdf.  She was very quick to respond and sent it to me right away!  I used a single strand of the Loops and Threads Payette in Sterling Silver and size US 3 (3.25mm) needles.  It came out to be about 4 x 4″.  I hot glued on some rhinestones for extra sparkle 🙂


I’m obsessed with this crown!  All of my friends were too and now they want crowns for their birthdays 😉  Luckily it was a quick knit!  It was a free pattern I found on Ravelry called “A Very Regal Crown” by Kayleigh aka marbles24 on Ravelry.  I used a stash yarn that I had that is a light glittery gold and I believe sport weight (the labels are long gone!)  I held the yarn double (so it would be extra sturdy) with a US 7 circular needle as suggested.  I then glued on a large rhinestone at each crest and it turned out super cute!

Loin Cloth:

girly knits knitted merman costume detail

The loin cloth is a one size fits most thing – the side ties make it easy to custom fit!  The finished loin cloth came out to about 10 x 10″, and the font and back are exactly the same.


Needles: US 8 (5mm) straight needles, US I/9 (5.5mm) crochet hook (for side ties only)

.1 Hanks (30 yards) of Knit Picks Preciosa in Crest

Gauge: 15 sts and 22 rows = 4″ in Mesh Stitch Pattern

Directions (make 2):

CO 38 sts.

Knit 5 rows.lauren and ken girly knits knitted mermaid and merman costumes


Row 1: K1, *yo, k2tog; rep from * to last st, k1.

Row 2: Purl.

Row 3: K2, *yo, k2tog; rep from * to end.

Row 4: Purl.

Rep Rows 1-4 until mesh portion measures 3″, ending with Row 2.

Next Row: Ssk, *yo, k2tog; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2tog (make sure to end with k2tog x 2 – don’t put another yo before the last k2tog or you won’t get the intended decrease there!)

Next Row: Purl.

Rep last 2 rows until there are 4 sts left.

Last Row (RS): Ssk, k2tog, BO last st and pull yarn through loop.


Measure out 48″ yarn (or longer if you want longer ties) and fold in half.  Starting at either top corner of loin cloth, place crochet hook through loin cloth and pull center of yarn through so you’ll be crocheting the yarn double ply.  Work in chain stitch until yarn runs out, then pull yarn through last loop.  Repeat for other side.

Place shell on center front of loin cloth. Using a sewing needle and thread, attach shell to loincloth, catching stitches along the edge of on the back side of shell so that thread is not visible.  Tie sides and enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed these patterns, and if you would like to check out more of my knitting patterns click here!  If you make any of the above, please share your photos on the Raverly page! 🙂

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