Mermaid Top Review 8: DIY Lion’s Paw Real Shell Top

Top #8 DIY Lion’s Paw Real Shell Top

Shells and rhinestones attached to bra base by me.

Price:

Lions Paw shells from Amazon. 5-5 1/2 inches. *Cost around $12 for both shells.

Bra base from Amazon. *I bought a Warners Woman’s Easy Does It Wire Free Bra (super comfy!) for around $15.

Shells, rhinestone, flatback pearls from Michaels.

Production Time:

  • This was my first mermaid top that I made while waiting for my MerNation silicone tail to be made.
  • It took a few days of continuous work to make. Then another day or two to fix after my first swim.

How to/DIY:

I attached the shells to the top with e6000 glue. Use in a well ventilated area as this glue is harmful when the fumes are inhaled. I had a mannequin that I put the bra on then glued the shells in place and set a ziplock bag filled with water on top to weigh it down and hold the shell in place while the glue dried. I did one shell at a time over 2 days.

Then I added flat back pearls and rhinestones on the shells and on the top. I used a few different tops I’d found on Pinterest as inspiration. The rhinestones were cheap plastic from Michael’s and the e6000 melted the backing off of them so I used GemTac to attach them to the bra. For pearls and shells I used e6000. The easiest way to attach the rhinestones is to put the glue into syringes and make dots of glue then either pick up the gems with a tweezers or a wax tip jewel setter.

Quality/Durability:

I wore this top for a day-long photoshoot in the Flordia Springs. The shells are securely attached to the top but after swimming in the water for several hours the Gemtac on the rhinestones loosened and when I was taking off my top I noticed a lot of the rhinestones were loose and could be peeled off. They did not come off in the water and the ones I didn’t pull off dried securely on again. The jewels that were attached with e6000 stayed on and didn’t budge.

Afterwards, I gathered up the rhinestones that had come off and reassessed the top. I used e6000 to put more shells around the top and put some of the rhinestones back on.

Now this top is used ONLY for dry events. The rhinestones still sometimes fall off just due to the age of the top.

Fit/Comfort:

I choose a full coverage bra that I knew fit me. This top is very comfortable and fits very well. The shells are a bit heavy so that’s something to concider when choosing a bra base.

The Lions Paw shells do come a bit below the bottom edge of the bra and dig into my skin. I’ve been meaning to take my dremmel and sand down the edges so it is more comfortable.

Upkeep:

The rhinestones do periodically fall off and require upkeep. I keep a sandwich size ziplock bag with me and put the fallen soldiers in it when I can and use e6000 to reattach as needed

Pros:

  • Satisfaction of making your own top
  • Customized to exactly what you want
  • Cost efficient

Cons:

  • Time consuming to make
  • Real lion Paw shells are very heavy
  • Rhinestones fall off easily when applied with GemTac

Lessons learned:

  • E6000 works great to attach large shells to a bra.
  • E6000 needs to be used in a well ventilated area. Be careful not to breath in the fumes
  • Gemtac is only good for tops not worn in water. They start to become unglued after a few hours of being submerged in water.
  • E6000 can distort the foil backing on cheap rhinestones.

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