Mermaid Top Review Series: MerNation Silicone Scale top


For those of you who follow my blog for the aerial equipment info…I’m taking a bit of a side track and highjacking my blog for my Mermaid fans. I’ve developed a bit of a Mermaid Top collection (it’s really an obsession, at this point). I have tops from several big Mermaid brands (& some from lesser known designers). They range quite a bit in price and quality. In my reviews I’ll give insight into some of things I wish I knew before I purchased them.

Top #1 MerNation Silicone Scale Top

Custom made to match my full silicone MerNation mermaid tail.

This was my first silicone mermaid top. It was purchased from MerNation at the time I ordered a full silicone mermaid tail (2017). It has a an “add on” feature of a light gold decorative filigree on the top and on the straps. It also has a glitter top coat.


Starts at $275 (pricing as of Mar 2018). I actually can’t remember what I paid for this top as it was included in my total Tail price.

(I also ordered a silicone waist/gap wrap…which was the BEST mermaid purchase I’ve made so far. Ask me why & maybe I’ll do a review on it too.)

Production Time:

  • First meeting/placed order 3/6/17
  • Paid 3/11/17
  • Update from MerNation with photo of painting 4/3/17
  • Complete & picked it up 4/6/17

Customer Service:

When I was at MerNation’s business to get measured for my tail, Erin gave me several plain bra tops to try on. I believe they were a few different brands (I know one was a Victoria’s Secret). I vaguely remember picking one but saying I needed at 36 (not a 34) for the chest size. I can’t remember if this was written down or not.

MerNation kept me posted every part of the way with text messages and pictures. This is a photo Erin sent to show where they were at after they finished painting but before they attached the filigree.


The top is built with a plain bra top as the base. The silicone is thick and sturdy. The scales match my silicone tail exactly. They are about the same thickness as my tail. The filigree is thick and attached very strong.

The one place that may eventually have issues are the straps. They are more stretchy than the rest of the top therefore may wear out faster. So far I have had no quality issues with them at the one year mark.

I like this top mostly for my more “professional” gigs as it’s one of my more expensive tops. I want to keep it in the best shape possible. I’ve wore it for several underwater photoshoots but just once at a pool party and once at a Mermaid Florida Springs meet up.



I’m usually a 36/38 B. The cup shape is amazing and it gives me a perfect amount of cleavage without the risk of “spilling out.” It is slightly padded & a bit of a push-up. I feel like it gives me adequate coverage for it to be one of my more conservative tops. I’m very comfortable doing underwater acrobatics with it without being afraid of inadvertently flashing anyone.

It is VERY tight on me & it takes a few minutes for me to put it on without help. (Silicone sticks so clasping it in the front and sliding it around the body can be a humorous dilemma.) I did purchase a bra extender to make it fit better and now (although still tight) is just snug and not constricting. I still don’t want to wear this top for long periods of time because it doesn’t fit me just right. (Maybe if I loose some weight it will fit better…actually I’m sure it would…)

When my hair has been down, it has gotten tangled in the straps . It made for some awkward underwater modeling experiences. The photographer said he couldn’t tell but for me it felt really weird. I ended up taking the straps off to finish the shoot. Then in more recent events wearing the top, I’ve pulled my hair back and not had any issues.

First time wearing it and couldn’t get it hooked correctly because it was too tight.


  • Matches my MerNation tail perfectly
  • Colors are amazing
  • Superb, unique artistic workmanship
  • High quality, thick silicone
  • Very professional looking


  • It’s too tight. I had to put a bra extender on it. It can get uncomfortable (because it’s tight) after wearing it for a long time.
  • Long hair sometimes gets tangled and stuck to the silicone filigree on the straps.
  • The flaps in the back look sort of odd. I’d like to figure out how to tack them down in place.

Lessons learned:

Silicone once attached to a bra does not have much stretch. If you are a 36B and wear the bra on the last hook and it’s at its maximum stretch….the silicone top will be VERY tight.

Bra extensions are your best friend. They are cheap (you can get them off Amazon). They come in several colors and can give added inches in comfortability.

* The last 4 photos are of the top after I have had it for over a year.


DYI Mermaid Tail Stands

DIY Instructions:
Mermaid Tail Stand

* This is what worked for me. I do not know how it will work with your tail as they are all different. Measure and make your own changes as needed. So far my tails have been fine on the stand but I do not know how they will hold if displayed long term. For now I am using these stands to dry my silicone/silicone hybrid tails after swimming in them.

Made out of wood and steel.


Step 1: Measure for the height of the stand. I measured from the foot pockets to the waist of my tails. Mine were around 4 feet. Initially I thought we could use a 3 foot (36″) piece (with the fork on top of that) but I forgot to factor in space needed to allow for air flow or a fan under the tail. So for me the 4 foot (48″) pipe worked best for me. To make it taller you could go to a 5 foot pipe but it will make the stand less stable.

Step 2: Measure the length of the foot pockets. Mine are about 9-10″ long. So the fork needed to be around that size. Initially I was trying for about a 12″ fork. But these are my final numbers that work are: Stand 1’s fork is 10″ & Stand 2’s fork is 9″ without padding.

Step 3: Measure the width of the foot pockets. Mertailor tail is wider at 9″ and MerNation tail is a lot more narrow at 6.5″. This made me have to have 2 different size forks (you can probably find a universal size that will work for several tails wanted 2 stands).


  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Pipe wrench (you don’t really need this but it is helpful if you really have to screw the fork tight to make it fit in your foot pockets or to un-screw the pipe if you make it too tight)
  • Cleaner/Acetone to remove pipe grease
  • Painting supplies: foam brush, paint brush, gloves, drop cloth, etc.
  • Wood stain & polyurethane sealant
  • Clear coat spray paint



All the parts were purchased at Home Depot (Tampa, FL Jan 2018).

First Stand:
made for my Mertailor Spellbound Tail
(34 lbs, heavy fluke)

Since this tail is a bit heavier and more heavy in the fluke area with wider foot pockets I decided to go a bit beefier. I went with 3/4″ pipe and regular elbow pipes. I up-sized the floor flange to a 1″ because it has a wider footprint and it will be more stable on the base.


  • 1 Pine round 1″ x 23 3/4″ $10.35
  • 1 Galvanized steel pipe 3/4″ 48″ $16.38
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ x close nipple $1.68 each / $3.36
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ x 8″ nipple $5.33 each / $10.66
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ elbow $2.94 each / $5.88
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ cap $2.97 each / $5.94
  • 1 Galvanized steel 3/4 Tee $3.70
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ to 3/4″ Bushing $4.26
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ Floor Flange $13.20
  • Zinc sheet metal screws 14×1 (4 pack) $1.18

Total cost: $74.91 plus tax

Second Stand:
made for my MerNation Signature full silicone tail
(25 lbs, heavy body)

This tail is very narrow at the foot pockets. I had to downsize to 1/2″ pipe & use the “street” elbows that screw directly into the Tee. I couldn’t find a up-sizing (bushing) piece to go from 1/2″ to 1″. The 1/2″ Flange seemed very small to me but I compromised by using the 3/4″ Flange. It seems to be stable enough to hold up the lighter tail. I also couldn’t put metal caps on the top of the stand (they got caught on the silicone & didn’t fit very nice) so I used some plastic caps that were on the long pipe at Home Depot as a cap to keep the edges of the metal pipe from digging into the silicone while sliding the tail on the stand. Later I put padding over them.


  • 1 Pine round 1″ x 23 3/4″ $10.35
  • 1 Galvanized steel pipe 1/2″ 48″ $12.98
  • 2 Galvanized steel 1/2″ x 8″ nipple $4.26 each / $8.52
  • 2 Galvanized steel 1/2″ elbow “90deg street” $2.94 each / $5.88
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1/2″ Tee $2.94
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ to 3/4″ Bushing $3.18
  • 1 Galvanized steel 3/4″ Floor Flange $8.42
  • Zinc sheet metal screws 14×1 (4 pack) $1.18
  • Keep the 2 little red plastic caps that sometimes come on the pipe. (This will help protect the edges of the top of the fork they are free)
  • Something for padding (I used old socks) & tape (I used athletic tape)

Total cost: $53.75


Step 1: Screw the pieces together. See diagrams below.

Step 2: Measure the forks to make sure they will fit in the foot pockets. At this point I folded my tails down and carefully slid the forks into the tails to see if it fit. I needed to screw the elbows into the Tee on the First Stand a lot more than I thought I would. This was difficult and took a lot of muscle. (Just be prepared to put some elbow grease and leverage into it. My Fiancé brought me his pipe wrench to help.)

Step 3: Find the center of the wood base (use your measuring tape). Screw the Flange into the wood base using a drill. Screw the Bushing into the Flange.

Note: Now you have 2 pieces: the fork (It kinda looks like a Triton) & the base. You can store it separately like this when not in use.

Step 4: Screw the fork into the base.

Step 5: Add padding to the top of the fork.

I only did this on the Second stand (for my MerNation tail). I thought the 3/4″ caps on the First stand had a nice round surface area that wouldn’t dig into the foot pockets too much (if needed I’ll add padding later). I used 2 old socks and rolled them up so there were several layers covering the top of the stand. Then wrapped them with athletic tape.

NOTE: If you are going to seal the steal pipe with Rust-Oleum, add the padding after the paint is dry.

There are many different options for padding and I’m curious to see what you guys decide to use. My way isn’t likely to be permanent and I’ll probably have to redo it whenever the socks or tape come off.


The wood and steel need to be sealed (especially since water may be dripping from your tail as it dries). The wood may warp or do weird things. Eventually, the steel pipe will rust (it will take many many years…but eventually it will happen).

Step one: Stain wood and seal with polyurethane. Or paint with a water resilient paint.

Optional Step two: Clean the steel with Acetone to remove the grease from the pipes. Seal with a clear coat of paint. I used Rust-Oleum Clear Spray Paint. I didn’t want to use a colored paint because I was worried it would transfer onto my tails.

Final product:

Final thoughts:

When I put my tails onto the stands, I roll/fold them down so I can see the foot pockets. Then I lift (or attempt to lift) them onto the stand. Or you can keep the tail on a table with it folded over and lean the stand into the tail. Once you see the fork is in the foot pockets than lift the tail and stand upright. Be very careful with your tails so you’re not allowing the stand to poke into the silicone bodies and potentially making holes or weak points.

Note: My MerNation tail had been dry for almost a week (or so I thought)…Then when I put it onto the stand for the first time there was hidden water that had dripped from it. I realized how much I needed a new way to dry my tails. I hope these will help. This is also why you should seal the wood base…to protect from water damage.

There are concerns about monofins cracking or the weight of the silicone body pulling away from the fluke. Remember that each tail is made differently. They are connected differently. They weigh differently. I do not recommend leaving your tail hanging unobserved for too long. Please check for possible damage. I do not know how your tail will react with the long term use on the tail stand.

I would like to hear the good and bad experiences that you’ve had with tail stands. Please leave me a comment.

There are also several options to making tail stands. The above just what I have done. I didn’t come up with the idea on my own. I got the idea from a Pod member who posted a picture of an already made stand. Then I asked my Fiancé to help me make one. These are some of the pictures I used for reference. *Please let me know if these are your designs or pics and I will give you credit (or remove the photos, if you request). A lot of the popular tail stands are made with PVC and maybe a good and less expensive option for you.

Side note: I also attempted to hang my tail on the wall using guitar hooks. It worked well for about 3 months then one day as the tail shifted one of the hooks pulled out of the wall. The tail fell and one of the heel fins tore. Sooo, I decided that wasn’t the best option for me to dry or store my tails.

If you have a tail stand or you build a stand like mine, please send me a photo and/or post on Instagram and tag me (my IG mermaid site is MermaidAerialPrincess). I’d love to see how everyone else is doing it.


Update to Portable Aerial Rig Pulley System

If you are up to date with the rest of my Aerial Equipment blogs – Great! This is an update to the pulley system I use with my Ludwig Portable Aerial Rig. If you are just starting out please go back and read my other posts then come back here when you’re ready for more info about pulley systems.

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource to find the professionals.**

I was contacted by Peter Boulanger, the Artistic & Tech Director of The Underground Circus. I think you can see his comments in the comments section of my blog. I’m going to post his concerns and say that going forward please consider using tandem pulleys opposed to the double pulley in your system. Please read his attached documents and then read our comments from The Underground Circus Facebook post (I’m Amy, if you’re curious.) If you already use the double pulley beware of the rope abraiding while lifting heavy loads. Also keep an eye on the outside safety plates of the pulley for any deformation that may be tell tale signs to take the pulley out of service.

I have not seen this large of a twist in my setup  (I’m not lifting people with my pulleys just the equipment so I don’t see the abrasion of the rope at all) but I do understand that the twist is there and it is putting extreme pressure on the sides of that double pulley that it is not designed for. It would be awful to have something unexpected happen to that pulley in a drop…

Luckily I’ve been playing with different ways to set up pulleys and I have additional pulleys in my arsenal so I can swap out my double pulley without much pain. Ooh, speaking of pain…I did learn a valuable lesson the other day. I DO NOT recommend ever trying to take down the Ludwig rig (from full height) ALL BY YOURSELF. Although, I did get it down to a manageable height so I could swap out the pulleys it was not fun, pretty, or easy. There was a ton of swearing, straining, and a few “OMG what just happened!” moments as the rig started to topple to the side almost crushing into my house. (And that is a major conversation I never want to have with my insurance company bc as you know these rigs are about as coverageable as a trampoline in Florida…use at your own risk). Get someone to help you take that rig down. Learn from my mistake…plus you’re going to need someone’s help to put it back up again anyway.

Additionally, I said above that I’ve been playing with different pulley ideas. This is because I want to be able to use my new Aerial Animals Trapeze as a static trapeze but with the current system it only has one rigging point. Discussing it with my Fiancé he decided to make me a spreader bar with 3 rigging points and we’d use a complicated pulley system to make it work. Well … complicated is rarely the best way to do things and it did not work.

I don’t have many pics of it because I really wasn’t going to write about it…but here it is. The steel spreader bar being painted and getting ready for eyebolts. (The spreader bar is perfect but just not used with the pulley set up that I had in mind.)

I used one rope and 4 single pulleys. I could raise and lower it just using one side of the rope. It looked great.

It seemed to work ok at first if I pulled it up to the top. But it wasn’t real stable and wobbled back and forth and the pulleys would bump each other. Then the final “oh crap, this definitely isn’t going to work” moment was when I put the trapeze up. Even if I used span sets and pulled it to the top the trapeze rocked back and forth (side to side) as I shifted weight from one side to the other. It wasn’t fun…oh it could be worked with as a unique apparatus but it wasn’t at all what I wanted.

Finally, I’ve gone back to the original pulley system (until I change the double out for a tandem set up…). Plus a seperate system for the trapeze: a single pulley for each side. I cut a 100ft rope in half and knotted a loop to attach the trapeze. Then I level each side equally and tie it off on the cleats. So now I have 2 pulley systems on one rig…this only works if you have 5 eyebolts on the top and I have 4 tie off cleats (one on each leg). I choose to tie off the trapeze pulley to the opposite legs of the single-point pulley.

Any questions or comments?

Aerial Equipment Part 6: Portable Aerial Rig *1 Year Outdoor Review

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.**

It has been over a year since I purchased my Ludwig Aerial Rig. I still love it and I’m glad I have it. It has been kept up outdoors the entire time. Recently, I took it down and inspected it, then put it back up. I took photos of how it has weathered over the past year.

Ludwig Rig

Purchased and first installed February 2016.

Complete inspection March 2017.
(I do regular inspections of the legs, tie downs, rope, and climb to the top to visually and physically inspect pulleys and connections on every use.)

My biggest concern was to look for rusting on any of the welds on the rig and to make sure all the screws were tight on all connections on rig.

  • There was NO rust on any of the welds.
  • All screws on the legs pieces were still screwed down. There was one screw on the header leg that was not super tight but it was still secure. All quick connects (the buttons) were in place and secure. The header eye bolts were tight (unmovable) and free of rust.
  • There was some surface rust on the inside of the tube of the header and on parts of the legs that were inside the other pieces of leg. There was not not a huge amount of rust. I will continue to monitor it.
    Note: My Fiancé used some grease on the connection legs to reduce friction and be another barrier to prevent rusting (likely not needed but he wanted to do it).
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One year: Surface rust on the leg beam where it was inside of other beam.


One year: Surface rust on inside of header beam.

  • The area with the most rust were the tie down cleats. These are untreated steel and get wet almost daily from our sprinkler system. I cleaned them with Navel Jelly (soaked them for 15 minutes then scrubbed them off with a green scrubber, did this 4 more times-soaking for 15-25 minute intervals & then scrubbed them before they were clear of the rust.) Then I sprayed them with Rustoleom Clear Primer to slow down future rust.
    Note: I also ordered a brand new set just to have available, if needed. 

Before and after: Tie off cleats.

Soaking cleats in Navel Jelly.

One year: Rust on leg from cleat.

Pulley System

I decided I was going to change out all the hardware on the pulley system when I took down the rig for inspection. I did this for 2 reasons:

  • I was concerned about weathering of the pulleys, carabiner, quicklinks, and rope. The labeling on the carabiner & pulleys say: “For intense use the pulley should be replaced every 12 months, for normal use the pulley should be replaced every 24 months.” I was not intensely using it. (I consider something like zip line use all day long to be intense use. I was only using it to pull aerial equipment up one or twice a week and on the equipment for a few hours at a time.)

    Pulley labeling.

    But I wasn’t completely comfortable with leaving them out in the elements (sun, wind, and rain) all year and not taken them down for cleaning/thorough inspection.
    AND on my regular inspections, I’d noticed that the top carabiner had some rust on it that concerned me…

  • Aesthetic purposes: I found that Fusion Climbing had come out with all black pulleys. I like that look so much more than the Blue/purple/orange pulleys and the price wasn’t much different on Amazon.
    Note: I confirmed with Fusion Climbing that the Amazon “Shop For Lifestyle” fulfillment company was a licensed distributor. Fusion Climbing also sent me additional information about the pulleys so I was able to confirm the packaging & product was legit.)
    Fusion Matte Black Pulley Flier

    I purchased a new all black rope. The old rope had a yellow stripe in it that I didn’t really care for.

I adore having the pulley system because it is so easy to switch out apparatuses and to take down and store equipment. But it is definitely a piece that requires more inspection and maintenance than if I didn’t have it. That is something to consider when putting together a portable aerial rig system.

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One year: Eyebolts, side pulley and quick links.

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One year: Middle eyebolt, carabiner, and double pulley. Note the rust on the carabiner.


One year: Side eyebolt, quick links, and pulley. Note how the top quick link doesn’t look like its all the way tightened.

During my big inspection I was curious to how they weathered. This is what I found:

  • The quick links weathered phenomenally. No rust. No damage. I noticed that one wasn’t fully screwed tight. It was closed and the threads engaged but just not fully tight. See above photo.
  • Pulleys
    • The pulley’s color (blue, purple, orange) had faded from the sun.

      One year: Paint color faded.

      One year: Paint color faded.

    • The spinning mechanism did not stick at all. All of the pulleys moved freely. Only slightly less freely than the brand new pulleys.
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      New and one year old pulley: side by side.

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      New and one year old pulley: side by side.


      The only rust on the pulleys was a small amount on part you clip into where it was being rubbed metal on metal. Other than that the pulleys were very clean after being left up outside all year.

      fullsizerender 47

      One year: Small amount of rust and wear.

    • I cleaned, dried, then lubed/oiled the old pulleys with silicone oil. They now run smooth as ever. I bagged them and will store them for later use.

Silicone oil. Bought off of Amazon.

  • Top carabiner = Rusted.
    • This was the piece I was most worried about. It was the most ugly. I had noticed it getting rusty about 2 months prior to taking down the rig but did not realize it was as bad as it was until it was off and in my hands. The shine had disappeared. There was visible rust. However, the triple locking mechanism worked fine and was not fused shut and it opened and closed fine.
    • I cleaned it up and lubricated it with graphite. Then I did some research. I found that this rusting is called “Surface Oxidation.”  It is a steel carabiner and they are plated finish to prevent this. After time that coating wears off and they do begin to rust. See last paragraph of this link to Fusion’s Carabiner Information.
    • I’m keeping it for minimal use (I.e. I used it when rigging for an underwater photoshoot.). I think it is fine to use but it is kind of ugly so it won’t be used every day.
      Note: I was also informed that I could use clear nail polish to protect it.
    • I initially replaced it in the pulley system with the same type of steel carabiner because that’s what I had on hand. I have now changed my pulley configuration and have a Maillon Rapide Quick Link 10mm to take its place.

      New and one year old carabiner.

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      One year: Wear on carabiner.

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      One year: Rust on carabiner.

      fullsizerender 40

      One year: Wear & rust on carabiner.

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      One year: Carabiner after cleaning and oil.

  • Rope.
    • The old rope is still in excellent shape. There is no deformities, breaks, bends, kinks, or abrasions to the outside sheath.
    • It does feel slightly stiffer than the new rope but I think with a wash it will be back to normal.
    • I did research on climbing ropes. Here is an “How to inspect a climbing rope” guide.
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One year: Rope.

Final Thoughts

First question:

I have heard people ask if they can keep their rig up year-round.

My opinion:

For the Ludwig rig in Florida is YES

  • BUT make sure you are constantly inspecting it for wear, rust, screws that are loosening, etc.
  • Ludwig has also commented that he has kept a rig up year round in Colorado and it has not had issues. If you have more questions, I refer you back to the makers of the rigs. Please read all the info on his website about his rig. Ludwig Rig
  • There is also a lot of information on the Safety in Aerial Group on Facebook. Please join and use the search function to look up questions. (Outdoor, aerial rig, portable, pulley, free standing = these are good places to start.)

Second question:

Can the pulley system be kept up year round?

My opinion:

For my pulley system in Florida is also YES with a few considerations.

  • Think about how much use and weathering the pulleys and the rope are taking. My rig was used only by myself for a few hours once or twice a week (so not that much use). You may want to change out parts or the entire system once a year or do a complete inspection/cleaning of the system and evaluate replacing the system (at least once a year).
  • I feel like with cleaning and lubrication of the pulleys and cleaning of the rope I could continue to use the old system. I have changed out my system for aesthetic reasons not purely because I needed to retire the other system.

Note my shed that holds all my mats and other aerial and circus equipment.






Trial 3 DIY Aerial Costumes: Tie Dye

I’ve figured out that I am a lot better at tie dye than painting. Especially if you have the right tie dye products.

In the past few years I knew I wanted to create more costumes either by painting/embellishing/dyeing,  I bought some white cotton leotards, biketards, and dance shorts from Aliexpress. They were made in China and took over 40 days to be made and arrive. I bought 5 of each and the price added up but they were all under $12-14 each.

NOTE: That when buying from China sizes run VERY small and the arm straps are NOT made for aerialists. Be prepared to make alterations.

I was at CVS and saw a tie-dye kit on sale for about $5. The colors were bright and it had everything included: dye, bottles, rubber bands, instructions and gloves. Tulip One-Step Tie Dye Kits
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I have a new little nephew who lives half a country away. I wanted to make him something personalized from me. I went to Target and bought a 5-pack of white onesies to include in my tie-dye session.

I ended up tie-dyeing 9 items at once. This made things so much easier. It took about 1.5-2 hours to do the actual tie-dyeing. Then I left them to set overnight and rinsed and washed them the next morning (this took about an hour to do).

  • x4 baby onesies
  • x1 large leotard
  • x1 biketard
  • x1 leotard and x1 dance shorts (matching)
  • x1 old tank top (as a tester)
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I did a Pinterest search on different ways to tie-dye. I used a few different methods.

Wet or Dry Method:

I tried both the wet and dry method. Having the fabric wet/damp (I ran them through a quick wash/spin in the washing machine) made applying the dye a lot easier and less messy. The wet fabric soaked up the dye easier and had a more saturated look. The dry fabric the dye would bead up and went everywhere. I had to be slower and wait for the dye to soak into the fabric. The final results with the dry fabric had a lot more white area. The first baby onesie was done dry and the last one was done wet.

This link show several different tie-dye methods.

Spiral Method:

This one is my favorite. I grabbed the fabric in the center and spun it around in a circle and put rubber bands around the entire thing. It makes 6 triangle/pie pieces that you soak with dye. (I later learned that you can use a fork to spin the fabric around…like spaghetti. This might make this easier. I’ll try it next time.) I did the first and last baby onesies with the spiral method.

Heart Method:

I wasn’t as successful at this one. BOO! This was harder than I thought. I also used a permanent marker to draw a heart on the fabric. Next time I probably won’t use permanent marker…Now I on the leotard that has the heart on it I’m going to need to either paint or do something else with it because I don’t really like the random heart… The second baby onesie was done with the heart method. It worked out a bit better than the leotard.

Bulls Eye Method:

This is a tried and true method. It leaves a big circle bulls eye on the fabric.

Stripes Method:

There are so many options on this one. You can use one or many different colors. I love it! I did the third baby onesie with this method.

Wrap up

I think tie-dye is a great inexpensive idea for aerial costumes. Especially for a less formal event.

I’m visualizing an aerial/circus tribe at a festival with everyone having different but cohesive tie-dye costumes. Either in same colors but different methods or different colors but same methods, etc.

Or for a studio Open House or Student Recital that the performers want matching custom costumes but don’t want to spend $$$ on a custom costume.

Or for an aerialist who just wants to jazz up their practice leos… (which is what I’m probably going to use these for)
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Trial 2 DIY Aerial Costumes: Fabric Paint and Rhinestones

This is my second attempt at making an aerial costume. I had a white cotton unitard with wide legs (not tight like I would want for aerial routines) that had been laying around for a few years because it was an “On SALE” mis-order that I couldn’t return. I finally decided to give fabric painting a try.

  1. I started the by sketching a pattern of what I wanted my swirls to look like then I colored them in.
  2. I put the unitard on my inflatable mannequin (bought off ebay $25) and took a pencil and drew outlines of the shapes.
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  3. I put Jacquard Water Based Resist in a Jacquard 1/2 ounce squeeze bottles with stainless steel tips (see below for list of supplies) and outlined my design.
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  4. I used Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow to fill in the design. I put the paint (which looks and feels like fabric dye) in the small 1/2 oz squeeze bottles. I used a very small amount on a paint brush and applied it to the fabric.
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    It spreads very quickly and you need to be very careful that it stays in the lines.
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    NOTE: I should have made my water resist lines thicker because the paint (dye) bled out quite a bit.
  5. I had to “fix” all these areas where the paint bled through. I took white textile paint and touched up the design. You can sort of see the paint but from a distance it looks OK.
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  6. Next, I took Jacquard Textile paint and outlined the design and made some high and low-lights around it.
  7. Then I ironed to set the paint into the fabric.
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  8. Time for some rhinestones. I separated them by color and size.
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    Then I planned out the order that I wanted to attach them and put them into lines.
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  9. Attaching rhinestones is very easy. I watched a few You Tube videos on How to Embellish Dance Costumes. I used E600 and a Jewel Setter (a stick with a bit of wax at the tip. You can get them at Michaels or a craftstore and they help A TON!).
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    Finished product:

I like it. It isn’t professional and I wouldn’t use it for a paid performance but it was a great learning experience. I now know how these paints work on stretchy fabric. I learned about water based resist, dye-na-flow, and other design aspects. It still needs some work but …I like it.

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Supplies I’ve acquired during the past few years.

Fabric paint:

Some I had purchased in 2014. I’m not sure how much I paid for it. The new paint I’ll put purchase prices for reference. Fabric paint isn’t cheap unless you know the exact colors you want. Otherwise it all adds up pretty fast.

Jacquard Textile: For Natural Or Synthetic Fabrics

  • 122 Black. Very thick paint. Used about 6 months ago to paint over the logo on my bouldering crash pad. It covered the bright orange in two coats.
  • 123 White
  • 111Sky Blue
  • 114 Turquoise
  • 155 Fluorescent Blue
  • 151 Fluorescent Yellow: very light, could not be seen very well on white fabric.
  • 153 Fluorescent Pink. (2.25 oz.) Amazon $7.96
  • 156 Fluorescent Green. (2.25 oz.) Amazon $5.72

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Jacquard Lumiere: Light Body Metallic Acrylic

  • 561 Metallic Gold: 2 bottles purchased about 10 years ago for a Wonder Woman costume. One bottle opened and 2/3 empty. The paint was very thick but it still worked fine.
  • 567 Super Sparkle
  • JAC9901 Halo & Jewel Colors Lumiere Exciter Pack, 9 Color (0.5 oz. bottles): Halo Pink Gold; Halo Blue Gold; Halo Violet Gold; Pearlescent Turquoise; Pearlescent Green; Pearlescent Magenta; Russet; Pewter; Sunset Gold. Amazon $9.99

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Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow: Free Flowing Liquid Color For Natural or Synthetic Fabrics

  • 830 White
  • 801 Sun Yellow
  • 824 Azure Blue
  • JAC9908 Dye-Na-Flow Exciter 9-Colors (0.5 oz. bottles): Chartreuse; Turquoise; Periwinkle; Violet; Magenta; Scarlet; Bright Orange; Golden Yellow; Sun Yellow. Amazon $11.65

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Jacquard Water Based Resist

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Other stuff

Tulip Glitter Spray Fabric Paint – 40 oz. Michael’s $7.49 (on sale $5.99) *Looked great when I tried it. It was a sheer glitter but I’ve been told that it doesn’t hold up well when washed.  It was easy to do so maybe this is for that costume that you wear once and then have time to re-spray after washing for the next use.

Tulip Glow in the Dark Spray Fabric Paint – 40 oz Michael’s clearance $2.99

Jewel Spinner with Rhinestones – Michael’s $2.99 (on sale $2.40)


  • Cardboard
  • Water bowl
  • Paint brushes- assorted
  • Foam brush
  • Pencil
  • Scissors – Michael’s Bent 365 $12.99 40% off = $7.79 (to be fabric only scissors)
  • Jacquard 1/2 ounce squeeze bottles with stainless steel tips
  • Bead pick (plastic stick with wax on tip to place rhinestones) – Michael’s $4.99 for 3 (on sale $3.99)
  • Stencils
  • Paint pallet with cover -Michael’s $1.59
  • Mannequin – Inflatable Female EBay

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Trial 1 DIY Aerial Costumes: Fabric Paint, Cutting, & Rhinestones

This blog goes through some trial DIY aerial costumes. The first is just an old tank top that I test painted. The second I had an old unitard I was going to throw away. I re-dyed and cut, painted and rhinestoned to make it special and customized.


I don’t know how to sew and I never had a nack for drawing or painting. Soo…I thought it would be a great endeavor to make myself some aerial costumes. (I don’t know why I always think I can do these crazy things…) I started by brainstorming ways to create…since I cant sew I needed to start with a pre-made base.

I was looking discount leotards, unitards, and biketards (I didn’t know if I was going to be any good at costume making so I wanted to keep it cheap). I did a web search and pinned a bunch of potential items. I tried to keep it “cheap” cotton, white or nude. Here is my Pinterist page.

NOTE: I had been thinking about making a costume a few years ago but never actually got around to doing it. I had 2 cotton white unitards (one has tight legs and the other has wide legs (the wide leg one was a mis-order & not what I wanted for aerial but it will be a good trial piece). I also already had a good base of fabric paints in metalics, blue, yellow, white and black. (And I was slowly buying more and more. I need to stop my visits to Michaels and my late night Amazon shopping binges.)

I’m also creating a list of awesome aerial costume makers/websites because although I am loving costumes that I make myself sometimes you need a professional costume. Please leave a comment if you have other DIY costume ideas or know an awesome aerial makers.

Trial tank top:

First I started by drawing some different ideas out on some paper. I was trying some swirls and other patterns. I have little or no artistic talent when it comes to drawing…but I’m going to see where it goes.

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Then I took an old tank top that I was going to throw away and put some cardboard between the layers and sketched some lines with a pencil. Then started painting.

Meh, not that great but that’s why its an old tank that I was just testing my skills on. It does look better on than on the table…

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Trial Unitard: Old light pink cotton unitard

It was stretched out and faded and has a few holes starting in the leg and crotch. I was going to throw it away but then I stopped and thought it would be a great piece to start with because if I ruined it I wouldn’t feel bad…I’d just have wasted a ton of time. It took me an afternoon to dye, cut, and paint (we went out to dinner while the front was drying and I finished painting the back that evening). Then the next morning I ironed and added rhinestones (which took less than an hour).

Ombre Fabric Dye:

I wanted to refresh the color and I had a package of Dylon Flamingo Pink fabric dye that I had purchased 6 or 7 years ago and never used. This is the video I tried to follow. Ombre fabric dye video.

  1. Wash without using fabric softener.
  2. I put the unitard on and marked it with safety pins where I wanted to gradients to be (chest, hips, knees).
  3. I found a hanger and some ribbon and I used my laundry room cabinets to make “hooks” so I wouldn’t have to hold the unitard all the time.
  4. Then I got the unitard wet and rang it out.
  5. I set up my bucket in the sink. I also set out the dye, salt, measuring spoon, scissors, plastic spoon to stir on the counter.2016-04-02 14.38.55
  6. I heated water up in the microwave in a plastic bowl and dissolved the fabric dye and added the salt.
  7. I made sure the tap water was very hot and started filling my bucket in the sink. Then I added in my fabric dye mixture.
  8. I submerged the unitard up to the waist and kept dipping it from waist to knees for about 20 min.
  9. Then for about 10 min I dipped it from chest to waist.2016-04-02 14.38.22
  10. Then let it sit for about 10 more minutes hanging with just the knees to the bottom in the bucket.2016-04-02 14.39.10
  11. Then I rinsed the unitard until it ran mostly clear.
  12. Then put it through my washer and dryer. 2016-04-02 15.58.38


I’ve seen some instagram posts and a YouTube video by Adam Slacks with a unitard that has been cut up and I really liked that look. I wondered if I could do it myself. I had tried to cut a t-shirt before and it turned out OK…so I decided to give it a try.

I used pins from Pinterest for inspiration:


  1. I put the unitard on and kept the safety pins in to mark body landmarks (chest, hips, knees).
  2. Then I took a pencil and marked where I wanted to make my cuts.
  3. I used a piece of cardboard inside the unitard to help stretch it out and keep shape.
  4. I used a ruler to help keep the lines straight but I ended up eyeballing most of the cut.2016-04-02 17.30.12
  5. As I braided I used the safety pins to hold the final braid in place.
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  6. Then I just used a simple thread and needle and sewed the end of the braids together with knots.
  7. I bought an inflatable dress mannequin from ebay for about $25
  8. I kept it on the mannequin for the painting and rhinestones.
  9. I used a pencil to draw some swirls then painted some silver and pink swirls. With the silver at the top and the pink towards the bottom to keep with the ombre feel.
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  10. Then finally I put some rhinestones on it with the clear crystals at the top and the pink crystals towards the bottom.
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  11. Finally, I put it on and tried it out on my hoop. Fiphone - 24Fiphone - 29

NOTE: Cutting will make the size change sometimes smaller and sometimes larger. The S curve cut/braid really pulled the fabric out of line and it was too small for me. It ripped on my first trial. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed because…well its already cut up. But I suggest a few trial runs before using a cut unitard in a performance to make sure the cuts don’t rip in inappropriate areas.