How-To: Butterfly Wings for Costume or Dress-Up | Staff Blog

How-To: Butterfly Wings for Costume or Dress-Up


(See a video of how to make this project here.)


It’s easy to make fabulous butterfly wings using netting, sparkly fabric, and your serger.


While our wings are made to be worn with any outfit, if you’re using these wings for a costume, you could stitch them directly to a t-shirt or sweatshirt down the center back from neckline to waistline.


What you’ll need (for child up to approx. 4 feet tall):

  • 2-1/2 yards 58″-wide polyester organza with glittered accents
  • 2-1/2 yards 54-72″-wide nylon netting, color to match organza
  • 12-20″ matching soft elastic for wristbands
  • 48″ (or longer) ribbon for waist tie
  • T-shirt or sweatshirt (to use as pattern guide)
  • Serger


Make the Wings:

1. Make the pattern using a T-shirt or sweatshirt that fits. Referring to the diagram and folding the fabric in half as shown, mark the wing outline on one layer of organza. Cut out wings on marked line.

2. Using the cut organza wings as a pattern, cut one more wing pair from organza and two wing pairs from netting.


3. Unfold and layer all four wing pairs, having the right side of the organza pieces facing outward and the two layers of netting sandwiched between. Pin at least 1″ from the edges, then serge along the outer edges of the wings. We used a serger for this project because it finishes the edges so nicely, keeping the organza from raveling, and it trims the layers even.


4. Cut two pieces of elastic 1″ longer than the wrist measurement (elastic should be slightly stretched but not snug or tight around wrists when ends are overlapped 1″). Sew overlapped edges to highest edge of wings—this will be the point that you marked 6″ up from cuff of shirt.


5. Using waistline of shirt as a guide, place ribbon at waistline, tacking through all layers to secure a few inches away from center of back.


Doing the Math for Other Sizes:

If the set of wings is being made for someone TALLER than 4 foot tall, the width of the fabric (58″) may not be wide enough for their wingspan. To figure the yardage you’d need, take armspan measurement, wrist-to-wrist, and add 12. Double that measurement so you can cut two wing pieces (front and back or two inside layers of netting). Divide by 36 for yardage needed.


If you didn’t take time to measure your armspan before you went to the store, your armspan is usually equal to your height. Now, for those of you who aren’t “mathy”, I’ll give you the inches.


If you are 5 feet 6 inches:

5 feet 6 inches = 66″.

66″ times 2 is 132″.

132″ divided by 36 (to convert inches to yards) equals 3.67 yards (3-2/3).


Measure wrist and add 1″ for each wristband–double that for the amount of elastic needed.

Measure waist and add enough for tying for the ribbon.


*These wings are based on a design by Heidi Boyd originally featured in Halloween Tricks & Treats 2008 ©Meredith Corp.

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