Note: These instructions are only for the Butterfree Wings, not my whole costume pictured at the end. These cape wings are really handy for conventions, where rigid wings get bumped, bent and broken all the time.
Step 1: Material and Tools
Firstly you will need:
- White fabric (I used Polyester 80%, Cotton 20%), at least 2.5 metres x 1.5 metres
- Bottle of Fray Stopper (of similar product that stops fabric fraying
- Black Ribbon (10mm and 25mm widths)
- Black permanent markers (At least a couple of 'jumbo' ones, and at least 1 with a fine point, I recommend sharpie). Don't use CD markers or fabric markers. I tested these out and they didn't work with my technique.
- 2.5 metres of High gauge fencing wire, preferably 2.5mm or thicker.
- Black thread and needle
- Sewing machine.
- A pencil for sketching
- 'Clean' drop sheet (no debris or anything that could rip or stain the fabric)
- A lighter (to singe the cut ribbons)
- A pair of pliers
Step 2: Sketching the Wing Design
It is really important you take your time with this and get a picture that you can refer to.
These measurements are close estimates and there is a bit of free-hand drawing. A lot of your sketch lines are likely to either get cut off or covered by black marker, so don't worry too much about mistakes.
Obviously you are best to smooth out your fabric on a nice open space. Make sure to at least vacuum the area first to reduce stuff sticking, marking or staining your nice white fabric.
The following the measurements are what I used (I've included in brackets some scaling tips if you want differently sized wings) I've also included the picture of the finished product with notes of where all the measurements are.
- Your 'Core' measurement is the how long you want it to hang down from your neck. Measure this on whomever is going to wear it. You don't want people stepping on it or tripping.
- My Core measurement is 117cm
- Full Wing Length (tip to tip) - 234cm (double the Core)
- Maximum Wing Width - 117cm (same as the Core).
- Length of spine - 56.6cm (1/4 of the Core)
- Distance from top to the thick line for the bottom wing section - 78.3cm (roughly 2/3 of the Core)
- Distance from the spine (if extended) to the where the join line meets the outer edge - 69.5cm (60% of the Core)
- The rest of the measurements are just guesses and experimental, I've included some on the picture, but as you make it yourself you have to decide what looks good for you.
The most important thing to remember is the wings are to be symmetrical. So when you draw the outline and the interior curved lines follow these steps
- Get a line you are happy with on one side.
- Measure from various points along it to the centre line (Spine), keeping perpendicular to the spine.
- Transfer the measurement across to the other side of the spine and make a dot.
- Do this several times, depending on the length of the line.
- Join the dots, mirroring the curve as best you can.
Don't be afraid to fix and redraw a little and remember to draw lightly. Especially in the open areas that aren't getting filled in later.
Once you have the base outline and wing veins drawn, add in the curved lines for the black borders.
Step 3: Fray Stopper Outline
Once you have your outline and sketch you have to cover all the lines with Fray Stopper.
From the example picture I have provided, it shows that the Fray Stopper, once dry, stops the ink from bleeding allowing you to do the fine lines you need for the veins and the edges of the filled in sections.
Make sure you put the drop sheet under your fabric before starting as you won't want this stuff getting into your carpet. Tiles or wooden flooring will be fine, but you'll want to mop them afterwards.
You won't need to fill the filled in sections fray stopper, just trace their edge, as the bleeding is helpful for filling in.
Don't worry too much of over using it, the 'wet' mark it leaves is better that the bleeding stain from the pens.
Step 4: Inking
Once you have left it to dry, takes about half an hour, you are ready to ink.
Obviously use the jumbo pens to fill in the large sections of black, but use the finer point ones for the edges so you get nice smooth lines.
For the veins, try and do as long a continuous line as you can along your sketched line. If you stop try to continue the line as best you can with making the break apparent. There is an art to it that takes practice.
Double-check you got all your lines and filled in all the areas heavily enough. Then flip the whole thing. The other side will have significant bleed through that will help you ink this side (Second picture shows the bleed through). This will be a little easier, because of the bleed and you should be feeling more practised with the line drawing.
Once you are happy with the level of detail move on to the holder for the wire
Step 5: Attaching the Ribbon Tube.
First get four strips of 25mm ribbon. You will want them longer than the 'Core' length discussed earlier. My Core length was 117cm so I made these 120cm.
Make sure that when you cut ribbon you singe the end with a lighter to prevent fraying.
Firstly get two ribbons, fold over the ends (inward to each other) and and pin them together along their length.
Sew (with sewing machine) the two ribbon together along their top edge. Stop about 10cm short of the full length.
Repeat with the other two ribbons.
Now sandwich your wings' top edge with the ribbons' bottom edges, from the top point of the spine out to the curve that leads to the wing tip. Sew them together, keeping as close to the edge as you can manage on both the ribbon and wings. This should start from the middle and lead out to the curve that leads to the wing tip. Now you should have a ribbon tube on top of the wing.
Repeat with the other ribbon, along the other wing side.
Fold the end over (trimming so that you can tuck it back), at a 45 degree angle to match with the your inked wing border. Then hand stitch it together to seal the end. Repeat this on the other end.
Once you have finished stitching, run one last lot of fray stopper around the edge, leave dry and cut out your wings.
Step 6: Inserting the Wire and Finishing
Cut the wire into two pieces, a little half your Core length, (mine were just under 55cm).
Use the pliers to put a tight curl in each end of the two wires. This will stop them from eventually stabbing through the stitching or fabric.
Slide one into each ribbon tube and make sure they reach the very end.
Hand-stitch to seal the ribbon just after the wire to ensure it can't move anywhere.
Now cut off a length of 10mm ribbon and hand stitch to the top middle as a neck tie. Make sure to stitch securely as it will need to carry the full weight of the wings.
Step 7: Have Fun
Now wear, and take lots of photos of you spreading your wings, or wrapping them around you