How to Make a Twirling Paper Butterfly




About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.
I saw this here:, on Pintrest.  The idea was wonderful, it reminded me of my Dad’s favorite April fool’s joke. He called it Rattle Snake Eggs.  I’ll have to do that one some time.  Anyway, it looked fun, but it seemed to have some problems that made me think that it just wouldn’t work well.  I make the changes I thought I would need and I created the paper wings on my computer using my Sure Cuts A Lot program and my Cricut Expression.  This is lots of fun.  It is meant to be put in a card and when you open the card, the butterfly will come flapping out.  Let’s go.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1:

2, size 2 paper clips
Needle nose pliers
Tape measure or ruler (not shown)
Transparent tape
Mini black rubber bands (the silicon type for hair)
Card stock (your choice of color)
Black marker
Personal electronic cutter (Mine is a Cricut from Provo Craft)
Sure Cuts A Lot Program (I should inform you that Provo Craft and Sure Cuts A Lot had a court battle and SCAL lost, so it you have a Cricut, you can no longer buy SCAL, yet they do create programs for other brands of personal electronic cutters.  I bought mine long before the court battle so I am okay.)

Step 2:

Unfold the paper clips and make them as straight as you can.  Cut one 5½” long and the other 4 inches long.

Step 3:

Lower wings frame:  Take the longer one and at the very center of the wire, wrap both ends around the pliers, making a circle. 

Step 4:

With the pliers bend the two legs down, perpendicular to the circle. 

Step 5:

Make little s curves in the end of each wire.

Step 6:

Upper wings frame: Take the shorter one and again bend the very center of the wire into the circle, but don’t make it a closed circle.  Leave a tiny opening at the place where the wire meets itself.  Spread the two legs out for the top wings.

Step 7:

Take 2 of the largest black rubber bands

Step 8:

and first hook then into the circle of the upper wings frame. Then feed the rubber bands and the circle they are hooked to through the circle in the lower wing frame.

Step 9:

Hook the opposite ends of the rubber bands into the s curves of the lower part of the frame. 

Step 10:

Twist the upper wing frame to tighten up the rubber bands.  After about 20 turns, let go.  The upper wing frame should unwind.  Adjust as you need to, to make sure everything will move freely.

Step 11:

How take a minute and make the paper wings.  You need two upper and two lower.  I opened my Sure Cuts A Lot program and I over laid shapes, a rounded triangle and  2 ovals and then welded them together for the upper wings. I made the two wings symmetrical.   The lower wings were created using 2 rounded triangles and again I welded them together.  The first set of wings where too large.  So I went back and made them smaller, by selecting all of the wings and just dragging a corner of the box until they were the size I wanted.  Here is a pdf of the wings if you want them.

Step 12:

I then turned on my Cricut Expression and I cut the wings out of some card stock that I have.  I love my Cricut.  Did I tell you that?  What an easy way to make the wings. 

Step 13:

Take the marker and put line along the edges and vine lines on the paper wings.  Look at pictures of butterflies to get ideas.  (It looks like I missed one, crap.)

Step 14:

Lay down the butterfly frame and place the wings where they will need to go. 

Step 15:

Tear off a 1” piece of tape and tape the wing to the piece of wire they are closest to. Tape the upper wings to the underside of the upper frame

Step 16:

and lower wings to the lower frame.

Step 17:

Pick up the butterfly and twist the upper wing around, about 20 times, let go.  It would unwind smoothly, but a little slower because the wings are heavier.

Step 18:

Rewind the butterfly and put it in a card. 

Step 19:

Shut the card.  When someone opens the card the butterfly should flap around, when it is picked up, it will totally unwound.   Enjoy!
Make It Real Challenge

Participated in the
Make It Real Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Fashion Contest

      Fashion Contest
    • Reuse Contest

      Reuse Contest
    • Hot Glue Speed Challenge

      Hot Glue Speed Challenge

    10 Discussions


    4 years ago

    I made the butterfly but it doesn't fly well. It goes down, sorts a free fall. What can I be doing wrong?

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    It doesn't actually fly. It just flaps around. Try winding the rubber band tighter. Good luck.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, I allready try that but it didn't work either. I saw a video of the real butterfly, and when you put it inside a card and you open it the butterfly flies up. I thought this would do the same


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love the way you help people make their own flyer. As a home school family we made some as a class project. It was fun. For those of you who do not have the time or ability to make your own, you can buy a butterflyer for a couple bucks at They have a wide variety of different designs and models for every occasion (birthday, parties, Christmas, etc.)

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is such a great idea! I want to try making one. Could you post a pdf of the pattern that worked since it seems like the sizes of the wings are a critical factor. Thanks so much for posting this!

    3 replies

    Thank you so much for going to the work to make this! Now I'm ready to try it out. Good luck in the contest!

    My SCAL program does not play well with other programs. It just won't copy and paste to other programs, and it won't save it to another format. So as soon as I can find a little time, I will recreate them in a program which will save pdf, and then I will post it here. I spent 2 hours trying it the other way and no luck. I will let you know when I get it done. Thanks for looking.