The {Paper} Butterfly Costume




About: I'm a mom of two boys, an adorable girl, and have a handsome hubby to boot.

I came across a beautiful butterfly costume image, and this is my attempt to recreate it. Using tissue paper, egg cartons and cardboard, I hope this helps anyone that is looking for low budget costume inspiration. If I can wing it, so can you ;)



  • 3 sheets blue tissue paper
  • 2 sheets black tissue paper
  • 12 gage floral wire (5 yards)*
  • 26 gage floral wire
  • wooden clothespin or wooden dowel


  • Egg cartons from a 5 dozen case at Costco
  • green floral tape
  • 2 sheets purple felt and fiberfill
  • Black fabric strips
  • cardboard

Glue gun, electrical tape, wire cutters, black washable marker, mod podge or glue, white paint, and masking tape.

*see note in the following step

Fits age 3

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Step 1: Framing the Wings

Wings are roughly 26" tall by 13" wide.

  • Using 12 gage floral wire*, bend to shape the wings. MAKE SURE to start with 2 inches of extra wire for each wing so you can twist the two wings together. Use floral tape to bind the wire together.

Optional: Wrap the frame in masking tape before you add the veins to the wings. This will help the tissue paper stick better to the frame.

  • Make veins within the wing with skinny floral wire and floral tape.

*After using the costume all night, I found the 12 gage floral wire was great, but it was also pretty bendable. If it bumped something I would just straighten it out, but I think if I used jewelry wire (instead of floral wire), or perhaps a different gage, it would have helped with that a little. When you get the wire, you could just test that it is a good strength and that it doesn't bend too easy for your taste. The wire I bought was the Ashland brand called "decorative wire" found in the floral section at Michael's.

Step 2: Adding Tissue Paper and Color to Wings

    The texture of the wings are made with crinkle tissue paper glued to the metal frame.

    • Crinkle the blue tissue paper. Lay flat.
    • Sandwich the frames between pieces of blue tissue paper. Open the layers.
    • Mixing a little water with mod podge, brush the glue mixture on to the wing.
    • Lay the top layer of tissue paper over the wire, and push down. Add a little more glue mixture to any parts that are not wet.

    Dry your wings and trim off excess blue paper, then take a gray washable marker and lightly draw over the veins to make them more visible.

    Black and White Details

    Cut two pieces of black tissue paper at a time so they line up when sandwiching them together. After adding them on like the blue tissue paper, dry and then paint on white details with white paint.

    Step 3: Connecting the Wings

    Use a wooden clothespin (or dowel with a slit) and some cardboard to hold the wings together.

    • Paint the clothespin black (not shown).
    • Thread the extra wire from each wing through the slit of a wooden clothespin and wrap the excess wire around the wood.
    • Cut a small rectangle piece out of cardboard to stable the wings and create an angle. Cut the piece so the corrugated lines are horizontal when the piece is placed horizontally, so it has a little resistance. Cover the cardboard piece in paint or black duct tape. Thread the piece through the slit, under the wires. Bend the sides of the cardboard to the angle you want your wings to sit, and glue the cardboard sides to the dried wings. Glue along the two sides of the clothespin that touch the cardboard.

    The wings are attached to the costume by using the strips of fabric from the chest piece to hold it in place.

    Step 4: Butterfly Head

      The butterfly head is made from cardboard strips, some felt eyes, wire antennas and cardboard for the tongue or proboscis.


      • Create the head by measuring cardboard strips and putting together with masking tape. Cover the bottom cardboard piece with masking tape to make it more comfortable.
      • After the antennas are added, wrap them in black electrical tape.
      • Rip pieces of egg carton and glue around the head.


      Eyes can be created by making two large oval shapes, one being slightly large so you can add fiberfill to it. Hot glue the pieces together, then to the hat.


      The tongue is made from a strip of cardboard that I bent. Wrap it in green floral tape then glue to connect.

      Step 5: Chest Piece

      The chest piece is made from a piece of cardboard, egg cartons, and three long pieces of black fabric for ties (one piece used for the waist).

      • Cut holes in each corner of the chest piece and add the black fabric, before gluing on the egg carton pieces.
      • Layer the egg cartons pieces as you go.

      The wings are held on to the costume by wrapping a long piece of fabric from the top of the chest piece over the shoulder, over the clothespin area, then tying it with the other long piece. Tie the waist ribbon around the waist. Use a black leotard and black tights for the body.

      Papercraft Contest 2015

      Second Prize in the
      Papercraft Contest 2015

      Halloween Costume Contest 2015

      Participated in the
      Halloween Costume Contest 2015



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        16 Discussions

        That Redhead

        3 years ago

        Love love love love love love!!!


        3 years ago

        Oh my gosh, could she be any more dumpley??? Love, love, love the beautiful wings, and the simple mechanism for keeping them upright. Did they sag or slide later? I always have that trouble with wings. And the head/hat is gorgeous! Realistic enough not to be cartoony but still super cute. And all made out of materials that cost nothing or next to it. I am soooo impressed. I will look for an excuse to make this some day.

        1 reply

        Reply 3 years ago

        Hey thanks!! The wings did great and stayed in place! I'd just check, after tying it in place, that one side isn't tied tighter to the body compared to the other side. That way the wings are centered well.

        I also noticed, as she wore the costume, that the floral wire I used for the wings was pretty bendable. If she bumped something I would just straighten it out, but I think if I used jewelry wire (instead of floral wire), or perhaps a different gage, it would have helped with that a little. When you get the wire, you could just test that it is a good strength and that it doesn't bend too easy. I'll make a note in the instructions about that as well. Again, thanks so much!

        Penolopy Bulnick

        3 years ago

        That is the happiest and cutest little butterfly I've ever seen :) Wonderful job!

        1 reply

        3 years ago

        This is so cute! I love the creative use of cardboard and egg cartons to make the hat and chest pieces. Nice job!

        1 reply