Tutorial – Easily Customisable Fairy Wings

by Sayraphim on October 28, 2008

Wings are SO simple to make. Some coat hangers, some thread, a bit of material and a couple of hours and you’ll have a brand new set of wings to flutter around with. Check out these two, a Dr Suess inspired red pair and a set of elegant black cocktail wings. They’re both made to this tutorial, from which endless varieties can be created.

You can use any kind of material to make the wings, the best sort is stretchy material, but you can make them from non stretch as well. Material that doesnt fray is the best, so you don’t have to go to the bother of hemming it first.
2 coat hangers
pair of pliers

material for the membrane/skin

a cheap pair of stockings to tie the wings on


needle and thread

First thing is to design the wings you want to build. Do you want feathered angel wings? fairy wings? bug wings? other? What colour and shape do you want? What decorations? You can google fairy wings for some inspiration, or just make them up on the fly.

Draw some shapes on paper. Try to envision the final product. Do you want them decorated or plain? If you want them decorated, with what? Glitter, paint, fake or real flowers or leaves, buttons, bells, feathers… let your imagination run wild.

So after you have a shape you’re happy with on paper, grab one of the coat hangers. Use the pliers to unkink any dints or divots in the wire so you end with a semi-round shape. Then bend it into your preferred shape, using your drawing for reference. Take some time to make it right, it’s always easier to make something right the first time than go back and try to fix it halfway through the process. Once you’re happy with it, straighten out the hook, and then use that wing to create a second the same shape.

I like to twist a little spiral into the end of the wire, to make it look more finished (plus, I like spirals) but you can just bend it back in on itself if you are unkeen on this look, and it’ll be wrapped into the decoration. More on this later.

For wings using stockings for the membrane
Cut across the where the leg starts from the waist. Cut the toes off and cut it in half at the knee. Then slice each one open along the leg so instead of a tube of material you have a single layered rectangle.

Fold an edge over the wire shape and sew it on, stretching the stocking out as you go to ensure that it fits by the end. Try to stitch it on without any wrinkles, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

For wings using other sorts of material
Lay the wire shape on top of the material and cut around it, including about a 5cm (2 inch) hem allowance.

Fold the wing membrane over the wire, and stitch it on, following the long side of the wing first (if there is one) and then gently stretching the material as you sew the second side. Try to stitch it on without any wrinkles, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

for both kinds of wing

The best way to stitch the membrane on isn’t around the wire, but long stitches just underneath the wire. See the diagram.

Once the membrane is stitched onto the wire, cut the excess off, leaving around a 2cm (3/4 inch) hem. If you’ve sewn the membrane tightly, the hem shouldn’t stick out too much. But if it does, you can glue it down with a hot glue gun or PVA/craft glue, or you can stitch it down.

Now, to join your wings together.
Grab the second pair of stockings. I usally use black stockings, as it’s a fair bet that I’ll be wearing black clothing underneath, so they’ll blend in. You can use any colour you prefer.
Cut a leg off, as close to the waist as you can go. Now cut the toes off and slit it up both sides of the leg so you end up with 2 single layered long rectangles.

Tightly wrap the straight wire with the stocking several times, so it’s about 1cm thick. You’ll probably use about half the stocking length for this. Stitch the end tightly down. If you didn’t make spirals, wrap the wire to the end. If you do have spirals, don’t wrap them, just wrap close to them.

Then wrap the second wing the same way.

Place both wing wires together and stitch tightly against eachother at the back and the front. If you’ve made spirals at the end of the wires, make sure they’re both at the front.

To hide the stiches, wrap the middle with more stocking, or another material, and stitch closed at the back.

Now comes the fun part, the decoration!
– Draw on the wings with fabric paint
– Sprinkle glitter on the wings after painting, the wet paint will hold the glitter like glue
– stitch or glue feathers on
– stitch buttons or sequins on
let your imagination run wild!

The last bit to do is the ties, so you can actually wear the wings

Get the second leg of the stockings, and cut off the toe and slit down both sides as before.

Position the wings in the middle of the stocking, and tie firmly around the middle wire.

If your wings are top heavy and swing downwards when you try them on, stretch the top tie up the wing a little and sew it on, as in the photo.

That’s it, your wings are now ready to wear or give as gifts. Go forth and make wings my friends!

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