This is the tutorial (you're welcome!) for making the Butterfly Wings we gave out to guests at Kate's Bug Party.
As with all my tutorials and patterns (free and for sale), this is for personal, non-commercial use only. This means you can make these Butterfly Wings for gifts but you may not make them for sale in your etsy shop, craft fair booth or any kind of endeavor for commercial profit. If you want to sell stuff for profit, make your own patterns and engineer your own projects, or use the ones that offer limited commercial licenses which allow for such retail sale.
Now let's get started.
These Butterfly Wings are quite large and I didn't want to waste paper making the full template of the wings. You can do that yourself (instructions to follow). I did, however, draft for you the templates for the hood and sleeves because they have to fit nicely or else look and feel hideous and your children might reject them.
Here are the templates for the hood and sleeves.
They are drafted in two main sizes: Kate's (about 5 years old) and Emily/Jenna's (6-8 years old). Feel free to adjust the pattern to fit different- sized children. This is hardly a custom-fit garment, so all you need to do is lengthen or shorten the sleeve lengths and maybe make the hood gusset longer or shorter (and the hood sides correspondingly larger to match) to accommodate for longer necks and bigger heads.
As always, my patterns have NO seam allowances, so add your own (I recommend 1/2" for easy handling, which you can trim to 1/4" later to reduce bulk when the seams are completed). The only exception is the antenna, which is a topstitched sandwich and technically doesn't need a seam allowance (since there are no seams)- just a stitching line position. But I included the tuck allowance at the bottom of the antenna to allow it to be tucked into the relevant seam in the gusset.
First, make the antennae. Just top-stitch. No need for interfacing. I even used cheap acrylic felt. Do not backstitch at the bottom of the antennae. You will be splitting the seam apart later.
Next, insert the antennae into the seam that joins both parts of the gusset.
Sew that seam with the RS's of the gusset pieces together, enclosing the ends of the antennae within it.
At the ends of the antennae, split apart their layers up to that gusset seam, breaking the topstitching in the process,
press open that seam, separating the layers of the antennae as shown,
flip over to the RS of the gusset and topstitch on either side of the seamline, catching the ends of the antennae underneath in the process. The antennae are now equally anchored on either side of the seam,
so that they stand up when the hood is completed.
Now attach the gusset to the hood sides. Use whatever method you are familiar with (pinning, easing, snipping SA etc.) to attach the curved edges of the hood to the relatively straight edges of the gusset,
with one special note: leave the last 1/2" of the seam on each side of the gusset (where the hood will attach to the neck of the wings) unsewn. Do you see those notches at the lower edge of the hood?
Zooming in - the red arrows show the last 1/2" of each seam left unsewn (remember to backstitch!) We do this to separate the bottom edge of the hood into three sections. The annotations below explain the purposes of those different sections and what will happen to the corresponding seam allowances.
Here's a schematic diagram of the hood to say the same thing.
Now trim the pointy corners of the hood - a curve is easier to hem than a pointy corner.
Fold the SA (or, more accurately, the hem allowance) of that edge to the WS of the hood and topstitch all around to finish that edge. Note that the gusset bit is left unhemmed because it gets attached to the neck of the wing portion later.
The hood is finished. Set it aside and work on the wings. There are three parts to the wing portion:
- the sleeves
- the wings themselves and
- the worm.
There is no template for the wings or the worm (which is my cunning name for that central bit that was once the caterpillar before it became the butterfly). You will make your own patterns for these. Here is a schematic diagram to help:
To make the wing pattern, lay your child on newspaper (or the fabric itself) and have her spread her arms out, then trace the wing shape and length of sleeves you want. You literally wing it (hahahahaha! Couldn't resist). Here is Kate demonstrating the layout:
Wings before sleeves attached
Wings after sleeves attached
Alternatively, if your fabric is big enough, you can also cut each wing+sleeve as a single piece. If your fabric is REALLY big enough, you can even cut out the two+wings+two+sleeves as a single huge piece. So
2 separate wings with attached sleeves, to be folded along dotted line in lieu of seams.
One+wing+plus+one+separate+sleeve (pink side), shown with the integrated folded-sleeve wing (yellow side) for comparison.
Get the idea?
Right, let's move on.
If you are planning to embellish the wings with applique, you should do that first. We pinned and topstitched four patches onto the RS's of the wings as shown.
The next step is to attach the sleeves. Line up the longest edge of the sleeve with the top edge of the wing, so their cuffs are aligned.
Cut a notch where the shoulder end of the sleeve meets the top edge of the wing. This notch should be as deep as the SA of this top edge of the wing. The notch separates the top edge of the wing into two sections: one that attaches to the sleeve, and the other that forms the neck to attach to the hood.
Beginning at the slit, sew the seam that attaches the sleeve to the wing. Note the WS/RS configurations of sleeve and wing.
Then flip the sleeve over to the WS of the wing and sew the bottom edge of the sleeve to the wing. Depending on the position (and color) of your earlier embellishment on the RS of the wing, you might have to change your bobbin thread to match whatever is underneath that seam.
The sleeve was drafted to end in a perpendicular cuff line because I have no idea how slanty your particular wing is going to be when you draft it. When you have attached my sleeve to your wing, you can trim the cuff to match the slant of the wing tip,
The finished sleeve will hug the shoulder like this
even when the arm is raised
and allow quite a bit of freedom of motion while still being comfortable to wear.
Now repeat the whole process for the other wing and sleeve.
Then sew both wing halves together with their WSs (not RSs) touching. So yes, you will get exposed SA on the RS of the wings, like this:
It gets hidden later. Trust me. Remember that I am fanatical about hiding SA and wherever possible, I will.
The wing portion is finished! We will now assemble the entire outfit, connecting the hood, wing and worm at the neck region. This is the layout:
and this is the schematic diagram showing the layering. Pay attention to the RS and WS configurations and the fact that the hood is upside down.
Sew that seam at the neck, through all three layers, from slit to slit.
Here is that seam (blue arrow) in a different color combination for visibility. Note that there are no visible SAs on this side of the seam - they are all on the RS of the outfit.
Home stretch now! Flip the worm over to the RS of the wings. You will notice that now, ALL the previously-exposed SA are going to be hidden under the worm (good riddance).
Pin the worm in position and topstitch along both long edges of the worm, securing it to the wings and covering all the exposed SAs in the process.
The Butterfly Wings are completed!
Here are some shots of the finished outfit - the hood
the back, with hood down
and in motion.
For an alternative Butterfly Winged costume, try this post.
Before I sign off, here's a question I've been asked countless times (about other tutorials as well) and I thought I'd finally answer it:
FAQ: Why are you so generous? Why didn't you release this as a paid pattern instead of a free tutorial? Don't shortchange yourself!
A: Hahahaha! It's not generosity, dahlings - it's foresight. If this were a paid pattern, I'd have to actually spoonfeed you the templates for everything, including the paper-wasting ginormous wings, the blob patches, the worm spine thing AND have to draw in seam allowances for you AND have to grade the pieces into all sizes from preemie to 18 years old. And then release a limited-edition Adult Size Version. AND have to take about 500 photos and write copious amounts of detailed sewing instructions, including the kind of needles to use and the definition of a "straight stitch" and "selvedge" just so I could say on the cover page, "Suitable for beginners". And then I'd have to have it tested by different people with different sewing skill levels (including beginners) with different-sized children, for whom I'd have to design a feedback form, after which I'd have to compile all the feedback and distill the bits that actually would improve the pattern from the bits that are only a reflection of the testers' general ignorance or shady sewing backgrounds.
And then have to deal with download issues like Internet Explorer or people waiting by their physical mailboxes for a pdf pattern to be delivered by UPS or who, despite repeated warnings, download the pattern to their iPads and then realize it can't be printed from there and then panic and have to be calmed down so they don't shoot angry emails to paypal and open disputes to sully my reputation.
And we haven't even begun to talk about the hours and hours at the sewing machine making samples and muslins and testing and counter-testing and at the computer typing and scanning and editing photos and corresponding with testers. Why would I choose this incredibly time-consuming chore, of all things, to do with my precious summer (or winter or fall or spring, really) hours?
Ah. With a free tutorial, though, I can do as little as I like and make you do some of the work and learn something about drafting in the process, and you save money and your daughters, nieces, granddaughters and grandnieces still get their Butterfly Wings and everybody is happy. So... as I said: foresight. It may not fill my bank account but it's bought me a free summer. And we all know which is irreplaceable.