Tuesday, 24 May 2011

How to make fairy wings.

Well, I've been a bit slack, haven't I? No new posts for weeks. so to reward you for your patience I've put together this tutorial revealing all my secrets! You too can make pretty wings for your fairies.

I make wings in all shapes and sizes - this tutorial is for basic single wings, but like most things, once you learn the basics the sky's the limit.

Start with two wire coathangers, preferably new, for a good result.

Join the two by straightening the hook and wrapping tightly (with pliers) around each end of the twisted section. Make sure sharp ends are tucked in. In this pic I've started to straighten out the kinks, prior to shaping.

Start shaping, at this stage don't worry about shaping through the lateral plane, this comes later.

Now for the tricky bit :o)
Shape your second side to match the first...real right brain stuff this! A template drawn on a piece of old cardboard works well for this and helps if you want to repeat the same design. Small differences won't be noticeable, and faeries, just like people, aren't exactly symmetrical anyway.

Now for shaping through the lateral plane. I find wings always look better with a little upward curve from the centre, they also sit better. But if you are not keen to tackle this, flat is OK too.

As for the initial shaping, try to get both sides about the same. Do check them from all angles and tweak, tweak, tweak!

Now for the fun part!
I don't recommend using brown pantihose unless you are after the earthy look. You can use white and paint or dye them, or if you are lucky enough to find them - coloured pantihose. Sheer pantihose in the largest size will work best.
I wind cotton tightly just above the toe, stitch, and remove the reinforced toe-piece as this will not look attractive on the finished wings. Cut the legs off where they join the panty. Be careful when dragging the pantihose over the wire, at this stage your wings are quite fragile. A note from experience here....don't leave them where the cats can play with them! Get them to the paint stage ASAP!
Now for some strange reason I got carried away here and forgot to take a few next stage photos ;o( but it isn't hard - really.
Pull the toe over the outmost extremity of the wings and pull the excess to the centre.
When you have both sides on gather the excess and overlap. I put the elastic in at this point. And I find clear swimwear elastic looks and performs best. Make two loops for your fairy's arms and staple the elastic in the centre. Then place the elastic in the centre of your wing frames and wind your excess fabric around as many times as it will go. The aim is to completely cover the centre piece where the coathangers are joined so that it is well padded and comfortable to wear. Stitch it neatly into place.

Now for the design!
I use PVA glue mixed 2 parts glue to 1 part water. This allows ease of painting but still adheres the glitter well. It is important to cover the outside edges (see photo) if you want your wings to last. I don't put glitter towards the centre back (that goes against the body) as glitter is nearly as abrasive as sandpaper and can snag pretty dresses, just a little on the outside edges will give you sparkle when viewed from the front.The design is up to you. If you'd like to do patterning over the base glitter colours, I recommend 'Plexi-glue' which is a flexible fabric glue with a nice fine nozzle for intricate swirls etc. It is best to do one side at a time to avoid the glue drying too much, if it is not 'wet' the glitter will not adhere adequately.
Another tip: I use a large sheet of paper to catch the excess glitter, it is then easy to pour it back into the jar. I also use an old sheet under this to catch stray drips of glue and any glitter that goes astray - as glitter so often does.

For the two-tone effect I've done here, paint all of one wing,  apply first glitter colour, shake off excess and re-jar, then apply second colour with an overlap to blend. If you wish to add more design work, allow this first coat to dry completely before working over it.
Now, a note here on drying. The best place to dry wings quickly is on the line in the sun, hung by the straps. However, sometimes, as on this day, the weather doesn't co-operate. I use a simple drying rack, but a note of caution - move your wings on the rack several times during the drying process so that they do not adhere to the rack. With care you can dry multiple pairs this way.

Another option is to dry them on an old sheet (as above) and again, be sure to move them several times so that they don't stick. Here's where the shaping upwards helps as only a small portion of the wings will be touching the cloth and not where the glitter is applied.
On the wings pictured above I have spray painted a second colour onto the pantihose before applying the glue. All the rest is brush painted then glitter applied colour by colour.
You can have lots of fun exploring different colour and pattern combinations.

Now, if you really want to go wild, add ribbons, flowers, bows, gems, whatever to the centre piece with hot glue gun, anything goes.

To see more of my wings visit our etsy shop or facebook page.


  1. Beautiful! What gorgeous details, color and sparkle... makes me want a pair. Maybe it would make housecleaning and laundry more fun if I strapped on a pair. ;)

  2. Anything is more fun in fairy wings! :o)
    Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Great tutorial! You have the most fabulous imagination to come up with all of the different designs you stock. I'd love to see some of the detail that was missed in your next post :o) xo Blossie

  4. Wow! I have a ton of extra hangers lying around... maybe I should put them to use! :D

  5. You know I love your wings!

    More blogging please!

  6. I think I should write a book...'101 uses for a dead coathanger'...lol. I make so many things with them. Or maybe I should get an award (tongue firmly in cheek here) for saving the world from an oversupply of wire coathangers (they breed you know).

  7. lovely, and thanks for the excellent tutorial!