Thursday, October 18, 2012

butterfly wing tutorial

I made a pair of butterfly wings for my granddaughter to wear on Halloween. I thought you might like to see how it was done, so here goes!

First of all, I bent four coat hangers into wing shapes. I used both my hands and a pair of pliers for some of the sharper corners. Then I tested some of my filmy fabrics for paint/dyeing capabilities. After that, I proceeded to cut out fabric with at least 1" excess fabric all around the wing shape. I folded it over the wire with clothespins, then with pins, making a smooth, neat fit.

I took some matching thread and sewed the fabric layers, as close to the wire as I could, wrapping the thread around the neck of the handle as I went along. Then I carefully trimmed away the excess fabric.

Sharp corners were trickier to navigate. I stitched around as well as I could and used a little fray check on the inner corners to secure.

This is how it looked after I sewed it and dabbed on a tiny bit of fray check. So far so good.

Painting was fun! I used Setacolor transparent fabric paints, which are colorfast. Other fabric paint would also work well, just make sure it's transparent and not opaque. You also don't want the paint to rub off on clothing. This is my fancy hanging system just outside my art studio, overlooking the living room. After I painted on the basic colors, I embellished further with fabric markers. This was my favorite part.

I also painted some "streamers" with lengths of the same fabric.

Okay, here's what NOT to do. I cut off the wire ends so that only the part where the wires wrapped around each other on the hanger were left, then wrapped the wires with duct tape. Then I used more duct tape to connect one upper wing and one lower wing. I attached all the wings together, criss-cross style, but the problem was that the wings became too floppy. So I removed the duct tape and went on to plan b.

I wrapped the wires together with batting and a sturdy glue. I think it was Gorilla Glue, but any strong glue should work. I further strengthened the connection with some selvedge strips I had on hand and more glue. I let this dry for a day before I went any further.

I arranged the wings criss-cross style and connected both pairs with more batting and more glue. No sharp wires will scratch my granddaughter, no way. I let this dry for another day. This made for a much sturdier set of wings. Hurray!

This photo is on its side, but as you can see I added some sheer matching layers over the batting. It was actually the fabric scraps I used to test colorfastness. Then I simply tied  the streamers onto right and left upper corners, to stream in the breeze.

At this point people often add straps of some sort, usually made with elastic. Living on opposite coasts from my granddaughter, I wasn't sure how big to make them. So I sewed three pinbacks to the center area. You can buy pinbacks at craft stores. This way the wings can be attached to any clothing. I also made a 4" padded square, made of fabric and batting, which can be used as a stabilizing base on the inside of thinner clothing, such as a t-shirt.

And there you have it! If I get a photo of my granddaughter wearing it (hint hint), I will post it here. Let me know if you try to make your own butterfly wings! There are all sorts of tutorials online, and this was my own take.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

prayer flag from Vickie

Vickie made this beautiful prayer flag for me, to add to my collection. The theme is "Time to Shine," isn't it clever? The letters and number are made with rhinestones on an invisible sheet. I'd never seen that before.

I've been hard to work on multiple projects. Today my focus has been on an upcycled wearable art project, and a Christmas stocking for my guild. Pix soon. Ack, too many things in progress: two quilts, a toddler sweater, a prayer flag, Christmas ornament exchange gift, plus the two things in the previous sentence. Who has time to post when there's work to be done?!

The butterfly wings got sent off earlier this week. One of these days I will post a tutorial. They turned out great!