Monday, 20 June 2011

Monday Makery - Pillowcase Wings

Ok, this is one for us grown ups! This all started with a white wraparound cotton cardi that Sessi wasn't showing any interest in wearing. I sewed two ribbon loops onto the cuffs and suddenly it was transformed into a pair of wings, becoming a favourite thing to wear over dresses and t-shirts. The idea has been in my mind now to make her some fabric wings as an alternative to the wire ones, that get bashed and knocked about whilst playing and quite often get taken off in frustration. I wanted some wings that made Sessi feel as though she really could fly.  The technique is one I have seen on this blog here using various fabric layers to create plumes. The basic idea can be adapted to create different styles, colours and bug wings too which are great for boys who aren't interested in being fairies or birds but still want to fly! These are sure to become the favourite pieces in our dressing up box.

You'll need:
  • Card
  • Pencil
  • measuring tape
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • fabric
  • string
  • elastic
  • ribbon
  • and either fabric glue or a needle and thread or a sewing machine. The ones I made here I used fabric glue for as it seemed a far quicker option than pinning and sewing. (always the path of least resistance)

here's how:

  1. I first measured Sessi's wingspan -  the length from one wrist to the other across her shoulders, and then the 'drop' for the length of the inner side of the wing
  2. Dividing the wingspan into 2 and adding an inch for looseless and a little room for growth I drew a template onto card and cut it out. I first measured the top 17" then the drop 21"and using a pencil  tied to string drew a curved line between the two. The curved line stopped short of the length I wanted but it was a good guideline to have in place. You will only need one template as you can flip it over for the other side.
  3. I then decided on the length and width for each plume and drew a template for a small row cutting it ready for measuring and cutting the fabric.

4. I discovered that each wing fits perfectly onto a pillowcase side so found an old pillowcase that would have ended up in charity - which is where I will be looking for the next fabric.

5. I drew around the stencil of each wing with pencil onto the pillow case and cut it out using pinking shears to prevent any fraying. It also gave the wings a beautiful textured edge.

6. Then having chosen my fabric for the plumes - I raided the offcuts in the haberdashery department. I cut out the plumes using the card template. Some in rows and some single ones too.

7. I layered each plume onto the fabric using fabric glue to stick them on; starting from the bottom and working my way up to the top. Cutting the edges that overlapped as I went. It's a bit like a making a fabric collage.

    8. I stitched the wings together at the top about an inch of stitching down towards the bottom.
    9. Then I measured the elastic to make a loop around the wrist and sewed it to the top edges of the wings. A loop each side.
    10. To prevent the wings from drooping at the back I measured some ribbon to tie around the shoulders. I folded the ribbon in half and stitched the centre of the ribbon to the central part of the back of the wings. I think the ribbon adds a nice touch too.
 ....and there you have it, beautiful fabric wings so you can soar to your hearts content.


It might sound like a long project but it was super easy so don't be put off by the 10 steps! You'll be surprised too as to how easy you can obtain all the things you'll need.

I'm now making a bug pair for Gabriel and a pair with shades of white with thinner longer plumes like feathers of a dove for Oona.

I'm utterly in love with them and i'm sure they'll get lots of play. Great too for all those childrens party costumes. Also lots of my friends are already wanting them too so i'll be making some for birthday gifts no doubt. Its seeing the movement of the wings that is so beautiful especially in the breeze of a summers day.

After a day of flying in the tropical gardens of Battersea park it was time to go home.

I wonder where we'll fly tomorrow?


  1. Love this project and what you've done with it. Has been on my make list for a few months and had hoped the Solstice Fairy might bring them. Perhaps Winter Solstice...

  2. This is absolutely gorgeous - what a clever idea. I would love to try making something similar. The brightly coloured one is fab!

  3. Wonderful! Do you by chance have an estimate for how much this project costs?

  4. BEAUTIFUL! Can you sell them in your shop?? :)

  5. Those wings are so beautiful!! I would buy them if you sold them!!!

  6. Love these wings!! Am inspired to make them this summer with the kids.

  7. In answer to some of your questions:
    These wings can be made for very little. The main cost is of course the fabric but if you can find fabric you like be it from a t-shirt, skirt, napkin, pillowcase or tea towel found in your nearest charity shop you're already there. The fabric glue costs between £2-3 and you may need 2 tubes. The elastic and ribbon needed can cost very little too at your nearest haberdashery.
    Do go ahead and make these wings, I cannot tell you how happy the girls are flying around the park. They are their favourite items in our dressing up box - in fact they wear them so much they are now hung up with the coats!
    Have fun and do send pictures, we'd love to see all your children take flight!

  8. Did you pink the plumes too? (I can't tell from the pictures) What were the measurements on them? Have they held up okay with the fabric glue? I've never used it before.

  9. the pink is from the back of the pillow case. I'm actually amazed with how well the fabric glue has worked. They've been through the wash several times and have been on all our holidays since. They've been the most worn items in their wardrobes and still they're perfect!

  10. How do you keep the edges from fraying?

  11. Is the wings lined or not.. what can you put on the plume from fraying. just love the idea you have going.

  12. The wings aren't lined.... I don't think they would really require it, especially as it would have to the weight for little arms.
    I used pinking shears to cut the fabric to avoid fraying. Ours are still in perfect condition after all their play and all this time.

    hope this helps