How to Make Fairy Wings

Two Methods:Cartoon-Style WingsRealistic Wings

Making fairy wings is a great way to save money on a Halloween costume or create a great gift for a child. To make fairy wings, follow these instructions.

Method 1
Cartoon-Style Wings

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    Obtain four to eight wire coat hangers. You can obtain them for free from your local dry cleaners, as they often recycle the hangers or even try to throw them away. Wire hangers with a clear, flexible coating are easier on the fingers when you bend them.
    • To create four separate wings, you will need a minimum of four separate wire hangers. However, if you plan to make very rounded, hoop-like wings, it may be necessary to double up on the wire to keep your shapes sturdy; you will later be placing stockings over the wire structures, which may squeeze them into a more flattened form than you’d like.
    • Alternatively, you can also buy thick wire. 16-gauge wire is the highest you should go; 12-gauge or lower will give you a stronger form to work with.
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    Straighten the wire hangers. Straighten the hooks, unwrap the twisted spiral tops, stretch the wires into straight pieces, and flatten out kinks with pliers.
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    Shape the first upper wing. Use one wire for an elongated shape or two for a rounded one. Bend the wire into the desired shape and twist the ends together when you’re done, leaving some excess sticking out so that you can attach this to the other wings later. For inspiration, look at photos or illustrations of butterfly wings. You can also make dragonfly wings by just shaping them into long ovals.
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    Shape the second upper wing. Simply bend the wire into shape using the first wing as a guide. When you’re done, twist the ends together as before.
    • If you only want to use one piece of wire for each wing, you can make both wings at the same time; if using two for each wing, however, do them separately, as bending four wires at once won’t be easy.
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    Repeat Steps 3 and 4 with the lower wings. The lower wings should be smaller than the upper wings, which may mean that you need to shorten these wires.
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    Connect the four wings at the center. First, place the wires that jut out at the end of each wing so that they overlap the wires of the surrounding wings; you may need to do some additional bending to make this work. Then, secure the various wires together either by wrapping and tying them very firmly with string or by duct-taping them.
    • Don’t worry too much about how your central wire hub ends up looking, as you will cover it later.
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    Stretch and tie the leg of a stocking over each wing. The stockings fabric will form the wing material, so choose a color/pattern that achieves the look you’re going for (though you can also decorate the fabric later if desired). Simply feed a wing into the stocking, stretch it to the center, cut it to the necessary length, grab the open end on either side, and tie it over the center of the wire. Repeat with the other three wings.
    • Note that stretching a stocking over the wing form may distend the shape; simply pull the wire back into the original shape after you’ve tied the stocking off. (The tighter you pull the stocking, the more the wire wing shape will flatten.)
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    Cut two long pieces of a wide ribbon. Since these will be used to tie the wings on, make sure they not only match the stockings, but are also long enough to tie around the torso (i.e. around each shoulder, in an X over the chest, etc. depending on the desired look).
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    Tie each ribbon around the center of the wings. Be sure to orient the knots inward (i.e. toward the spine) so that the wings will tie on easily.
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    Decorate the wings if desired. For example, you can spray paint the edges, paint designs on the centers, paint the front and back sides differently, paint the top and bottom wings differently, or any combination thereof. You can also apply glue with a paintbrush and sprinkle glitter over the paint for a shimmery look.
    • If you’d prefer angel wings, add feathers. This can be done by attaching store-bought feathers to the wings with a strong glue; simply place a dab of glue where you’d like a feather, then stick the tip of the feather through the glue and into the stocking for a tight hold. Start from the bottom so that the next row of feathers will cover the quills of the row beneath it. Place longer feathers on the bottom and shorter feathers on the top of the most realistic effect. Note that you will have to feather both sides of each wing to make them look complete.

Method 2
Realistic Wings

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    Find a design for your wings. Look through nature books or images on the internet to find a basic black-and-white outline for a butterfly or dragonfly's wing. You will need the basic shape as well as the "cells" (or smaller shapes inside the wing) to create a strong frame for your wings. Print this design out onto one or multiple sheets of paper (depending on size).
    • You will probably want to do two wings individually, as this will be much easier to manage than a single, unified set.
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    Trace the design into poster board or cardstock. Get a thick paper (or several layers of thick paper glue together) and place your printed wing on top and facing up. Firmly trace the outside of the lines with a pen so that you end up embossing the cardstock below.
    • This cardstock can be whatever color you want but black is recommended for realism and so that the wings will be easier to see.
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    Cut out the design. Cut out the design using an exacto knife or similarly strong cutting utensil. Be careful to get the lines as clean and even as you can, since the frame will be very visible.
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    Glue the frame to cellophane. Use spray glue on both sides of the frame (with scrap or newspaper underneath), being careful not to get it stuck on anything. Take the glue-covered frame and place it on a sheet of cellophane.
    • Make sure to use cellophane and not shrink wrap.
    • Colored cellophane has color only on one side. You will want to glue that side so that it is facing or touching the frame. Test to know which side is which by using rubbing alcohol on a scrap or corner. If the color rubs away, this is the side that should be glued to the frame.
    • If you want to use glitter or paint or anything like that, do it after you have glued down the frame to this first layer.
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    Glue the second layer of cellophane. Place the second layer on the other side of the frame from the first. This will enclose the frame and any glitter or other additives you have placed in the cells.
    • Add more glue to the frame if you have not done the previous steps fast enough and the second layer will not adhere.
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    Iron the cellophane. Put your iron on the lowest setting and go over each side a few times. You do not want to over-iron or have your iron too hot, as this will make your wings look bad and melted.
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    Trim the excess. When everything is glued and ironed, trim the excess cellophane from around the edges of the wing.
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    Make a back attachment. Take a wire coat hanger and open it up into a single line of wire. Create a loop with ears or Ichthys (Jesus fish) shape. The "ears" should be bent at the correct angle for your wings. Attach the wings to the ears.
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    Wear your wings! You can cut a hole in your costume or clothing and fit the wire loop through the hole. Bind the wire loop to the chest with an ACE bandage and you're good to go!


  • To keep the wings from snagging and running easily, you can run superglue or glitter glue along the edges of the wings where the wire touches the pantyhose. You can also spray them with spray starch or with a clear acrylic sealant.
  • Add some sequins to add shimmer.
  • A pair of pliers will help you hold the wires and bend them precisely.
  • Wire any finer than 16 gauge will not hold up under the compressing force of nylons, no matter how much prettier and easier to work with you think it'll be.
  • To save time, dye your nylons and create different effects on them before stretching them over the hangers.
  • You can use a long elastic to attach the wings to you.


  • Please wear a mask or respirator if you are using spray paint.
  • Ace bandage is dangerous to wear around the chest. It can cause bruising and deforming of the ribs. Please DO NOT use ace bandage if you want to tie it tightly to your chest. Use ribbon or cloth, or a bra.

Things You'll Need

  • 4-8 wire coat hangers (or a thick wire)
  • Pliers
  • String (or duct tape)
  • 4 pantyhose legs
  • Ribbons
  • Paint, glitter, glue, etc. (alternatively, craft feathers)

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Categories: Featured Articles | Fairy Princess and Doll Costumes