Anyone who has tried to find wing making instructions on Google knows how hard it is to find a tutorial that goes beyond sliding panty hose over coathangers. In an effort to fill the gap and give every fairy a chance to craft their perfect wings, this page was created. A big thanks to the fae over at FaerieFashion, without whom this page never would have been possible.
On the other hand, if you're going for sort of a "modified tinkerbell" shape, you probably won't need a life sized pattern.
Once you have your design, get the right materials for the job.
Making the Frame:
The most common, tried and true method of wing making is to start with a wire frame. If you want a lot of detail in the edges, or are using very stiff wire, needlenose pliers can be very helpful in shaping the wire exactly how you want it. Work gloves can also be helpful, if you have them. On the other hand, if you just want rounded, "teardrop" shaped wings, you probably won't need them.
If you are making super tiny wings, you may just want to make both sides of your wings out of one long piece of wire. This is still possible to do with large wings, but it is so difficult most people won't bother with it. You'll likely want to shape each side out of a seperate length of wire -- Make sure that you have several inches of extra wire at each end, on the inside edge of the wings. This can be used both for safety, if you want to bend your wings a little differently later on, and with attaching your wings in the end.
Most of the time, just eyeballing your wings should be sufficient to get the two sides to match up. But if you're trying to make a more "advanced" or difficult pair of wings, with very detailed edges, you might have some more trouble, especially if you did not create a life sized pattern first. Try using the finished side as a guide. Or, if that is too difficult, place your finished side on a large piece of paper (tape together several pieces, if you need too) and trace the finished side. Then lay the unfinished side against the tracing and shape it using that as a base. You should have much better results.
If that doesn't work, you might want to try going back and cutting out the shape you want from cardboard first. You can bend the wire right around the carboard, flip the cardboard over, and do it again on the other side for an exact shape. Making a cardboard guide will also allow you to experiment with new shapes before you start bending your wire.
You can add veins within your wings by adding several curved lengths of wire within the frame, wrapping the ends of your "vein" wire tightly around the inside edge of the frame, close to the bottom, being careful that there are no sharp edges. Secure with a dot of hot glue, or wrap with floral tape or duct tape. This will also help prevent the wire from poking you in the back. Remember that veins can also be added later on using fabric paint or glitter glue, if you don't require the specific effect of wire and painting them on would be easier.
Take the extra wire ends you left on the inside edge of each wing, and twist all four of them together tightly so that they form a bar that can rest against your back. You'll probably want to use a pair of pliers to help you with this. For extra strength and protection from pokey edges, it is a good idea to wrap this bar in floral tape or duct tape. You can cover this bar in opaque material as well, if you'd like.
Another way to attach your two wings is to trim the two loose ends so that you have just enough to wrap them together, making your frame a loop that goes around forever. Once your material has been applied, you can sew them to another support bar that you've created. Corrugated cardboard covered in material can be very strong, or even layered, very heavy fabric. Create something based on the size and weight of your wings.
Later on, you can hide the support bar using ribbon, feathers, flowers or leaves, if you like.
Adding the Membrane:
If you are using panty hose, snip the two legs off from the main panty, and stretch one pant over each wing. If you have multiple sections to each side of your wing, you'll need a leg for each one. Stretch it a little tighter than you want, as it will relax a little while you are trying to secure it. Stitch the hose closed along the outside of the frame, or glue it down. Trim the hose down so you don't have any extra hanging off. You may want to wrap the loose bits with floral tape so that it blends into the support bar. Repeat on the other side.
If you are using fabric, sandwich your wings inside two pieces of fabric, and trim it so that there is an eigth of an inch to a half inch extra all around. Roll the fabric around the wire, hiding the seam as best you can, and then stitch it closed carefully. Use pins as liberally as you need to. If you are afraid that your fabric will slide around, you may want to reach inside the two sheets of fabric while one edge is still open, and put a drop of glue here and there along the inside edge of the wire to hold it in place.
This is often the funnest step in the whole process. One can only offer so much guidance -- It's all up to you to decide what you will do. Now is the time to airbrush or paint spots of color on, draw on veins, glue fake jewels, leaves or flowers on, attach ribbons to hang down from the bottom of your wings, etc. But before you decorate the support bar, make sure you have attached the ribbon, string or elastic that will hold your wings onto you.
Cut two strips of elastic, long enough to loop around your arms. Wrap one end tightly around the support bar, to one side or the other. Stitch the other end to the part you just sewed, so that you are left with a large loop you can slip your arm through. Repeat on the other side.
You can also use ribbon, string, or strips of fabric to attach your wings.
Other things to try:
1. When you have made the frames for the two sides of your wings, you may want to try duct/floral/electrical taping them together along the inside of the frame, so that there is no supporting bar between them. You will have to sew the ribbon or elastic to attach your wings directly to the fabric, so be careful what materials you choose, and make sure it is sewn tightly to your frame.
2. Experiment with different attachment methods. For instance, you might want to make your support bar a triangle rather than a bar, and attach one end of your loop to the top point and the other to a side point. (There will be two pieces attached to the top.) This might provide better balance, depending on the shape of your wings. Or, you could try making a sideways figure eight out of wire (the infinity symbol,) and using the two loops for your arms, attaching the wings to the center of the eight, where the wire crosses.
3. For a more raggedy, "natural" look, you may want to put small holes here and there in your wings. If you are using Nylon stockings, one method of achieving this is to take your wings outside (don't even attempt to do this in an enclosed space. It will smell awfully. Do your best to inhale the smell as little as possible), and with the tip of a stick of incense, burn a small hole. If you wish to enlarge it, run a lighter underneath until it is the size you want. The heat will fuse the nylons around the hole so you won't have to worry about seams and runs. Basically, any material with plastic in it will just singe, not burn, so you can use this technique on many different kinds of wing membranes. Just be very careful not to burn yourself or to inhale the fumes.
If you are using fabric, you will probably want to use scissors or an exacto knife to shape your hole, and then outline the edges in glue, paint, or clear nail polish to keep the edges from running.
The projects on this page are intended for adults who can take responsibility for themselves. Constructed fairy wings do not give their wearer the ability to fly if the individual in question did not already possess the ability. Duh.