Halloween Costume: Wings

Posted at October 25, 2011 by 0 Comment

In keeping with my “I love Autumn” theme, I adore Halloween. It’s not the candy – it’s the outlet for creativity and expression (even if for some people that expression is: Look how short my skirt is).  I’m certainly past the age where I can go trick-or-treating, and I’m sort of past the age where I like going out in the hoppin’ downtown district for Halloween (cover charges, epic crowds, way-too-loud live music and a derth of any decent beer make me unhappy). But I’m totally dressing up to hand out candy to all the kids in the neighborhood when they come trick-or-treating. Yay!

So when my friend Hannah mentioned that she wanted to make butterfly wings for her 3-year-old daughter to wear for Halloween, I practically BEGGED her to let me help, and she was kind enough to agree. But then we got talking and one thing led to another and a simple set of wings made with wire and pantyhose turned into a set of eight-hour black-orange-and-blue monarch wings that can flap whenever Cute Kid (CK) acts like a butterfly. They’re utterly superb and so much more than any sane person would make, and most definitely without counterpart in the For Sale world. Not even on Etsy. (I looked, believe me).

Because of that, I decided that for the kids that come around, I’m going to be a bee. And rather than buy bee wings at the Super Discount Halloween Store (or whatever it’s called), I would make a set using our original plans. Thus we have:

Challenge: Halloween Costume Wings

So, these wings here ( http://www.spirithalloween.com/product/ht-honey-bee-adlt-wings/) are my  comparison. I’m using the idea of the materials, more than the color and shape, as the comparison, because you know what? With DIY you can choose pretty much any color and any shape that suits your fancy. Which I did!

Anyway, to DIY wings I turned to the DIY guru, Martha. And then I kind of did whatever I thought was best. To make wings, you need:

2 wire hangers or a spool of 18 gauge wire (available at craft or fabric stores)
1 pair of nylon stockings or tights, in a color of your choosing
A wire cutter (if you use hangers)
1 to 2 feet of elastic
Duct or packing tape
Glue (hot or otherwise)

some of the supplies

Very Important Supplies, right here.

Okay! This is pretty easy to do. First, bend your hanger/wire into the shape you want. There are LOTS of forms you can print out and use to shape your wings, if you’d like. But I just pulled down one side of each hanger to give me a wing-like shape.

pulling the hanger to shape the wing

Pull one side of the hanger to shape the wing.

Then, if you’re using hangers, cut the hook part off. You can also loop the wings together at this point, to keep them connected.

tape the edges of the hangers together

The less tape you use, the better the final product will look.

Tape the wires’ cut ends together to hold the wing shape. I also taped my wings together where they crossed, to make them stand up a bit more. (No droopy wings for me!)

tie off stockings

Cut off the excess stocking after you've tied it off to create a sleeker profile.

Cut one leg off your pair of stockings, then slip it over one wing form. Pull tight and tie off, moving the knot to the side of the wings that will be against your back. Repeat with the other side. If you hooked the wings together, the second stocking will cover the knot of the first – that’s okay. Tie it tightly and it’ll all stay put.

ready for decoration

Ready for your creative input. Or simple yellow stripes.

Ta da! Your basic wings are done. Consider them a blank slate – you can now decorate them ANY way you’d like. Glitter? Sure! Fabric paint? Okay! Fake jewels? Whatever your heart desires. I went very basic and just added a few fuzzy yellow stripes. (I’m not being literal with my bee-dom here. It’s more a hint ‘o bee.)

stripes on my wings

Does this say "Bee" or what?

Last but not least, cut your elastic in half and stitch or glue it into circles. Then slip the circles over each wing. The elastic will come to rest in the center of the “V” of the wings. Then slip one arm through each elastic and wear your wings like a backpack. They’re lightweight, comfortable and oh-so charming – whether you’re 3 years old or 30 years old.

Time and Cost Comparison

My comparison wings are $8.99 for the set and they take no time at all to pick out.

These wings cost a total of $3.66, but I had just about everything but the stockings on-hand. However, if you have to buy the stockings, the wire and the elastic, in Des Moines you’d spend something close to $7.94. So… pretty comparable. As for time, a lot of it depends on what you want to do. The simple wing shapes and decorations I used went together in about 15 minutes. However, for more elaborate wing shapes and decorations, I could see spending an hour getting it right.

Product Content Comparison 

Both sets of wings are made with a synthetic material stretched across wire – not very environmentally friendly, I’d wager, although the DIY can really be made with stuff you have lying around the house, so they’re kind of recycling. And neither set is horribly durable, either. One snag and the DIY wings are going to fall to pieces. The material of the store-bought wings is a little sturdier, but not by much.

Appearance Comparison

Both look cute from afar, and a little chintzy up close. The DIY wings look DIY, but I feel like there’s a sort of charm to them, and they would look better if you invest a little more time and energy into dolling them up (which I really did not). Also, if you were careful to match your wire to your stocking color, and you used an appropriatly colored tape (or no tape at all, even) to hold the wire together, it’d go a long way to making them look sharper.

The store bought wings look and feel kind of cheap – I wouldn’t expect the elastic arm loops to last more than an evening, and I can’t figure out what that flower in the middle has to do with anything, except it holds the elastic in place. And the glitter in the wing design comes off all over your clothes (but so would glitter on your own wings).

PITA Factor

2.5. Cutting the hangers kind of bends them out of shape, so that takes a little reworking. And getting craft wire to trace around the edge of a form isn’t easy – there’s lots of reworking there too. But it’s not hard and it goes fast.

DIY or Buy? 

Buy if you don’t care what they look like or if you don’t already have the hangers lying around the house. DIY if you have a specific look you’re going for or you’ve recently been to the dry cleaners.

So, what’s your Halloween costume? And are you DIYing part/all of it? Do share!


Category : Craft
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