How to Make Monarch Butterfly Wings

My daughter was in a school play. She instructed me to come up with a costume, but she was very accommodating about it. “It’s called ‘Bugz,’ so I need to be a bug. But my teacher said I can be any kind of bug.” “That might be true for most of the class,” said I, “but your first line is ‘I am a monarch butterfly.’ So I think you should probably be one of those.”

Which meant, of course, that I had to come up with a monarch butterfly costume.

I wanted it to be big enough to be immediately recognizable, but not so big that she was poking her fellow thespians in the eye…or flattening them every time she turned around. I found this example at icandy and used a lot of her procedures.

foam core
utility knife
1 yard black felt
10 sheets orange felt (9×12″ squares)
1 sheet of white foam
orange glitter glue
spray adhesive
glue gun and sticks

I started with a sheet of foam core (also called foam board) from the craft store. Since my daughter was at school at the time, I traced one of her shirts onto the board to give me an idea how big to make the wings.

Since the board will be totally covered in felt, you can make as many mistakes drawing as you want…just keep track of which line you actually want to cut. Once you have the wings the way you like, cut out the shape with a utility knife.

I traced the foam wings onto black felt, leaving about an inch all around so the fabric could be pulled over and glued on the back.

I then cut out the felt and attached it to one side of the wings, using the spray adhesive. Let dry and repeat for the other side.

When it was time to put on the orange markings, I experimented first with paper until I had everything the way I wanted it. I used the paper as a template and cut out four copies (front and back, left and right wings).

I attached the orange felt with more spray adhesive but it started to come off pretty easily…I think next time I’d glue gun everything from the start.

Then I cut approximately one million and two small white circles out of a sheet of foam. I looked online at other people’s projects and some of them said they glued white sequins on their wings…but I could not find any of those anywhere. If you can come up with smallish white circles somewhere, by all means do that. Otherwise it’s an easy enough task to cut little circles while watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory.

I glue-gunned the circles around the outside of the wings in a random pattern and outlined the orange felt with glitter glue. It was at this point that one of the kids informed me the wings weren’t totally entomologically accurate. Harumph.

This is after the first performance. I didn’t notice until later that an orange felt piece was missing. See? Shoulda glue-gunned it.

I attached the elastic with more glue-gunning and we were finished!

And whether she likes it or not, she’s totally being a monarch butterfly for Halloween this year.

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