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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No-Sew Owl/Bird Wings


These wings are super easy and require nothing more then felt and hemming tape.

OK and scissors, a piece of paper, a pencil and an iron.

At the end I've listed several costume ideas, there are just so many possibilities.

This project is super, super easy (although a bit time consuming) so don't let all the text throw you, 
I've given extremely detailed directions.

Here is the short version for you naturally crafty people:
The base of your wings is a half circle of felt (cut in half for each wing),
the length of your child's "wingspan".
Cut feathers in whichever size and color you like and apply them using hemming tape (or stitch witchery).  OR HOT GLUE
Attach to a shirt, hoodie or onesie with the hemming tape 
OR to a ribbon at the neck (to tie like a cape) 
and ribbon or elastic for the wrists (using the tape or hot glue) 

Picnik collage

Start by folding a piece of paper in half and drawing your feather.

Mine were about 2 1/2" wide and 3 3/4" long and I used nearly 80 of them.
The longer and wider the feather, the less you need to use to cover your wings.

I used the paper as a template to cut the first felt feather.
After that I used the felt feather as a template as felt on felt doesn't slide like paper on felt.
Use a different color than what you are cutting to make it easier.

A note about the felt:
I preferred to use the kind of felt you buy at the fabric store by the yard as opposed to crafters felt.
Crafter's felt is fine but is less durable.
Depending on how active your child is you might want something that isn't as easy to pull apart as crafter's felt (the stuff that comes cut into little squares in the art & craft section)
Either are pretty darn cheap.

Picnik collage

Measure your child from wrist to wrist while they have their arms straight out in a T.
This was the hardest part of the whole project.  
Try getting an 11 month old to stay still for measuring!

Cut that measurement in half, say 12 inches and that is your wing width.
I used a piece of butcher paper but you could open up a paper bag or other large paper for this.
If using newspaper go for the glossy color ads that won't get your felt dirty with print.

I used a measuring tape, tacked down in the corner of the paper
and marked every several inches from one side to the other.
Then simply connect the dots and cut out your wing.
At this point you are ready to go.

This is totally unnecessary but I decided that I wanted the wings to be shorter then they are long
so he isn't sitting on them when I try to take pictures.
I took my template and cut another inch off and then adjusted it so I could cut the inch off the bottom with a nice smooth transition.

Note:  I really should have adjusted it 2 inches as my feathers are hanging off the end but really... 
noone is going to notice so I will try to control my OCD :)

Picnik collage

-Note that hot glue will make the wings a bit stiff but it would be faster.

Cut your hemming tape or stitch witchery (I used the 5/8 inch, regular weight) 
into the right length to fit across the top of your feathers.

Some hemming tape comes with a paper backing and some does not.
We don't need it.
Line up your feathers on the ironing board (you can do 2 rows with the tops towards the middle)
cover with a piece of parchment paper and iron on medium.

It takes just about 5 or 10 seconds and 
when you peel the parchment off your tape should be stuck to your feather.

If not then just press again.

Picnik collage

Now you are ready for my favorite part which is laying out your design.

Start on one side and lay out your feathers to your liking.
If they go off the end of your felt don't worry about it, we are going to trim later.

I adjusted the right side to my liking and then actually ironed on the left side to mirror the right.
When the left was done I ironed the right.
This ensured that I always had a guide... because I'm a little crazy,
You could also just put them on as you go.

Again with my right wing as a guide I started on my left wing.
Always start from the bottom.

Lay out one row, cover the felt you are attaching with a damp, clean cotton washcloth
and press with a hot iron (set to wool) for 15-20 seconds.
Just press with that iron, don't slide or you might move your pieces.

If you are using a really thin cloth try just 10 seconds.

You want that sizzle when the iron hits the cloth as the steam is going to melt the tape
 and fuse the fabric together.
You will need to occasionally re-wet your cloth.

Give it a little time to cool (30 seconds or so) and then make sure it bonded.
If it isn't then press again.

Repeat until all the rows are completed.

If you like you can flip over your wings so the inside is showing and trim the top and inner feathers.
This isn't necessary :)
Be sure not to trim the feather on the bottom/curved part!

Note: If for some reason things get really out of whack you can always re-press/steam and then remove the feather while the glue is still hot.  You'll need more hemming tape to re-stick it.

Picnik collage

What to do with these awesome and adorable wings?!

Attach them to a hoodie, add a few felt feathers to the front and maybe a cute face to the top
and you have a costume!
The same goes for a shirt or onesie.
Attach only at the top so the bottom has give for movement.

Attach to ribbon to wear cape-style as shown HERE
which was actually my inspiration for the whole project.

Wouldn't this be cute attached to a leotard,  feathers in the front or around the neck of the leopard,
with a tutu or fluffy tulle skirt?
Add a mask of felt and tulle or feathers to tie it all together.
Then take no less then 100 pictures and send me at least a dozen.

Picnik collage

I'm going to add it to an owl costume by cutting small slits in the top of the wings
for the buttons that will be on the costume body.
I'll sew or hot glue elastic for his wrists.
I wanted the wings to be removable because I'm not sure how well he'll like them for the duration
of both his birthday party on the 30th and Halloween itself.

I have no idea how long this took me as I did it piece by piece during nap time and after bedtime and whenever I could over the course of several days.

I hope you enjoy your wings!!

Here are some pictures of the finished product- they are taken from his birthday party and it was hot so we took off some of the pieces but he was ADORABLE!


  1. I can't wait to see it on Peanut!!

  2. Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is very helpful.
    Many thanks for sharing!
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  3. I'm going to make this for my nephew, thanks so much for your beautiful and crafty idea. M. Cecil

    1. If you don't mind the extra stiffness, you could just hot glue the feathers on!

  4. When you bought the felt by the yard, approximately how much did you have to buy?

  5. I love this!! I need wings for a school project and these are perfect and easy!! Thanks! :-)

  6. I am so happy to find this pattern. My granddaughter is going to be an owl for her musical program in early May. The school is a very small Catholic school, therefore they have a small amount of funds for the program. Checked on Etsy and found one but it was going to cost almost $70.00 with shipping and no mask. So you were a god send!!! Thanks so much for sharing this!!!



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