Dollar Store Fairy Wings Makeover

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Here we are with Part Two of the things I made for my youngest daughter’s Butterfly-Fairy-themed birthday party.

Part One was the Easy DIY Fairy Crown, but you just can’t be a fairy without wings, now can you? 

There are ways of making your own fairy wings completely from scratch, and I did indeed do two pairs like that; one for the birthday girl, and one for her older sister. They are, however, a lot of work, and I didn’t fancy doing that six more times. If that’s the kind of tutorial you are looking for, I highly recommend the YouTube tutorial by Freckles Fairy Chest, from which I actually got the know-how to make these.

If you want to spend less time and money on some fairy wings that you will only use once, I think this is the way to go.

For this project, you will need:

  • A set of ready-made fairy wings from the dollar store (I found mine at Dollar Tree)
  • White, taupe, or black pantyhose (only use black if you are making darker wings, and knee-highs are quite sufficient for small wings)
  • Electrical tape
  • Design Master spray paint in the colour(s) of your choice (MUST be this brand)
  • Glitter in the colour(s) of your choice
  • Elmer’s School Glue (MUST be this brand and type)
  • Ribbons
  • Gems (optional)
  • Felt (optional)
  • Faux Flowers (optional)

Here is one of the sets of wings I bought:

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Step 1: Remove everything from the wire frames.

As you can see, dollar store stuff isn’t high quality, and if you want to resolve any lack-of-symmetry issues, now is the time. The wire is thin and rather easy to bend by hand.

Step 2: Cover each wing section, one at a time, with a new knee-high pantyhose sock. Pull taut, cut off the excess, and secure with tightly-wrapped electrical tape. As you can see in the photo below, you will have a top wing piece and a bottom wing piece.

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Apparently, cheap white pantyhose are readily available in America, but I looked EVERYWHERE, and all I could find were taupe knee-highs with reinforced toes (at Walmart, BTW). The taupe colour isn’t a problem, and as it turns out, reinforced toes aren’t, either. You can just put extra glitter over those parts later and it looks totally normal.

Step 3: (This is where it starts to get really fun) Spray paint your wings!

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I chose these colours for the party because they match the colours of the ready-made flower crowns Michaels was selling, but the full range of Design Master spray paint colours is extensive!

The only place in Canada (that I found) that carries this special spray paint is Michaels. The full name of the product, as printed on the label, is Design Master Colortool Spray Versatile Surface Color. You have to use this brand because all others will actually melt your pantyhose. Design Master is apparently so delicate that you can even spray it on live flowers for floral arrangements!

The best method I found for applying the spray paint was to put a disposable rubber glove (like a dish glove) on my left hand, hold the centre of the wing section in that gloved hand, and then hold the can of spray paint in my right hand and spray the wings all over. When I had achieved the coverage I wanted, I hung the wing section on a tree branch to dry. (It is helpful to do this in early spring, before the leaves are out on the trees).

In order to avoid the fumes, I walked while spraying, keeping the wind at my back. I must have looked funny, walking backwards all over my yard, spraying wing after wing, but oh well! You should be aware that this spray paint smells very perfume-y, so if you have scent allergies, wear a vapour mask.

Step 4: Decorate your wings! (I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of this part) When the paint has dried, get out your glitter and glue! If you can find a glitter glue in the exact colour you want, great! You’ll be finished even faster!

But for the rest of us: use the Elmer’s School Glue to draw lines onto the wings like the patterns on butterfly wings. Work on just one wing at a time, and I highly recommend working outside on a non-windy day.

I also advise using a large sheet of poster paper underneath the wings, to catch the extra glitter. If you are concerned about your ability to draw neat glue lines free-hand, trace your wings and make a life-sized sketch of what you want your wing patterns to look like. Look at photos of real butterfly wings to get ideas. When you are happy with your sketch, trace over it with a black sharpie marker. Place the wing exactly on top of your drawn lines, and you should be able to see the lines through the pantyhose! Simply trace them with the glue.

You may be wondering, Why does it HAVE to be Elmer’s School Glue? Well, I started out using this glue because it was what I had handy. When I ran out, I went to the closest store (Shopper’s) to buy more glue, and saw that their brand of white glue was cheaper. Thinking I would save myself a few bucks, I bought that stuff, took it home, and started to use it. Instant disaster! The non-Elmer’s glue had a thinner formula! Not only did it not hold a strong, smooth line; it also started to soak through into the bottom layer of pantyhose and onto my poster paper. I had to immediately wash it off, let that wing dry, and start over. I also tried Elmer’s Glue-All, since it comes in a bigger bottle, and that didn’t work as well either. So just trust me on this.

Making a single line of glue will give you a fine line; going over it a second time will give you a stronger line. I went over all of my lines twice because I wanted the stronger line.

Once you have made all the glue lines you want on a single wing, sprinkle your glitter generously over the glue. When the container empties, lift the wing, gently shake and tap it so the excess glitter falls onto your poster paper, set the wing aside, and pour the glitter off of the paper and back into the glitter container. Repeat as needed. I found that small wings like these needed less than one 425g jar of glitter (but that’s the smallest size you can buy it in at Michaels, at least for the colours I wanted).

Place the wings somewhere that they can lay flat and remain undisturbed overnight, while they dry fully.

When dry, use more electrical tape to attach the top and bottom wing sections.

Step 5: Cut two lengths of ribbon. The ribbons need to be long enough to be tied around the body as straps to hold the wings on. You can decide if you want to tie the straps like a backpack, or criss-cross them across the chest. Hot-glue the ribbons in place on the back side of the wings.

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If you want straps that won’t show as much, use clear elastic (available at fabric stores).

Step 6: Make sure the straps won’t break off by securing them with more electrical tape.

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Step 7: Cover the electrical tape. You can use a strip of felt, or more ribbon. I used felt because it was faster, easier, and would provide more grip for the faux flowers I was going to glue on next.

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Step 8: Hot-glue on some faux flowers. I used the same ones that I had used on each matching Fairy Crown.

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And you’re finished!

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SO much prettier than the ones at the dollar store!

See how I mostly covered up the reinforced toe areas with more glitter? It doesn’t even look forced or unnatural!

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All the wings for the birthday guests.

And if you wanted to add faux gems. . .

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It’s a bit blurry, but you can see where I added some gems to the birthday girl’s completely-handmade-wings wing tips. I REALLY love how hers turned out! You can also see that I wrapped the centre section of these wings with ribbon, not felt and flowers.

I believe I went through two containers of glitter for wings this size, so bear that in mind if you want to make something similar. I did, however, put glitter lines on both sides of these wings, so that’s probably why.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Up next: the birthday party!

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