DIY Insect or Butterfly Wings Tutorial!

Here’s a cheap and easy way to make a pair of amazing one of a kind wings for your costume or event outfit! This project took me approximately 1.5-2hours from start to finish, so it’s a simple last-minute addition to your ensemble. These can be painted to suit your Gothic Fairy costume or made with colored cellophane for a unique dragonfly or insect outfit. There are endless ways to make these your own!


-Cellophane. Not the shrinking kind, just regular sheet cellophane. I used a clear sort as I wanted natural wings but you can get all sorts of colors!

-Spray Glue. I used this sort as it’s what the shop by my house had. Any spray glue is probably fine for this.

-Cardstock. I used 2 sheets cut into halves (so 4 pieces layered). You can make any size of wings with this tutorial, just remember the structure has to be at least 3 sheets of cardstock thick or it won’t hold it’s shape.

-Retractable Blade Knifey Thing. Bought mine at the dollar store, it was fine.

-Chalk. I used chalk to draw the shape of the structure as once the spray glue hit it the chalk disappeared, leaving no lines/marks.

I used this tutorial on youtube as the starting point for these wings. My diy guide covers how I adapted and simplified this tutorial to make my wings, and shows you my in-process photos.


Take a minute to decide what sort of wings you are making. Look at illustrations of bug wings to choose your structure. I chose to make a simple pair of moth wings as I am not using them for a specific insect costume. There are tons of really stupid looking impractical “fairy” wings out there, and your outfit will look way better if your wings have a logical and believable structure to them. Think flight and wind, not curly q’s and swoops.


Take your sheets of cardstock outside and on a newspaper covered surface (or in the middle of the apartment building parking lot hahaha) spray one sheet with the spray glue until it looks wet then lay the next sheet on top. Remember your wing structure needs to be at least 3 sheets of cardstock thick or it won’t hold it’s shape! Mine was 4.


Take your time with this step as you want the structure to be excellent. I drew mine free-hand with chalk because I was rushed, you can see that both sides are not 100% identical in the finished photos. You can find templates for wing structures in the original youtube tutorial or you can print wing diagrams off of the internet. Take your chalk, draw the shape carefully on the cardstock.


Make sure you have a cutting mat or surface underneath your cardstock to do this. Scissors will not work for this, you do actually need a retractable knifey blade thingy or a craft knife to make the inside cuts cleanly. I used a recycled piece of illustration board as a cutting mat as there is always a lot of that in my apartment and my proper cutting mat was m.i.a. Since my black cardstock was 4 layers thick I had to score the design and then slowly cut through the scored lines, it takes a while but precision is important here. Tidy the edges with your blade so they are smooth and clean.


Lay your cellophane out on a flat surface. Take your cut out wing structure outside and spray both sides with spray glue. Bring it back inside and lay it carefully on the cellophane and then place another layer of cellophane on top. Press along the wing structure lines to adhere the cellophane to it. Trim the excess cellophane off of the edges, this does not have to be perfect yet, you just don’t want big pieces of cellophane hanging around being annoying.


Get your iron and set it at the lowest possible setting, no steam. You will need a flat surface to iron this and tissue paper (I used a sheet of iron-on transfer paper as I had some handy). Lay your wing down, tissue paper on top, and slowly iron the cellophane outwards. This will get it to cling to the structure and be more flat/clean. You don’t need to press super hard or go at it like crazy for this to work effectively. My cellophane was kind of junky and it has some wrinkles in the finish but they are not noticeable.


Take your retractable knifey thing and clean up the edges of the wings, trim off excess cellophane and a little of the cardstock for a perfect edge. Then you can attach your wings to your costume directly or to a mount of your choice. I used two lengths of ribbon that tie under my arms.

diy cellophane wing tutorial finished product

Voila! Easy wings that look amazing!


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