Textile Art · Tutorials

Fabric & Wire Butterfly: Tutorial

Tutorial for personal/educational use only. You may sell items made from this tutorial, but not the tutorial itself. Please do not republish this content on any other site without specific permission from me. Linking directly to this page using one of my images is okay. Thanks! 🙂 Rebecca

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1. Draw butterfly. Bend 0.5 mm floral wire into shape. I laid the wire down flat on the template and used a pencil (standing up on the paper) to help me mold the wire nicely around the curves. (Hope that makes sense!) Cut wire and twist.
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2. Sew wire wing to fabric. I used pale blue dupioni silk.
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3. Cut accent fabric and sew to wire. (In the middle of the wing, you can sew the accent fabric to the base fabric using invisible thread.) I used iridescent blue polyester chiffon.
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4. Cut another piece of accent fabric and repeat on other side of wing.
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5. With 3 strands of floss, satin stitch over wire. Do not knot the end of the floss, instead, stitch over the tail as you go. This adds a bit of padding and prevents unsightly knots. When you have about 2 inches of floss left, just take the needle out, re-thread it with a new length, and continue stitching over the new and old tails. Using an embroidery needle with a long eye will help keep your floss looking nice.
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6. You can vary the width of the satin stitch depending on what part of the wing you are on — the sides should be thicker than the top and bottom. I find it easiest to stitch from the inside to the outside of the wire. As you are working, check the underside to make sure the satin stitch looks okay and that you haven’t caught any extra fabric by accident.
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7. Here you can see the tails. If there are too many (3 groups of 3 strands) you can cut off the shortest (i.e. oldest) ones.
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8. Satin stitch done — cut off old tails before finishing satin stitch, thread last working tail backward into the satin stitch and cut.
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9. Cut out wing, clipping very close to the edge. Use very sharp, small scissors.
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10. In this case, the fabric is light and the edge is black, creating an obvious light fuzz around the edges. Color the edges with a permanent marker. You can trim any extra fuzz that sticks out, but make sure not to cut your satin stitch!
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11. Make mirror image second wing. Add beads or sequins to both sides of wing using invisible thread. (These seed beads are size 12, Mill Hill colors 03062, 00479, and 02009.)
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12. Each wing will have a better- and a worse-looking side of satin stitch (depending on your skill level 😉 ). The better side will face outside/down on the finished butterfly, and the worse side will face inside/up, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect 🙂
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13. Satin stitch the two wings together, hiding the tails as before. Antennae: Thread 3 strands floss up through the body of the butterfly (butt to head), taking a small backstitch through the head to secure. Twist or braid the three strands together, knot, and cut. Repeat for second antenna.
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Pink butterfly made exactly the same way, except DON’T COLOR THE EDGES WITH PERMANENT MARKER! (duh.) Beads are Mill Hill colors 02012, 03057, and 02011. Watch out for any bead colors whose packages specifically say that they will oxidize, if you want your project to still be pretty in ten years 😉
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14. Attach the thread for hanging by sewing through the wings and knotting as shown. You can either tie the other end directly to your mobile, or tie it to an s-hook.

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(Tutorial for mobile coming soon.)

 

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