handymommy,  projects,  sewing

A Stitch in Time: Butterfly Costume Tutorial

Last month Sofie had a Christmas show in school and  had to wear furry animal costumes, so of course my daughter chose to be a doll butterfly. Yep, not just any butterfly but a doll butterfly. Basically she wanted a stuffed butterfly doll costume. I tried to convince her to be a panda, or a lion or a puppy but “No, that’ll not work” she said. Why walk when you can fly, right?
After much googling and looking for butterfly costume tutorials, the  Handy Mommy in me made a little trip to the fabric store. I saw some really nice fabric but have no idea what it’s called, it’s stretch, metallic and comes in pink & brown, the kind you would use for a body suit. I’m pretty sure there’s some technically correct way of going about this project, but for a person without any sewing background, no butterfly costume pattern, and no idea what a doll butterfly costume looks like, I had to make do. So, here’s what I needed to make a doll butterfly costume for a 3.7 foot princess. 

  • 1/2 yard pink metallic fabric
  • 1/2 yard brown metallic fabric 
  • 1/2 yard tulle
  • 4″ by 12″ tetron or lining fabric
  • 1/2 yard polyester fiber fill (available in fabric stores)
  • 2 pcs pink pipe cleaners attached to pink headband
  • 8 pcs brown  pipe cleaners (Office warehouse)
  • matching threads
  • other embellishments (optional)
  • store bought butterfly wings ;-0
**Important if using a sewing machine, use large needles that can penetrate through the fabric. According to the fabric store lady, the larger the needle, the smaller the needle number. So a large eyed needle would be somewhere in the 10/70 range. I only knew about this after the fact, my sewing machine needle was 14/90 and it did not work on the fabric.Another epic fail, I think NOT! I ended up doing everything by hand. Yep, with my FREAKING BARE HANDS!
Now with this butterfly costume tutorial, I’m not really sticking to any sewing rule layed out by sewing and couture gurus. It’s what worked for me so that’s what I did;-)
1. Measure your butterfly princess’ torso width and length. I found an easier way by making a pattern using my kids bathing suit. For the front, lay it on a piece of pattern paper and trace around the shape of the bathing suit, include about 2 inches allowance to make it fit just right. For the back portion, fold the suit in the middle lengthwise and make a pattern for the back part. Cut your fabric according to you “pattern”, front and back and lay them out like you are assembling a puzzle. 
2. Next thing to work on, the front of the butterfly that shows the legs and abdomen. Using a 4″ by 12″ brown fabric and tetron, I cut it into a sort of elongated oval for the abdomen. I cut about 4 pieces of the pink fabric, about 4 inches long and half an inch thick to represent the lines in the abdomen. I sew the edges of the brown fabric leaving a small opening for the stuffing. I then used my pink stripes, making them into rings to divide the abdomen.  I also used about 8 pieces of pipe cleaners,tucked at the end of each pink stripe to serve as the legs. Can’t picture it? Imagine a burnt hot dog with pink stripes and fuzzy legs. Sew this on the front panel of the costume. 
3. For the frills, measure strips of fabric at about 6 inches thick and about twice the width of the back part of the costume. For my daughter I did 2 long pieces each of brown & pink fabric, 6 inches thick and about 20 inches long. I lined the inside with polyester fiber fill, it’s up to you to choose the desired thickness, mine is about 1/2 inch. You can go gaga over this and add as much frills as the fabric allows. 
Are you following me so far? Check out the photos below 😉
By this time you would have already cut and sewn the different parts of your doll butterfly costume. I prefer to look at it as puzzle pieces to keep me from going bonkers and eventually giving up. So, forward we go!
4. Start working on the back portion of the costume by attaching the frills in the bottom area. I used a running stitch across the length of my tulle, brown and pink frills then pulled the thread to make the ruffles. When the frills are done, I attached them on to the bottom of the costume. Sew on the frills on the right side of the fabric making sure that the stitches are hidden by the longer portion of the frill. This is very useful, specially if hand sewing.  Alternate between the brown fabric, the tulle, the pink fabric and then the tulle again. I also added an additional pink and tulle frill in the front panel to serve as a tutu. 
5. Now you would have the front and back panel ready, it’s time to attach them by sewing the seams. For hand stitching I used double back stitch all over the sides and finished with a blanket stitch. I did not bother putting edging on the neckline, arm holes and legs since the fabric I used doesn’t fray. Looks like I remembered something from my grade school home economics eh!
So there it is, Sofia’s doll butterfly costume. After about 3 days of suffering a pinpricks I was able to finish everything before her school show. To show her appreciation my kid gave her perfunctory oohhh and aahhhh and then told me that she wanted a duck costume. Of course! Sure! Why not!


  • michi

    i will say "WOW", tiyaga mo talaga sa DIY project, i don't have sewing skill so i don't think i can do this, napaisip na tuloy ko pag nagschool na ang anak ko this june, paano na pag may costume. hehe!

  • anney

    Ang ganda ganda naman! I love the costume! Ang cute ni Sophia sa costume! Yung pamangkin kong si Ykaie ginawan ko din ng costume para sa christmas party naman nila. Snow girl naman yun.hihi!