Cosplay Companion: Modifying Fairy Wings

With New York Comic Con and Halloween approaching, ‘tis the season for cosplay and costumes! I am sure some of you will be using costumes that involve wings; fairy wings, angel wings, or perhaps steampunk or robotic-type wings. I am working on a Tinker Bell cosplay for NYCC myself, and quickly came to the decision that store bought wings stink. I bought my cheap, small wings on Amazon, and while the quality leaves much to be desired the biggest issue I have with my wings are the unsightly shoulder straps!

This is not exactly my first time wearing wings; I was frequently a fairy for Halloween as a child, and an angel maybe five years ago. And every time, I have utterly loathed the shoulder straps on my wings. They are uncomfortable, break the line of my costume and its illusion of other-worldliness, and don’t seem to do a good job at their only job: keeping the wings in place. As I began researching how to make my own custom wings (back before I realized I did not have to time to make my own) it dawned on me that I could easily modify a pair of simple, store-bought, shoulder-strapped wings and make a sort of handle-harness for them.

It took me only 45 minutes to put this together, using things I already had in the house thanks to other costumes I’ve made/am planning to make. Here is what you need!

  • 1 wire coat hanger
  • 1 sheet of craft foam, EVA foam, or a yoga mat you don’t care about (Thickness of foam is your choice! I used a 3/8” thick sheet)
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Tape: gaffers, electric, painters, or duct (I used gaffers)
  • Wings, of course!

All right, so here is what we start with:

Cut off the elastic straps on the wings, as close as you can to the base. Then use the wire cutters to cut off the twisty top part of the hanger.

Straighten the hanger out as best you can using pliers and your hands- I recommend wearing a pair of gloves if you have them, because the edges of the hanger are sharp and I got a few bloody cuts on my hands while working!

Bend the hanger in half, so the two ends meet and the overall shape is like a long, narrow U. The bend the cut edge forward, making two hook shapes. You’ll ultimately be attaching the back of the wings to those hooks, and sliding the U-shape down the back of your outfit!

You’ll want to temporarily tape the wings in place to try the ‘harness’ on and check for the length you need to be comfortable. Make sure you test your motion: bending forward, sitting, and crouching to pick something up, etc. To make sure you won’t be sliding the harness around too much, or getting poked uncomfortably in the back. Re-bend and trim the hanger as needed. Here is the first round of shaping:

Now once you have the needed length figured up, tape that U part of the handle to help it keep shape, and to give something for you to attach the foam to.

Next, cut out a rectangle and oval from the foam sheet; the rectangle will be against your back; the oval should match the wing base you’re attaching the harness to (obviously if your wing base is a different shape, do that!). I used a 3×5” rectangle for my back panel, and just freehanded the oval. I should have made the oval a little cleaner, but no one will really see it anyway!

Tape up that U shape more thoroughly if you need to secure the shape better before this next part! Next, glue that rectangle to the middle of the U-rod of the harness. I traced where the U-rod would go on the foam and then covered that area in hot glue. I pressed the foam firmly against the tape, and once that cooled/dried, I glued around the border of the foam and the harness to help secure it.

Next, do the exact same thing with the oval piece and the wing base:

And that’s all there is to it! You slide the U-rod down the back of your dress/shirt and you’re done. I’m wearing a very stretchy jersey-material shirt in the below images and had a little trouble with the weight of the harness pulling on my shirt. However my final dress will be a form-fitting satin with little stretch, and I think it will stay in place well. If not, I’ll sew a small trap onto the back of the bra I’ll wear and slide the harness through that, providing additional stabilization.

And here it is! Super comfy and non-cumbersome. I hope you give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Happy NYCC, everyone; I’ll see you there!


One thought on “Cosplay Companion: Modifying Fairy Wings

  • September 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Love the photos! They really.make the steps clear!


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