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Design and Make Your Own Wings with Mainsail Studio and Sprout Patterns

The Vanessa Butterfly Wing size large. Shown here with Cherry Blossom fabric by Mainsail Studio. 

Pretty amazing right? This was how you made custom fabric wings in 1981. These were designed, quilted and painted by Kathy Garvey.

I am so proud to announce that my Vanessa Butterfly Wings patterns are now available from Sprout Patterns.   If you aren’t yet familiar with Sprout Patterns, you are in for a big treat!  Sprout Patterns eliminates the need for a paper pattern which means you get to the fun part – sewing – faster.   In 1981 when my mother first started making her giant butterfly costumes she spent days working on each pair.  Each set required intricate applique or painting to represent the different sections of a butterfly wing.  I love the artistry in my mother’s wings but when Sprout Patterns was created in 2015, I knew there was finally a way to share my mother’s wing-making legacy with others.  The joy of creating these beautiful wings is now achievable for people with limited time and are new to sewing.   Sprout Patterns technology allows you to choose three different fabric designs from the tens of thousands of designs in the Spoonflower fabric library for your wings, without any fancy applique, painting or other complicated techniques.  The design interface is easy enough for kids to use – try it – it’s free to test your ideas and save your butterfly designs to purchase later or just for fun.

design interface

The Vanessa Butterfly Wing design interface at Sprout Patterns.

You can even share online designs with members of the Sprout Community.   My daughter loves designing wings and clothes on Sprout Patterns.  She says it’s like a fashion design game only better – “because you can really make the stuff if you want to.”  Sprout Patterns has created a wonderful video explaining the design process – seen here:  How to Sprout


mainsail studio mail

Grace loves designing clothes with Sprout Patterns. She runs to the mailbox when her fabric arrives. Shown here – Brindille and Twig leggings with Mainsail Studio peacock fabric.

If you purchase a set of wings, Sprout Patterns will mail you a printed fabric panel, exactly the way you designed them.  While you wait for your fabric to arrive in the mail you can download and read the fully illustrated instructions and purchase your other supplies (interfacing, thread and elastic).  When the fabric arrives you will be ready to just cut and start sewing.   The instructions were written for an experienced beginner.  I’ve included all of my tips and tricks for making wings sewing fast and easy!  This includes a wonderful technique for easy sewing with plush minky fabric.  (Minky wings are so soft and snuggly!)  Within an hour or two you will have sewn your very own set of wings.

Since I am a “brand new” pattern designer, I’ve included here on my blog a sample of the Vanessa Butterfly Wing sewing pattern.  It includes just a few pages so that you will get a glimpse of the quality of my instructions. Vanessa Butterfly Wing instruction preview.

The Vanessa Wing is a double-sided butterfly wing with an optional layer of fleece interfacing. The wings are worn “backpack style” with elastic shoulder and wrist straps. The Vanessa Wing is perfect for active kids who love imaginary play and creative adults who are young at heart.

These wings look adorable with a pair of jeans and casual tee or fancy them up with a tutu and accessories. They are perfect for tossing in the dress up box, the imaginary play center or for use as a Halloween costume. They also look adorable paired with flower girl dresses at your garden wedding.

Flower Fairy Costumes

Brindille and Twig t-shirt dresses and leggings with the Annabel Fairy Wing (fairy wings are coming soon) .

Sharing these patterns with the sewing community has been a dream of mine that started when I was teaching art and realized that hearing the excitement of kids saying “I made this!” was even more rewarding than selling my work and saying “I made this.”   Finding a way to share my patterns and techniques with people who may not have the graphic design skills to create their own custom wing fabrics became my mission.    From 2013-2015 I had to take a break from teaching and making to have a little fight with ovarian cancer (I’m fine now).  I had a lot of time to dream and plan for “someday” when these wings would be possible.  I even shopped around for an app-developer to create some technology for me.   It was one of the best days when I learned Sprout Patterns was “born” last October.   Their technology was exactly what I needed to make the dream happen.  I’m so proud to be a part of the Sprout Patterns collective.  I hope you enjoy your Vanessa Butterfly Wings.  My dragon wings and tails and fairy wings are coming soon.  Be sure to explore the patterns from the amazing Sprout Patterns Partners.  Using their clothing patterns you can create full-body costumes to coordinate with your wings.  Everything from dresses and skirts to hoodies and leggings.   One of my favorite combinations is the Brindille and Twig Tee Shirt Dress with the Brindille and Twig Leggings .
The See Kate Sew Viewfinder Tee with a handmade tutu would also be just precious for a little girl who loves a bit of dress-up glamour.

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