Tutorial: Reflective Angel Wings (Halloween Costume)

It seems like most folks who are into sewing and crafting also love dressing up for Halloween. I’m kind of the exception, I guess–I’m always the one ten minutes before the party thinking “Don’t I have an old prom dress around here somewhere? I guess I could be…um…a girl in an old prom dress…”

This year, however, I’ll be going to Messmann’s Messquerade, a costumed Halloween scavenger hunt. Messmann’s been throwing this race for years, but this year he’s kindly agreed to throw it as a fundraiser for the North American Cycle Courier Championships, so you should show up and race and party and have a hell of a good time to support this noble cause.

As I was trying to think of a good costume (let’s face it–just a costume, good or not), I had a flash (ha!) of genius. What if I brought my new obsession with visibility to bear on the problem?

And so was born the Reflective Angel Wings:

I went to Michael’s craft store this afternoon and found a pair of closeout white wings. (And a wand!) If you wanted to be extra-crafty, you could easily bend some wire in the shape of wings, since I’m going to show you how to cover them with fabric.

I have had this shiny silver knit fabric hanging around my stash since high school, and I always told myself it’d come in handy some day. Today, friends, is that day.

I tried a couple sheer black knits I have, thinking I’d go for a dark angel look, but they didn’t have quite the interest that the silver did.

Covering a wire set of wings is pretty easy. Basically, you stitch up a tube 4-5″ longer than your wings that angles (angles/angels/angles–gonna have to really proof this before I hit publish) from the widest point to the narrowest point. I did this through trial and error, and tried it on probably three times before it seemed right to me.

When you try it on, it should fit snuggly. Like this:

(You can see the seam along in the back.)

Use a needle and thread to gather the excess fabric on the top of the wing so that it becomes taut. You may have to go around a couple of times. Wrap the tail of the thread around the fabric bunch, then backtack a few stitches to secure it, but don’t break the thread.

Cut off the excess fabric, then tack it down so it’s more or less smooth.

Repeat for the bottom of the wing. When you’re done, it should look like this:

I used 3M Scotchlight reflective fabric ribbon for this project, cut into 1/4″ strips. I used Stitch Witchery tape to secure it down before sewing it. (You know about Stitch Witchery, right? Right?)

When wrapping my second wing, I nearly did it the same direction, but fortunately I caught myself in time. What would I have done with 2 right wings?

When both wings were done, I sewed a bit of oilcloth between them to fasten them together, adding the elastic to the inside like so:

I asked my lovely dress form to model them for me. She was ever so obliging.

(Why, yes–she is wearing a cycling bolero and a reflective inner tube belt! Thank you for noticing. Both are available at the Etsy shop.)

What will you be for Halloween? Will it be cycling-friendly? Or at least cycling-proof?

Do tell!

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