504 Main by Holly Lefevre: The Monarchs Have Arrived: How To Make a Butterfly Skirt
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Monday, October 8, 2012

The Monarchs Have Arrived: How To Make a Butterfly Skirt

Every year this little town of Pacific Grove, CA is host to the Butterfly Parade.
The parade welcomes the Monarch butterflies to the city, their winter home.
It also gives the elementary school children the opportunity to march in the parade dressed as lady bugs, sea otters, moon jellies, clowns, and patriots,
but the true attraction is the kindergartners all dressed as Monarch Butterflies.
It is a sight that even makes me cynical heart sing.

My boy walked in the parade 6 years ago, but this year it was my girlie's turn. She was so excited and wanted to wear something special. We also happened to be discussing Halloween at the same time...so like any good mother would do, I struck a deal.

With the hubby not working right now, the $100 fairy costumes were a bit extravagant...and I was trying tot talk her out of it...Then she wanted some new boots. The boots were only $20...so I had an idea...
"How about being a Monarch Butterfly Fairy for Halloween?"
Then you can wear the skirt for the parade...
and I already have the supplies to make the skirt...
so then you can get your boots.

Following me? I am not above wheeling and dealing with my kids!

I knew I wanted to make a skirt and then stumbled upon this AMAZINGLY CUTE idea on for a twirly butterfly skirt on The Train To Crazy. I pinned it and waited and then got sewing (sort of).
photo from The Train to Crazy
FIRST: I will direct you to The Train To Crazy for the tutorial. This is where I got the idea for this skirt and the tutorial is great. If you refer to The Train to Crazy and Made (see references below) you will see great photos. My intent here is to tell you what I did differently - this was not my original idea. 

I did make a few adjustments (because I always do) and I could do a tutorial for a circle skirt (I did make patterns in the fashion industry for 10 years)... 
BUT there is no point in reinventing the wheel.

Here are the supplies I used and the tweaks I made to the process. I had no intention of blogging about this so I took very few tutorial photos.

  • 1-2 Yards of black felt  (about $6.00/yard). You can probably get by with one yard if you position the wings just right. My girl is 5 and has about a 19" waist. We had 9 wings on the final skirt. I could have added 2 more for more fullness...and still might.
  • 1 yard orange felt or other fabric. I used some pre-cut yardage from Walmart
  •  Heat N Bond (Ultra)
  • White Puffy Paint
  • 1 yard (or less) 2" Elastic
  • Black Thread
  • You will need a sewing machine (or sew by hand) and an iron/ironing board.

1. Use the pattern and cut out 9 to 11 (or more as needed) wings from the black felt.

2. Cut manageable size squares of the orange fabric.

3. Follow the directions on the Heat N Bond and adhere it to the back side of the orange fabric.
4. Cut shapes out of orange (I just free-handed the shapes - they look best irregular anyway). I cut a few out, placed the on a few wing at a time and then cut more pieces to fit into the "puzzle."

5. Once happy, peel backing off the Heat N Bond and iron into place.
NOTE: I am not intending this skirt to be machine washed, so I am not concerned about the exposed edges or fraying, but the Heat N Bond adheres the fabrics really well and on other projects I have used this same method and had no issues. Appliqueing the pieces is also possible.

6. I did not make a circle skirt as a base to this skirt. My girlie just wore long bike shorts/leggings under it. This tutorial for a circle skirt from Made is excellent if you want to make a skirt, or for more directions in attaching the elastic, etc.

7. Layout your wings with each one overlapping the other by about 1/2". Run a basting stitch around the top of the wings.

8. Cut elastic 2" larger than the waist - 1" for give and 1" for seam allowance.

9. Sew elastic together, then fold elastic flat (see MADE tutorial) and stitch down each side.

10. Pin wings to the elastic. I pinned at center front and center back and then the sides. Then stretch the elastic and pin at the points in between.

11. Sew elastic to skirt wings - You need to stretch the elastic when sewing. I used a straight stitch and 1/2" seam allowance.

12.Trim threads and lay flat on a surface with the wings spread out. Depending on your wings, you may have to do this in multiple steps...

13. Use the puffy paint to make polka dots on the wings. My dots are not as opaque as I intended but I was in a time crunch (yep, I waited until the last minute). After accenting my wings, I went back and made a few of the dots larger. 

14. My dots were dry in about 6 hours and I had a super cute skirt for my girl.

Sorry I do not have a lot of photos but AGAIN, if you refer to The Train to Crazy and Made you will see great photos. My intent here is to tell you what I did differently.

The skirt was a huge hit with her and her friends. 

She twirled in it...

She ate cupcakes in it...

She marched and waved to the crowd...

 This post is written and created at 504 Main by Holly Lefevre


  1. Anonymous6:27 AM

    That is absolutely precious! Jules looks adorable and I love it. What a fun parade.

  2. Oh my gosh that sweet girl is so cute...and the skirt's not to shabby either! LOL

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in Creative Busy Bee Craft Inspirations, under the Page 1 post on Oct. 08, 2012. Thanks again.

  4. So cute Holly. Just precious!

  5. What a little angel face!! Sweet costume, great job!

  6. Absolutely adorable! We went to a parade like that one time and I loved it. The costume is just the cutest!

  7. That costume is totally fantastic! I am super impressed! My daughter would've loved to wear that when she was little!

  8. This is absolutely adorable! My little girl would love it. And your daughter is just too cute!

  9. So cute! Looks like she had a great day :)

  10. Holly, this is so fabulous I can NOT get over it!!! Your daughter looks adorable! xoxo

  11. She was by far the cutest little butterfly there, Holly!

  12. I tell you Holly, if I had a little girl! :) Love this

  13. OMG Holly your costume is amazing. I'm pinning your post because I might make one in grown up size for myself.

  14. My head is going to explode at how stunning this is! You are one cool Momma to made this for your little girl :)

  15. Gorgeous, Holly! You did an amazing job!


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