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How to Make Fabric Butterflies in Minutes / Origami Fabric Tutorial

I’m so incredibly excited by this project! I can see they DIY fabric butterflies in silver and white on Christmas trees; white or pale-yellow ones floating suspended on invisible fishing line in the garden with fairy lights to give a magical effect, attached to girls scrunchies, as pretty décor on parcels, or as place name holders. Each butterfly takes just a few minutes to make.

how to make a butterfly

You can decorate them with the tiny but beautiful bits of lace that you haven’t been able to throw away, and the eyes on the butterfly wings can be made from odd beads and sequins you have been saving.

lace fabric butterfly

Below you will find my step by step written tutorial how to make a butterfly with fabric along with VIDEO instructions for all the visual learners.

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How to make a fabric butterfly

Origami Butterfly Supplies and tools

making fabric butterfly supplies and tools

  • fabric – 2 coordinating pieces of cotton fabric (one patterned, one plain) – 5 x 3.5″ (13 x 9cm)each
  • matching thread
  • scissors (or rotary cutter and a cutting mat)
  • hand sewing needle and thread
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • iron and ironing board
  • sewing clips or pins
  • sewing machine

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How to Sew a fabric butterfly

Watch the diy fabric butterfly video first and then follow the written step by step instructions below.
Please enjoy and don’t forget to Like and SUBSCRIBE over on YouTube to be kept up to date with new videos as they come out.

ORIGAMI FABRIC BUTTERFLY VIDEO TUTORIAL

FABRIC BUTTERFLY INSTRUCTIONS:

STEP 1: Cut fabrics

Cut out two 5-inch by 3.5-inch (13 x 9cm) rectangles for this butterfly. Use two different colors, or patterns that mix and match, for the rectangles, to get an effective contrast when you fold the butterfly.

cutting fabrics according to the fabric butterfly pattern

You can make larger or smaller butterflies but just need to remember if you are scaling that the length is 70% of the height.

  • To scale up the 5 x 3.5-inch butterfly you would choose a height – say 6 inches and using a calculator multiply by .7 giving you 4.2 inches.
    (If you are using metric measurements that would be 15cm, multiply that by 0.7 giving you 10.5cm, so cut your fabrics 15 x 10.5cm)
  • To make it smaller – say 4 inches multiply 4 x .7 = 2.8 inches.
    (METRIC: 10 cm height multiplied by 0.7 = 7cm, cut fabrics 10 x 7cm)

STEP 2: Pin

Place the two rectangles right side to right side and line them up, then make a 2-inch (5cm) mark on the long end of the rectangle. Pin

origami butterfly pinned fabrics

STEP 3: Sew

Proceed to sew from the lower edge of the mark ¼ inch (6mm) from the edge, back tacking when you start.

When you reach the corner, at ¼ inch (6mm) from the edge make sure the needle is down, then release the presser foot so you can swing the fabric without losing your stitch position. Repeat until you have worked your way right around the rectangle and are back at the upper edge of the opening where you will back tack and cut the threads.

STEP 4: Trim corners

Carefully trim across all four corners, taking care not to cut too close to the stitch line. This gets rid of excess fabric that could make your corners look bulky.

sew around the fabrics

STEP 5: Turn around

Turn the fabric right way out by pulling through the gap left on the long side of the fabric. Use a knitting needle or chop-stick to poke out the corners and run it along the seams to make sure they lie flat.

STEP 6: Iron

When you are satisfied that the seams have been pushed out and the corners are neatly flattened, iron the rectangle, making sure the edges at the gap are neatly turned in so no raw edges show.

STEP 7: Topstitch

Make sure the color thread matches the main fabric color, and if using for example a red print on the front and a white print at the back that you thread your machine with red on the machine and white on the bobbin so the colors blend with the fabric. Back at the machine, starting at the middle of the gap run a row of top-stitching all the way around the edge of the rectangle, 1/8 inch (3mm) from the edge, sewing across the gap, whose edges have been turned in and pressed, and back tacking at start and finish, so you have a sealed rectangle. Trim all the loose threads.

topstitched rectangle

STEP 8: Sew

Thread a hand sewing needle with a piece of thread that will match the color of the front print on the butterfly, make it about 26 inches long, and pull through so the ends meet. Make a knot in the two ends so you have a double thread that is 13 inches long. Set aside while you fold the butterfly.

STEP 9: Fold 1

fabric origami butterfly folding

  • Place the shorter end of the rectangle horizontal with the bottom of your worktable and wrong side on top (img1).
  • Fold the rectangle in half from the bottom up, line up the corners neatly, then finger press the fold (2).
  • Now fold in half again from right to left, lining up the corners. You now have a small rectangle with the folded corner in the lower right-hand side. Finger press the right-hand side fold (3).
  • Lifting the top layer from the top left-hand side with one hand, keeping a finger on the other three layers, open out the fold to the right so a triangular pocket is formed (4).
  • Make sure the edges line up at the top and then holding the left-hand lower side of the fabric flip over, lay flat and take the top right corner and fold to the left, creating another triangular pocket at the bottom, lining up the edges neatly (5).

Step 11: Make the wings

  • fabric origami butterfly making the wingsYou now have a piece of fabric that is triangular at the bottom and rectangular at the top (5). The video shows this clearly, making it easy to follow.
  • Where the fabric splits at the center, take the fold to the right-hand side and bend it downward, creating another triangular pocket whose opening is facing to the right and lining up the fold with the center, but pulling it down slightly more, as this will make the lower butterfly wing slightly larger than the upper one and give that top folded wing more of an angle – making for a realistic butterfly shape (6).

Step 12: Stitch the wing

Securing the origami wing in place involves still keeping a hold on the folds, but turning the half-folded butterfly over so you can use your previously threaded needle to make three small stitches very close to each other ½ an inch (12mm) from the edge, on the lower wing side. The stitches must reach all the way through to the front, but not through the bent upper part of the wing. Finish off and clip the thread, then make a knot in the thread ready to stitch the second half and set aside.

Step 12: Stitch the other wing

Flip over the half-finished butterfly to the front and taking the fold on the left-hand side of the center split, pull it down to create a triangular pocket, lining it up so it matches the right side of the butterfly(7).

Stitch the left-hand wing in place as you did in the previous step.

Step 13: (optional) Handsew

fabric butterfly comparison side by side of 2 cloth butterflies

unstitched triangle bottom piece (left) vs stitched (right) – view from back side

To finish the butterfly, take the folded triangle in the center between the wings and fold upward to meet the point between the wings and secure in place with a couple of stitches(img8).

cloth butterfly with gift behind it

That’s it your fabric butterfly is ready!

DIY Fabric Butterflies FAQs, Tips and Troubleshooting:

Q: At which point do I add lace to my fabric?

A: On one of the rectangular pieces add a piece of lace centrally place horizontally along the longer side of the rectangle. Pin in position and stitch down on each side of the lace, then proceed with Steps 2 to 13.

Q: How do I secure the butterfly to an elastic hair tie?

A: Complete the butterfly to step 12, then when you flip up the bottom triangle, flip it over the hair elastic and stitch in place. The hair elastic should be able to slide freely through the gap.

origami fabric butterflies

Q: How do I secure the butterfly to a scrunchie?

A: In the case of a scrunchie compete the butterfly to step 12 then stitch it secure to the scrunchie, working through the center of the butterfly. You can decorate with a few beads along what would be the body of the butterfly with a couple of beads to hide the stitches – two rounded beads for head and thorax and a longer one for the abdomen would be perfect.

Q: How do I secure the butterfly to make it a hanging Christmas ornament?

A: If using ribbon, then simply stitch a folded piece of ribbon to the back of the butterfly, securing the ends of the ribbon neatly. If using a piece of fishing line then it would be better to secure a tiny ring – available from bead and craft shop to the back with a few stitches, then tie the fine fishing line to the ring and preferably singe the ends of the line, so it doesn’t come undone.

Q: How can I make feelers for the butterfly?

A: Take a piece of wire and thread with tiny beads, bending over the ends with a pair of pliers, or use a colored pipe cleaner bent into a v shape and curled at the end then stitch either the beaded wire or the pipe cleaner to the central point of the butterfly.

 

The origami fabric butterfly is a beautiful little project and is so quick to make – the longer part is reading through the step-by-step fabric butterflies tutorial – but once you have made one you can line up your fabrics and make dozens of them taking only a few minutes for each one. If you were inspired by this post then subscribe to receive news straight to your inbox full of fun and seasonal sewing projects that use up all those tiny bits of fabric in beautifully creative ways.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 24 comments
Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs - November 14, 2021

These are adorable! And what a fab tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing with #MMBC.:)

Reply
    Helen - January 22, 2022

    Aren’t they the best! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Jayne!

    Reply
Nancy Jones - January 5, 2022

These are great! I’ve been making memory bears out of shirts, so I have lots of scraps. I simply serge around one piece of fabric and leave a loop. So cute and fast. My friend lost her husband, and she hangs the memory butterfly from the mirror in her car. And since percentages seem to bother those that don’t love math like I do, just write down the multiples of 7 (notice each one grows by 7 if you prefer to add):
1×7=7, 2×7=14, 3×7=21, 4×7=28, 5×7=35, 6×7=42, 7×7=49, 8×7=56, 9×7=63. The width is
1x.7, 2×1.4, 3×2.1, 4×2.8, 5×3.5, 6×4.2, 7×4.9, 8×5.6, 9×6.3

Reply
    Helen - January 22, 2022

    It’s great for gift giving! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Nancy!
    And thank you for sharing this quick tip, I’m sure many of the readers don’t love math as much as you and I do 🙂

    Reply
Michele Morin - January 17, 2022

I can certainly see why you are so excited about this project!

Reply
    Helen - January 22, 2022

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog and projects. Thank you for sharing that with me, Michele!

    Reply
Esmé Slabbert - January 20, 2022

You are so artsy and I love the craft you do. As you said, I can see these butterflies in the garden and floating in the soft wind. #SeniorSalonPitStop @esmesalon

Reply
    Helen - January 22, 2022

    You’re welcome, Esme! Thanks for sharing your incredible review! Your ideas sounds like something I should definitely try

    Reply
Sarah-Marie - January 21, 2022

These look fabulous. I think I may need to make a few to add to my Easter Tree! #PoCoLo

Reply
    Helen - January 22, 2022

    It really is fabulous and works great in so many different ways! Please let me know what you think of the tutorial when you make your butterflies!

    Reply
Lisa | Handmade in Israel - January 21, 2022

These are absolutely adorable. I love that you can use your fabric scraps up!

Reply
    Helen - January 22, 2022

    I’m happy to hear that you like them so much, Lisa. Thanks for sharing 😊
    I love all projects that use up scraps! I have tons..

    Reply
Michelle - January 21, 2022

Very cool!

Michelle
https://mybijoulifeonline.com

Reply
    Helen - January 22, 2022

    You’re so sweet, thank you for your support, Michelle! ❤️

    Reply
Jeanne - January 23, 2022

Great project. I love the way they turn out!

Reply
    Helen - January 24, 2022

    Thank you for your compliments, Jeanne! I hope you’ll love all the projects that you will try.

    Reply
Donna @ Modern on Monticello - January 25, 2022

These are fabulous! I watched the video all the way through just to see how you did it even though I don’t sew. But I think I could do this one! Thanks for sharing the inspiration with us this week. They are so pretty. #HomeMattersParty

Reply
    Helen - January 25, 2022

    Aren’t they the best! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Donna!
    You can sew these by hand or use glue gun to hold it down. I haven’t tried gluing the butterflies but I imagine it would work

    Reply
Linda Primmer - January 30, 2022

Your butterflies are darling. So fun and colorful.
Thank you for sharing these beautiful butterflies. I hope you share them again next week so I can feature them.

Reply
    Helen - February 1, 2022

    Will do. Thank you so much, Linda

    Reply
creativejewishmom/sara - February 9, 2022

Wow, these are fabulous, this may get me to the sewing machine! thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling sunday, great to reconnect!

Reply
Carole - April 30, 2022

I love your ‘flutterbys’. I have lots of ideas blazing through my head just reading your post, looking at the boxes of lovely scraps I cannot throw away! I am going to try hot gluing a brooch pin on the back of some for Mothers Day giving and another is attaching (somehow) some florist wire and a stick to put in a flower vase. They would look pretty as a fridge magnet too. Thanks so much for the pattern Helen.

Reply
Carole - April 30, 2022

p.s. is there a print option for your instructions? No computer in my sewing room…

Reply
    Helen - May 2, 2022

    Not yet. you can copy and paste the instructions in word and print from there

    Reply

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