How to Sew Wings into A Long Sleeve Shirt Pattern

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Green dragon wings in hooded pajamas

I know I’m late with writing my Halloween blog post, but 2020’s been crazy in a lot of different ways and time has been in short supply around here. Fortunately today’s topic isn’t something that has to be a Halloween only sort of thing! I’ll be explaining how to add wings to any long sleeve shirt which is great for making whimsical kids pajamas or clothes.

If you’ve been following my blog you may know that I absolutely love going all out for my kids’ Halloween costumes. Since trick-or-treating and parties were a no-go this year I had to get creative about how to keep it special. While elaborate costumes can look really awesome they generally aren’t the most comfortable for just hanging around the house, so this year I decided to make some fun Halloween themed pajamas instead.

The kids each got to pick out their own fabric, but when the mid kid picked out this reptile scale pattern I just couldn’t leave it alone! I had to make it more fun.

“Why don’t we add wings and make you into a dragon?”

Mid Kid thought that was such a great idea he insisted that the baby be a dragon just like him.

Baby in green winged dragon pajamas

You don’t have to make yours dragon wings. You could do bat wings, fairy wings, super hero wings, or whatever you fancy! Just by changing the fabric color or type you could make lots of different effects!

Fabric

Ideally you’ll want something very lightweight to lightweight that drapes nicely.  Easily washable is a nice bonus. Try looking at satin or cotton voile. Stretch velvet could be fun for some fuzzy wings! There’s some interesting stuff in costuming fabric but pay attention to the fabric care – not everything is machine washable, so know what you’re getting yourself into before you buy.

I bought some crepe back satin which didn’t quite drape as well as I was expecting (online shopping can be difficult sometimes!), but I was having a hard time finding something in the color my kid was insistent on getting.

Instructions

1. You need to start with open seams on the bottom of the arms and along the sides of the chest. It’s great if those are the last seams the pattern has you sewing – you can just leave it open. If you can’t leave them open due to the order your particular pattern has you sewing seams, just baste so you can easily seam rip them back open again. If you are starting with a pre-made shirt, you’ll need to carefully open up those seams.

For the mid kid I started with McCall’s 7518 hooded pajamas pattern, and for the baby I used the footed bodysuit (D) from McCall’s 7039.

Unfinished pajamas with seams left open

2. Lay out your shirt and raise the arm up so you have greater than a 90° angle. In hindsight, I wish I had made my angle a bit bigger. The larger your angle, the more flow or drape your wings will have.

3. Using whatever paper you have handy (I opened up some old paper shopping bags), draw straight along the arms and sides, and make a semi-circle from the end of the sleeve to the bottom hem of the shirt. If you want to make wings that look webbed, draw semi-circles along the curved edge. Using something round such as a plate can be helpful in making these.

Paper wing template drawing

4. Cut out your template. Fold your fabric and cut one set, then flip over your template and cut a second set. You’ll have a total of 4 wing pieces.

Cut out paper wing template by pajamas
Four green wing fabrics

5. Place fabric right sides together and hem along the curved edge of your wings. Cut notches in the seam allowance along the curves. If you have points, clip these.

Hemmed set of green wings
Notched and clipped seam allowance

6. Turn right side out and press (if your fabric can handle being ironed). I could tell my fabric wasn’t going to hold its shape due to its thickness so I added some decorative/functional stitching on the outside.

Decorative stitching on green dragon wings

7. Match the raw edges of the wing with just one layer of the sleeve, right sides together. If your wings have a front, double check that it will end up facing the front once you’re finished. Baste the raw edges together.

Green dragon wings basted to arm of pajamas

8. Line the raw edge of the wing with the raw edge of the shirt. You should still be working with the same side of the main body fabric that you sewed in step 7. You’ll need to fold the sleeve up in order to line up the edges. Baste.

Green dragon wings basted to side of pajamas

9. Now it’s time to finish sewing your open seams together. Pin the sleeve and side openings with the right sides together with the wing inside. The wing will be awkwardly bunched up inside the sleeve and body. Sew all the layers shut making sure you don’t accidentally catch the wing tips in the seam.

10. Repeat with the other side then turn right side out.

Finished baby dragon pajamas
Finished baby jumpsuit
Finished wing in child's pajamas
Wing of the children’s pajamas

I think these turned out really fun! I have extra fabric and I’m pretty tempted to make myself a dragon sweatshirt. What kind of wings would you sew?

Close up of wing on baby pajamas
Child wearing dragon pajamas outside
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