Velvet Butterflies

Diane Ricks 2005

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  • Hanah hand dyed silk and rayon velvet. 
  • Batting and small amount of "Fiberfill"
  • Sewing machine
  • regular sewing thread color to match
  • Variegated Rayon thread
  • Heavy metallic thread
  • hand sewing needle
  • Large eye needle for cord
  • 36" metallic cord
  • 2 beads for eyes
  • Antenna, feathers or material of choice
  • Scissors



Step 1: Trace and cut out the wing pattern. Note* If you place the pattern over another piece of paper as you cut you will have a right and a left wing pattern. 

Step 2: Use a single layer of light batting such as "Warm and Natural" or split a piece of batting so you have half the thickness. 

Step 3: Fold the velvet right sides together and place on top of the batting. 

Step 4: Pin the cut out wing pattern pieces to the fabric sandwich leaving at least 1/2" between the pattern pieces. Place the pins with the head to the center, points to the outside. Leave the pins in place while you stitch to keep the velvet from shifting about during stitching.  
Step 5: Reduce the stitch length on your sewing machine to 2.00 and stitch around the wing pieces with regular sewing thread. Cut out wings leaving 1/8" to 1/4" seam allowance all around the outside of the wings.   
Step 6: Trim the batting next to the stitching line.   
Step 7: Clip inward curves and notch outward curves.
Step 8: Lift the top layer of velvet fabric and clip a small slit (as indicated on the pattern) about 1" long and near the bottom point of the wing. Slit only one layer. 
Step 9: Turn the wing right side out through the slit with a chopstick. Finger press the edges. Hand stitch the slit closed.  
Change the thread to the variegated rayon    
Step 10: Stitch the design on the wings. See diagrams. Be sure you stitch a right and left wing.   
Step 11: When the wing designs are stitched change the bobbin thread to a heavy metallic thread, loosen the bobbin tension, lower the feed dogs and set your machine for free motion embroidery and use the correct foot. Stitch wiggly lines on the wings from the back so the metallic bobbin thread is on the front side of the wings. See diagram on the stitch suggestion page.

Step 12: Embellish with beads, sequins, stitching etc.

Step13: Assemble the wings after embellishing. Whip stitch the left and right wings together.

Step 14: Body - Place right sides of the body fabric together with 2 layers of batting underneath. Pin the pattern onto the fabric sandwich and stitch around the body pattern. Cut it out leaving a 1/8" seam allowance all the way around. Clip the curves. Make a slit in one layer of the fabric and turn to the right side through the slit. As you whip stitch the opening closed, add small bit of "Fiberfill" to make the body fat and squishy.    
Step 15: Take about 36" of metallic cord, fold it in half. Tie the center of the cord around the neck of the butterfly body and wrap tightly. Continue to wrap the body until you reach the tail. Thread the cord through a large eye needle and pass the cord into the body and out the end of the tail, add a stitch to secure. After securing the cord, cut it off leaving 2 or 3 inches.  
Step 16: Stitch bead eyes in place on the head.   
Step 17: Glue antenna to the head. Note* peacock or ostrich feathers make good antenna, Glue or stitch the body to the center of the wings.   

Diane Ricks has been involved in art since childhood. In college she majored in art and minored in clothing and textiles, but shortly after graduation from Brigham Young University, she married and devoted her time and talent to raising six children. When her youngest child was in kindergarten Diane went back to school to study Fashion Design. This was a life changing event. After graduation she started her own fashion sewing business. She designed and produced costumes for a dance company and custom clothing for a wide variety of customers. One day a card arrived announcing a 3 day "Surface Design Conference". It sounded fun and interesting so she and a friend went to see what it was all about.

"Wow! This is what I want to do", exclaimed Diane.

Wearable art was the perfect combination of her talents, sewing and art. From there she began to learn all she could about painting and dyeing fabric and all kinds of fabric manipulation techniques. She has gone on to design for the Fairfield Fashion Show three times and the Bernina Fashion Show three times. Diane has also participated in many other local and national shows and events.

Diane lives in Alta Loma, California and teaches fabric painting, dyeing and sewing for Wearable Art. She does trunk shows, lectures and workshops on the techniques she uses in her amazing garments. Lately Diane has been exploring art quilting as another extension of her love of artistic expression in paint, dye and fabric.


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