A butterfly is a simple, elegant creature. A butterfly costume also has these qualities and is cost effective to make from items you may have around your home. The most labour intensive parts of constructing a butterfly costume are the wings and antennae. Some elements can be left out, such as arms and the symmetry of wing design, but if you are looking to re-create a butterfly true to form, the wings and antennae are necessary to the costume.
The Body and Arms
The body of a butterfly is usually one solid colour, or a solid colour with some embellishments, such as a stripe. Wear a solid colour dress and tights that will coordinate with the chosen colour of your wings. You can also wear trousers and a top in a solid colour. Wear a sparkly belt, if you desire, or add a stripe down the middle of the costume using reflective tape. Examine photographs of real butterflies and choose a design you like. A butterfly's arms protrude from it's thorax and abdomen. If you are striving for realism, cut a feather boa into four pieces. Attach two pieces together with fishing wire at the very tips of the boa segment. Sew or attach two pieces of the boa to each side of your costume top. Attach the top feather boa piece to an elastic band or bracelet using fishing wire. When your arms move, so will the costume arms.
Butterflies have four wings - two top wings and two bottom wings. These wings can be constructed by bending four wire hangers into a vaguely wing-shaped forms. A pair of pliers can save your hands some strain or injury, but are optional to use. Attach two sets of the wings together vertically by twisting the hanging end of the wire hangers together to form a stem. Do the same for the other set of wings. Stretch nylon stockings over the distorted hangers, and embellish them with craft paint, fabric paint, glitter or gemstones. If you are striving for realism, make each set of wings symmetrical. Twist the stems together. You now have one central stem connecting the wings. Tie or otherwise attach two pieces of elastic, wide enough to fit around your arms, to the central stem. Try the wings on, and see how they feel. Make any necessary adjustments.
Another integral part of a butterfly costume is the antennae. Use a hot glue gun to attach cotton balls or glittery craft puff balls to the ends of two pipe cleaners. Twist these pipe cleaners around a thin, plain fabric headband.