Upcycling projects don’t always have to be practical and functional. They can also be fun and frivolous. That’s especially true of this upcycled denim moth taxidermy.
I love to upcycle fabrics, especially the little scraps that people often don’t think are worth keeping. I have a big bag of colourful printed fabric scraps and bits of old jeans waiting to be transformed into something fun.
There are many cool adult craft ideas on the blog, where I’ve upcycled fabrics into fun things such as flowers, whole succulent gardens and beautifully crafted denim and tartan feathers. This is the first time, though, I’ve attempted insect taxidermy.
Fabric Butterflies and Fabric Moths
Initially, I had the idea of making denim butterflies, but I changed my mind. I decided to make moths instead. Both insects are very similar. Butterflies are beautiful and the show-offs of the insect world, but I prefer the understated coolness of moths.
Moths, on the whole, are less pretty than butterflies and tend to be duller in colour. But some moth species often have hidden flashes of beauty that only show when in flight.
I could capture this with my fun taxidermy by creating two sets of wings for each moth—the top wings in denim and the bottom set in a more colourful fabric.
These denim fabric moths were made using a sewing machine, but they can easily be made as a no-sew upcycle project. Instead of stitching the fabric wings together, they could be glued with fabric glue.
Creating a Moth Taxidermy Specimen Display
Once I started making these upcycled fabric moths, I couldn’t stop. Soon I had a bit of a collection of faux moth taxidermy. I love upcycling denim and using scraps from several old pairs of jeans. It is a great way to show off the wonderful different shades of indigo denim that come in.
Every fabric moth was made from a different shade of denim and patterned fabric. I thought a fun way to display these moths would be in a traditional insect display case.
The idea of displaying real insects in specimen cases these days, as they did in the past, seems ethically and environmentally dodgy. However, I thought it would be OK with this faux taxidermy.
I even gave each of my upcycled denim moths a faux scientific Latin name to add to the effect. I mounted the fabric moths using the same insect pins that entomologists would use.
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What You Need To Make Fabric Moth Wall Art
- Scraps of denim and fabric in various colours. When I say scraps, I mean scraps, as you only need tiny pieces of fabric for each moth.
You might have a favourite old patterned shirt or blouse that you want to turn into a moth. Fabric swatch samples would also work well with this upcycle project—the more colourful, the better.
- Tailor’s chalk
- Frame for mounting the moth taxidermy
- Foamboard to fit the mounting frame
- Free moth pattern
- Insect mounting pins
- Sewing machine or fabric glue
- Superglue gel with a brush
- Craft wire for the moth antennae
- A small amount of fiberfill
How To Make Fabric Moth Taxidermy
1.. Print off the moth template and cut out the pattern pieces. There is a template for the top wings, one for the underwing and the body.
2. Fold over a piece of scrap denim that is double-thickness. Or use a denim pocket from a pair of jeans. Place the larger upper wing template on top of the denim right sides up and draw around with the tailor’s chalk.
Do the same with the moth’s body.
3. Next, sew around the moth denim wing shape using a sewing machine, following the chalk marks. I set my sewing machine to a small zigzag stitch setting.
Then cut out the wing shape as close to the stitching as possible.
Top tip: If you don’t have a sewing machine, stick the two pieces of fabric together with glue instead of stitching. Then cut the shape out following the chalk lines.
4. Cut out the two denim body pieces. Stitch them together, leaving a small hole. Stuff the moth body with fiberfill and then stitch it shut. Cut two small wire antennae from the craft wire and stick them into the moth’s body head.
5. Next, make the colourful under-wings the same way as the denim wings using the pattern for the smaller wings. But this time, use the colourful scraps of patterned fabric.
6. Carry on making the moth taxidermy body parts in different shades of denim and colours of fabric. I made enough to make nine upcycled denim faux moths.
Putting the Upcycled Denim & Fabric Moths Together
7. Next, before putting the moths together, play around with the different combinations of upcycled denim wings and scrap fabric wings for each moth.
8. Once you have decided on the moth’s wings, it’s time to put them together. I used super glue gel with a brush for this. Firstly, I brushed the moth’s body sides with a small amount of glue.
Then I placed the body on top of one of the scrap fabric wings and stuck the underwings to the body. Ideally, the wings should stick to the sides of the body, so they are slightly raised.
9. Again, stick the wings onto the top of the moth’s body using the super glue gel. Don’t forget to add a wire antenna if you haven’t already.
Carry on putting the moths together until all nine are made.
Putting the Mounted Moth Insect Display Together
10. I wanted to display these scrap fabric moths as wall art in the style of old-fashioned insect taxidermy. This involved using insect mounting pins. So that the pins fix easily, I cut foam board to fit the base of my frame.
11. To add to the vintage insect display vibe, I made labels for the faux moths. I found a vintage-style handwritten font called Tell Us. You can make your moth names or download mine here.
To give the moth labels an aged look, I brushed them with diluted coffee.
12. Next, play around with the moth display for how it best fits your frame. I arranged my moths for the insect display frame in a three-by-three layout.
13. Once you are happy with the arrangement of the insect display, fix the moths in place. I used three insect specimen pins for each moth—one in the body’s centre and one for each denim wing.
14. To finish this fun faux insect display of moths, I glued the labels to the foam board. I just used a simple glue stick for this.
My whole nature-loving family loves this faux insect taxidermy moth display. It is now hanging in my lounge. There is a tutorial for the Shibori indigo plant holder in the photo here.
You can set them free if you think it’s even cruel to pin faux moths in a display.
- Scrap pieces of denim from old jeans
- Colourful pieces of scrap fabric
- Fiber fill
- Moth pattern free to download from the site
- Insect mounting pin
- Frame and foam board
- Super glue gel
- Tailors Chalk
- Thin craft wire
- Sewing machine
- Print and cut out the free moth template.
- Place the large wings and body shape on doubled up denim scraps. Draw around the shapes with tailor's chalk.
- Using a sewing machine stitch around the chalk mark. Use a small zig-zag stitch setting on the sewing machine.
- Cut out the stitched wings and body pieces as close to the stitches as possible.
- Repeat with the small wing on colourful fabric scraps.
- Sew the two body pieces together. Leave a small hole for stuffing with fiberfill.
- Stuff the moth body and then sew it shut. Make an antenna for the moth from the craft wire.
- Glue the colourful small wings to the base of the moth body.
- Then glue the denim wings to the top of the faux moth's body.
- Repeat and make eight more moths in different combinations of fabric and denim.
- Back a plain frame with foam board.
- Print off Latin labels for the faux moths. Cut them out and age the labels with diluted coffee.
- Using insect specimen pins, pin the moths to the foam board. Use three pins for each moth one in each wing and one in the body.
- Glue the aged labels to the foam board, one under each moth.
Plus, I have more ideas of things to make with fabric scraps here.