Monday, August 10, 2015

Updated DIY Ender Dragon Costume - Articulating wings

You guys, this Ender Dragon costume has been a huge hit on my blog for a while, but it's been even bigger in this house. The Big Kid is still obsessed, but she asked me if I could make better wings.

I think she just wanted wings that sat on her back and didn't restrict her arm movement, but we can't go for just... better...

We do AWESOME over here!!

She'd asked for these wings about 10 days before Phoenix ComiCon, so we didn't have a whole lotta time to research/prepare/make them, and I definitely made some mistakes that I'll share so you *don't* make them (I mean, if you happen to be making a pair of Ender Dragon Articulating wings...), but all-in-all, it's safe to say that these wings exceeded her expectations.

The "skeleton" of the wings is made from a 2x4 that I ripped into 1/4" strips, but you can use 1/4" plywood, balsa wood, or laminate flooring (this isn't as random as it seems yet... look below).

Whatever you use, you'll need strips that are 1 1/2" x 1/4". The wings are attached to some scrap laminate flooring from Baby Goats' closet makeover which is hinged together to allow her to "flap" her wings (or, really, have the ability to move on more than one plane).

You'll need

  • 2 - 8' strips of 1/4" ply ripped at 1 1/2"
  • 2 - 1/4" ply at 4"x8" (approx)
  • 2 hinges
  • 26* - 3/4" bolts with coordinating washers/nuts (I bought this 100-ct pack)
  • something to use as straps (I used backpack straps), 
  • about 2 yards of structured black fabric (you don't want "flowy" for fraying fabric - trust me)
  • silver ribbon
  • string (I used 2 black shoe laces)
*I used 2 to the the shoe lace arm bands, so you might add 2 if you want to do this.

Note: I'm not sure how much ribbon since I messed up many times and had to go buy more a couple of times. I would buy 6 yards of 2" thick ribbon and probably 10 yards of 1" (give or take... if you can only find 3/4" ribbon, use that). But... I would probably have to go back and buy more, knowing me.

Cut List:

  • 4 @ 14 3/4"
  • 2 @ 12"
  • 2 @ 24"
  • 2 @ 19 3/4"

Here's my sketch of the measurements (Mr. Goats did most of the skeleton twiddling until we got to this point).  Refer to the image above for layout (you want to pre-drill the holes for the string - those go on the bottom 14 3/4" board, close to where it meets the 19 3/4" board).

Any time you see boards that are parallel, the holes for the bolts are drilled 4" apart. Mr. Goats got the general idea for how to do this here, but we dumbed it down so that we mere mortals could figure it out with time to "upholster" it? Is it upholstering..? I'm getting distracted....

To get it on her back, I cut the straps off of an old backpack and punched a tiny hole through the top and bottom, then bolted it to the flooring. To make sure the fabric didn't tear, I added super glue where the bolt went through the fabric and used washers on both sides of the fabric so that the weight was somewhat distributed.

To deal with the fabric, I really, truly did not have this easy. This is still not perfect, but here's the final outcome of my wing.

Here's how I got there. First, I cut the two yards of fabric into two one yard pieces (I believe my fabric was 54"W). Then I folded the yard in half, hot dog style, and came up with the general shape.

The pattern was eyeballed, but I decided that I wanted the "scallops" to go all the way to the bottom of the fabric (uhh, the bigger, the better... RIGHT?!).

With the fabric still folded in half, I cut out the shape of the wings and tucked my fully extended wing frame inside. Here are the following steps (it seemed easier to put it on one image than to try to show you the confusing, individual images). Remember, the front and back of the wings are to be decorated (the ribbon is really all that applies to this).

When that was done, I HOT GLUED the 2" ribbon the the top of the wing, where the top board goes. When I tried to attach it to the entire top of the wing, it drooped and looked t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. when the wings weren't fully extended, so I decided to veer from the actual ender dragon wing there. Also, the top of the wing frame was poking through my fabric, so I made a "relief" cut, giving room for the board to push out without ripping the fabric. I think if you have a sturdier fabric, you might not need that. I used hot glue to attach the wing to the frame. It was only needed at one point as it's mostly held in place by the top board sitting in the sleeve, but after you get yours on, you'll be able to figure out the best place to glue it if you need to.


See the string poking out? Thread that into the predrilled hole and tie it, then cut a slit from the bottom of the wing (so the fabric doesn't bunch when the arms are raised) and tie a loop for your arms to go through.

Some words of advice:

As much as you think wire will make this look awesome/stiff when extended, IT'S A BAD IDEA!! The wire bends and doesn't un-bend easily, leaving a warped wing.

You can hot glue the ribbons down the bottom of the wing, but it doesn't look good. Take the time to sew them... you'll be glad you did!

You may have to tuck in the fabric and tack it in place using either hot glue or a needle and thread to get it to sit the way you want. The extra 10(ish) minutes of fiddling with it will make a huge difference.

This isn't really heavy, but the Big Kid did have to take a couple of breaks from it at ComiCon.


Take a lint roller with you.

Update: Here's a picture of her with her wings down. This was the only one I'd gotten because... well, why would she want to take a picture with these awesome wings down..!? ;-)

They got compact enough for her to walk through crows, and fortunately she was able to grab them and wrap them around her if she needed to squeeze through tight spaces (doorways).

UPDATE! We've lit up the eyes!

DIY Minecraft Weapons

Enderdragon Costume

Enderdragon pinata


  1. You are the best mom. ever. These wings are awesome!!

  2. This is an awesome tutorial, I'm going to use the frame design for my own DIY Green dragon costume. I'm not going to buy a pair of wings, so this is a huge help in my project (Ill probably post a pic on Instagram when Halloween comes around). Thanks so much for taking the time to put this on your website!

    1. Outstanding! Please, please, PLEASE tag @ladygoats if you do! I'd love to see. Also, if you have questions, ask away! I'm here to help!

    2. Hello. My name is Nicole. I was wondering if there was a way to contact you via email or whatever way I might be able to. I have a couple of questions about the wings. I’ve been working on these wings for about 4 days and I am running into a few snags/issues and I need the wings ready for Halloween tomorrow. I thank you for your time and would greatly appreciate if you were able to get back to me at your earliest convenience. Thanks so much.