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A DIY Paper Pinwheel Tutorial

Paper Pinwheel Tutorial

Paper pinwheels probably take the prize for simplest DIY craft with the most brilliant final product. Truly, once you get the hang of the process, you can whip these babies up in less than 10 minutes each. So with an hour or two on your hands (or, better yet, a couple of PAIRS of hands helping you out), you could have a pretty big  pile ready to hang – and, as we saw during last week’s studio reveal, hanging them en masse makes quite a statement. Want to learn how to do it? Read on!

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Supplies:

  • Stapler (although I would suggest a full size over our mini – I just couldn’t find the big one)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Thin wooden dowel rod (about 1/4″ in diameter) cut to about 1ft in length
  • Two pieces of scrapbook paper in the same print
  • An oversized button in your color of choice
  • A pair of scissors

Directions:

1. Start by folding each piece of scrapbook paper in half. This will help you cut the two pieces in perfect halves since you can easily follow the bend mark with your scissors.

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2. Once you have all four halves cut, begin to fold them accordion style. I make my first bend about 1 inch in width and then allow that to dictate the rest of my folds so that they stay even. If you fold your piece of paper all the way through but notice that you have a bit of a wide piece at the end (see below photo for representation of this), just trim it to match the rest of your folds – It won’t make any difference at the end of the project.

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3. With all 4 pieces of paper folded accordingly, match them up end to end to create one super long trail. To do this, take the end of one piece and drop it over the beginning of another.

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3. (continued) Here’s where things can sort of be a crapshoot. You’ll either get pieces that match perfectly (like above) – one edge angles up, while the other angles down – or you’ll get ends that DON’T mesh well, with both ends angled up or down (like below). Although this might seem alarming, it’s a simple fix – Just trim the last angle off of one of the pieces of accordion paper. See two photos down for an example of this quick fix.

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4. Once you have your ends matched up creating that long piece of accordion paper, take your stapler and connect them together – one staple at the top of the connecting edges, and another at the bottom. If you use a nice and busy pattern like I did, your staples will be very difficult to see. But if you’d like it to be more seamless, feel free to use glue to attach the papers together.

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5. This is the moment that everything starts to take shape. Grab the two ends of your paper accordion and bring them together to create your pinwheel’s final rounded silhouette, and staple together like you did before. Although I made sure to demonstrate how it would look nicely just below, your pinwheel will probably look more like the shot 2 photos down.

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6. Once stapled together, the darn thing will NOT want to stay down – Instead, it will try to sit up like some kind of weird pyramid or cylinder. To fix it, grab the end sticking up into the air and clasp together in the middle, then gently push down, forcing the bottom edge to fan out. Now you’ll have the blank underside exposed.

7. To keep the pinwheel sitting flat, squeeze a generous line of hot glue down the middle section of the folds (it doesn’t matter which sections you choose) and put the wooden dowel rod in place while the glue is still hot.

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8. Finally, flip the pinwheel over and squeeze another generous amount, this time JUST in the center of the pinwheel, and push your button into the glue while it’s still hot.

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And that’s it! In about 5-10 minutes, you’ll have your very own pinwheel to show off. Pretty simple right? If you have any troubleshooting questions, just leave a comment below or email me anytime. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll be a pro and ready to impress your friends with your new craft talent. Host a fun pinwheel making party, if you like!

That’s actually exactly what we did right before the wedding – My mom and I invited a large group of family friends to the house, and we made a big pile of paper pinwheels, factory style, to be hung at our wedding reception. Click here for the final look.

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My favorite thing to do with pinwheels is to combine unlikely colors and patterns. There is absolutely no hot pink in the pattern of scrapbook paper that I chose for this tutorial, but the contrast between the muted pattern in the paper and the neon in the button is what makes it so eye-catching – At least in my opinion!

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And, although you see that I did a collection of full size pinwheels below, you can do half sized pinwheels too – Just keep cutting your scrapbook paper in half until you get the size you’d like. I’ve even seen them made into a mini size perfect for cupcake toppers before.

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Where would you hang or display your paper pinwheel collection?

UPDATE: Here’s a quick printable tutorial in case you can use it for your craft night at home!

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  • June 5, 2013 - 4:17 pm

    Mary Ann - I have been on pins & needles waiting for this post! LOVE IT. :) You have inspired me to make pinwheels and redecorate my living room, which needs a healthy splash of color. Thank you!!ReplyCancel

    • June 5, 2013 - 4:19 pm

      Carrie - You’re so sweet :) Glad you liked it and good luck with your own project!ReplyCancel

  • June 6, 2013 - 8:55 am

    Jennifer Wells - I have approximately eleventy billion pieces of scrapbook paper that I had no idea what to do with! This is so helpful! :)ReplyCancel

    • June 6, 2013 - 8:57 am

      Carrie - Haha, perfect! And thanks for making me chuckle on this dreary, rainy morning :)ReplyCancel

  • July 3, 2013 - 6:31 am

    Melanie - Where do you find those cute buttons? Also, what is the best way to hang them once they are finished?ReplyCancel

    • July 3, 2013 - 6:54 am

      dreamgreendiy@gmail.com - I found my buttons at Michael’s, but you might want to check eBay for people selling big bags of them! As for hanging, I put mine up using a thumbtack, but you could also hole punch them and wrap a piece of twine around it. Either way works!ReplyCancel

  • July 22, 2013 - 10:41 am

    heather - Cheerful and lovely! Thanks for sharing this gem!ReplyCancel

    • July 22, 2013 - 10:43 am

      dreamgreendiy@gmail.com - So glad you enjoyed it!!ReplyCancel

  • July 26, 2013 - 10:05 am

    Jessica - LOVE THESE!! I cannot wait to decorate my daughter’s room. How did you hang them on the wall? Did you glue all of them together and attach also??ReplyCancel

    • July 26, 2013 - 11:46 am

      dreamgreendiy@gmail.com - Thank you! So glad you like them!! I just used a simple clear thumb tack pushed through the paper :)ReplyCancel

  • August 1, 2013 - 12:12 pm

    Kaelin - What size paper did you use?ReplyCancel

    • August 1, 2013 - 12:15 pm

      dreamgreendiy@gmail.com - I used 12×12 inch – Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2013 - 10:57 am

    Teelou - Silly question I have never ever done anything like this before but where does one find Scrapbook paper? Is that actually what it is called? LOVE the pinwheels!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

    • August 5, 2013 - 11:02 am

      dreamgreendiy@gmail.com - Not a silly question at all! You can get scrapbook paper at most craft stores like Michael’s, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby, etc. Glad you like the project!!ReplyCancel

  • August 12, 2013 - 5:12 am

    laura - How do you get them to stay up? I have tried blue tac but they just fall down

    Thank :)ReplyCancel

    • August 12, 2013 - 8:38 am

      dreamgreendiy@gmail.com - I actually just used clear push pins! You can hardly see them unless you get up close, plus layering the pinwheels helped to hide them!!ReplyCancel

  • November 1, 2013 - 6:25 pm

    Babyface - Could I use a straw instead of a dowel?ReplyCancel

    • November 1, 2013 - 6:27 pm

      Carrie - I don’t think a straw would be strong enough…Plus, the hot glue would probably melt it if you used a plastic one. I would stick with a dowel if you plan to recreate!!ReplyCancel

      • September 6, 2014 - 3:42 am

        TeaThyme - I used bamboo skewers because I had them on hand. They worked beautiful.ReplyCancel

        • September 8, 2014 - 7:29 am

          Carrie - Nice!!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 10:21 pm

    Kelsey - What section of the craft store do you find the wooden dowels?ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 10:23 pm

      Carrie - I found mine near the wooden boxes and shelves. Could be near the adhesives, too!ReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2014 - 7:23 pm

    Shree Vella - Wow! Some truly unique and beautiful designs. Really amazing. Im truly inspired to try this, thanks. :)ReplyCancel

    • March 24, 2014 - 7:31 pm

      Carrie - Awesome!! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    Anita Burgoyne - These are so great, I’m going to make them for the engagement garden party I’m throwing for my daughter and her fiance. This could be a silly, obvious question, but do you do the accordion folds across the width or length? i.e. short sides get folded or long sides. It’s hard to tell from the photos.Thank you! anitaReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2014 - 11:10 pm

      Carrie - Awesome!! I hope they really enjoy it! Not a silly question at all…It’s actually pretty simple, because I used 12×12 sheets of scrapbook paper – there is no “long” or “short” side since all of the sides are equal =) I hope that helps!!ReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2014 - 5:10 pm

    Sarah - I can’t get mine to stay rounded even with a dowel glued in the back. Suggestions/tips would be much appreciated (and are much needed)!! These are so cute! Thanks in advance!ReplyCancel

    • May 23, 2014 - 9:02 pm

      Carrie - Hmmmm…Can you send me a photo of your set up?? My email is dreamgreendiy@gmail.com. That way I can see what’s up! :)ReplyCancel

      • May 27, 2014 - 9:44 am

        Sarah - I decided to go with a different pinwheel for my current project but will definitely get in touch when I attempt these again. Thanks!!ReplyCancel

        • May 27, 2014 - 10:05 am

          Carrie - Okay, yeah! Please do! =)ReplyCancel

  • December 8, 2014 - 11:11 am

    Adrienne - Can you please share what color mint I on the wall and where it is from?ReplyCancel

    • December 8, 2014 - 11:45 am

      Carrie - Sure! It’s Icy Mint by Valspar.ReplyCancel

  • December 11, 2014 - 5:12 pm

    Lilibeth - Love this tutorial! It’s much more straightforward than others I’ve seen. I have a scoring table, so I’m able to score the sheets in 1 ince increments before cutting them in half and then I score again perpendicular so get the 2 halves.

    And I happen to have that very same paper that you used :) Might have to use the last two sheets on this very project! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • December 12, 2014 - 8:57 am

      Carrie - Sounds like I need to get a scoring table!! Hope your project turns out perfectly! =)ReplyCancel

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