Practically Perfect Paper Fans

If you’re popping in to see what the ModPodge mailbox companion pieces are, I’m still gathering the last of my supplies, stay tuned!

In the interim, I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on Practically Perfect Paper Fans.

Practically perfect paper fansLast year I was decorating a circus-themed event and really needed a paper fan tutorial that gave details. Most of what I found was helpful, but didn’t have many specifics…or they used beautiful scrapbook paper requiring $ and more piecing than I wanted.

If you’re thinking, “This is JUST a paper fan…isn’t a tutorial OVERKILL!?” the answer is “Yes, maybe”  ...but here’s the backstory:

I was using them as part of a centerpiece. They needed to be consistent because I needed 200 of them. If five different people made them, they would all be different sizes and depths. I needed them to be uniform. Also, too many folds would be floppy, and mine would be glued to a structure so they needed to be crisp.

So, if you want an economical paper fan, I hope these instructions serve you as well as they did me.

A blessed soul at one of the craft chains (and if I knew who it was, I would put her artfully framed picture here with a halo over it) asked me what I was up to, and suggested using a scoring board.

And that, my new friends, was boss!

scoring board, paper fan tools

For $20 dollars, I had the best paper fan-making tool in all of craftdom. Add the 40% off coupon from any of the biggies, and I “scored” a great deal.  (If you don’t have a scoring board, you can measure and mark…that works, too, just a little slower.)

Anyway, I selected gift wrap from an on-line source in the colors of the event (maroon and black), grabbed scissors, tape, straight-edge ruler and thin wire and I had the staples of inexpensive fundraising decor.  Bibbity, bobbity, boom!

Okay…enough backstory…here we go:

1.   Determine the preferred finished diameter of your fan. Add an inch or two to allow for pattern matching and trimming. That’s the width of the paper.

For nearly every fan under 10 finished inches in diameter, I cut the length of the paper to 22 inches. (10 – 14 inches wide, I’d add an extra three inches to the length.)


2.  With the design side UP, align your paper on the scorer as best as you can (I’m lazy and usually tear with a ruler rather than cut, that’s why my edge is a little raggedy…it won’t matter in the end). Score at 1/2 inch. (Don’t press too hard or the paper will tear.)



3.  Crease on the score line, and move the folded edge back to the side (zero mark).  Then score the paper every three inches.scoring board, paper fans, scoring tools


4.  Crease the folds along the score lines.



5.  Bring the folds together so they meet, and create a new fold/crease. This is where you fold the underside of the design. Scoring the underside doesn’t work for me, ironically. It seems to make the folds uneven when I do it this way. (Also note, the design does shift vertically if you haven’t absolutely perfectly aligned it before scoring…hence the title “Practically Perfect.” I can live with the shift.)


6.  Fold the fan in half, first one way, then the other to align the design as desired, and trim to desired width (the added 1’ – 1.5” is trimmed away here)

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7.  Trim away half of each side of the 1/2” selvage.


8.  Add thin wire to secure at the center of the folds.


9.  Open fan to meet ends, fold the 1/2” selvage end over the corresponding side, matching pattern as desired. Secure with tape. Trim (they rarely meet perfectly.) Repeat on other side.



10.  Tweak folds as needed.  You can cover the wire at the center point by gluing a contrast circle over it. Or use garland wire and twist it at the front, then curl with a pencil.




Make more fans as needed.  The rest are a breeze. (My son says I need to point out that terrible fan pun with a “you see what I did there, don’t you?”  Kids are helpful that way 🙂 )