Friday, October 1, 2010

Iris Folding - Paper Craft Tutorial for Fall Leaf

Have you ever heard of Iris Folding? I hadn't until just this summer. The first time I saw it, I was sure there was NO way I would ever try it because it looked so tedious and detailed. When I've asked people about it, they usually think it is a type of origami.

My most recent Iris Folding project was a card for my aunt using a Maple Leaf Pattern.

Here's what you'll need:
One card (or display paper if you'll use it for a scrapbook or for framed art)
3-4 decorative papers, depending on your design
1 pattern/template to follow (or make your own--not as difficult as it first seems)
straight edge paper cutting implement, preferably NOT scissors
Swivel or Exact-o knife, scissors can work here
tape (I would LOVE to have a tape dispenser here, but since I don't have one, it definitely works without it), acid-free is best, especially if it is going in a scrapbook
Sharpie marker-not necessary, but I liked the embellishment

How to make it:
Cut the pattern guide out of your template.

Place it on the BACK side of your card or display paper in the spot you will want the pattern to show through. Trace it with a pencil (that's why you're on the back side).

Use your knife or scissors to cut the shape out of your display paper.

Place your pattern so it shows through the window. Some recommend using removable tape to secure your pattern to the front side of your display paper (or card). I have found that once I start placing my folded paper over it, the pattern stays in place pretty well, but secure it if it makes you feel better.

Take your decorative paper and cut it into strips about 1" to 1.5" wide, length does not matter. This is a perfect way to use up some of your leftover scraps from other cards or scrapbook projects. Once you have several strips cut, fold them in half (if using 1.5" strips) lengthwise or about 1/3 of the way (if using 1" strips).

At this point, I also took my Sharpie marker and outlined the shape on the front of my card (display paper). On my darker cards, I used a silver Sharpie marker, and I thought it brought out the finished product beautifully.
Now, just follow the numbers on your pattern. You'll trim down your strips to the length you'll need, lay them down with the fold toward the middle and white/back side of the decoration facing you; tape it down. You'll see why it's nice to have a tape-dispenser! Someday I'll break down and go find one, but I just don't feel like shopping for office supplies today when there is so much crafting to be done!

Now for the Iris. Traditionally, this is filled with a piece of holographic paper. I really don't often see holographic paper that I like, so I've never used it. Sometimes I'll fill the iris with a contrasting color, but most often I just use part of the shape I've cut out of my display paper so the Iris matches the card.

After you have finished, cover the back side (it's SO UGLY!!!) with a piece of solid cardstock. That will hide the ugliness as well as disguise the bulk of all the overlapping paper.

Here is your finished product:
Pop it in the mail/frame/scrapbook. Slightly tedious, but so gorgeous and classy!

If my instructions aren't detailed enough, you can find a very detailed How-To with a video here. I'd love to see some links if you give it a try!


  1. So beautiful. It looks sort of like a log cabin type of quilt. thanks so much for sharing and for linking to Transform Tuesday. I love it.

  2. It definitely reminds me of quilting--but easier. I've never attempted quilting though I always admire it. This is my substitute. ;-)

  3. I've followed the linky's from The Crafter's Apprentice. This looks great and reminds me of the paper piecing in quilting. This and paper piecing are both on my bucket list but it's the patience I'm having trouble finding!


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