Homemade Weddings: Crafty Hanging Paper Fans

wedding venue interior with hanging pinwheels

Getting married in a barn meant that I had a lot of space to fill to try to make things look more wedding-y than sheep shearing-y.

The high ceiling and wooden beams were crying out for decoration of some sort, and I wanted something simple, impactful and (most importantly) cheap.

Having not yet discovered Pinterest, I went old school and created a folder on my computer to collate any useful inspiration. I called this folder ‘hanging things’ (in hindsight I realise this could have signified more sinister pass times…)   I then tracked down as many ideas as I could from wedding blogs – from bunting to lanterns, to origami birds

Using bribes of Haribo and cider, I lured my unsuspecting bridesmaids into testing out some of these ideas in a tipsy craft-y session.  Our first attempt was tissue paper pom-poms, which looked lovely but were rather labour- intensive.  I also realised that they would be difficult to transport.  They do look fab though – here’s how to make them.

For our next attempt we took inspiration from this wedding and tried our hand at circular fans or ‘pinwheels’ or ‘rosettes’.  We made them in different sizes and colours and strung them together vertically on fishing lines to help fill the space.   The experiment was a success, and over the next few weeks I set about producing them on (what felt like) an industrial scale.  After an incident where I superglued my fingers together, I roped in professional expertise in the form of bridesmaid Ruth (a primary school teacher), who came armed with metre rulers, craft supplies, bags of patience, and brought some order to the chaos.

Pinwheels in suitcase
 pinwheels in transit

Instructions on how to make them under the cut…

What you need:

1. Coloured card – I used 12″ by 12″  patterened double sided (dual colour) card from The Craft Barn 

2. or…. remnants of floral wallpaper (I scavenged some from in-laws and bought others from eBay) plus tissue paper for backing
3. spray mount glue
4. Stapler
5. Clear nylon fishing line – like this
6. A needle
7. Pegs
8. Strong glue
9. Scissors (or a craft knife)
10. Craft mat
11. Metre ruler


1. If you’re using wallpaper, spray the back evenly with spray mount glue, then carefully lay the tissue paper on top and stick down.

2. Create the folds by measuring out faint lines in pencil across the card at regular intervals on both sides of the card. I did smaller 2cm intervals for the little fans and 4cm for the larger ones.

2. With scissors or a craft knife score every other line on one side of the card, and then flip it over to score the alternating lines on the other side.  If you’re using wallpaper you can just fold without scoring (measuring is still helpful but not necessary if you keep it neat).

paper fan3. Fold the card or wallpaper along the lines to make a fan / concertina – the scored lines should make the foldes nice and sharp.  Then fold the concertina in half (see above).

4.  Pinch together the two ends to make a half-circle, then glue the edges together and fasten with pegs as they dry.

Staple fastening on paper fan

5. To make sure they are really secure, once they are dry you can carefully staple them with a discreet small staple or two (see above).  For the smaller fans this wasn’t always needed, but for the largest ones it was important to stop them sprnging open.

half fan

6. Repeat again to form the other half of the circle (above), and then fasten the two together along the edges using the glue / pegs / staples technique.

7. To get a nice, neat finish, I fastened the centres of the two fans together with the nylon fishing line.  I threaded a needle and looped it thoguh the tiny gaps in the bottom of each fan several times, and pulled hard each time to tighten the fastening.  I then made a small knot in the end and cut the thread.

8. For some small fans, you can just use a single continuous piece of accordian fold.  This tutorial at Style Me Pretty shows how to do this, but instead of using glue dots for the centre of the pinwheel, I used the needle and transparent finshing line thread to sew around the central medallion of the fan and pull it tight so the centre comes together.

9.  Once you’ve made all your fans, you can thread the fans together by using the needle and he fishing line to piece a hole in the top of the biggest fan (not too close to the top – an inch or so in) and then threading the other fans on the same thread by going in at the bottom first, and then threading through the top, so that the fans hang straight, from a single piece of thread.  Make sure you think about the order (I went small to big) and the different colour patterns of the fans as you string them for hanging.

10. Remember to leave enough extra thread at the top for fastening to your venue ceiling! (or getting someone else to fiz to the ceiling…)

man hanging fans from barn beam

The nice folk at York Maze hanging the pinwheels from the beams.

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