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For a good several years I lived at the very tip of Texas and despite not ever wanting to live in a hot and humid climate, I did just that. And it was rather unpleasant. I love doing things outside and so I’d hit up the beach or hiking trail in the sweltering heat in a place where, I’m not even kidding, the sun seems brighter than any other place I have ever been in my life. My youngest nephew decided that crazy sun, which gave me a crazy frown line in between my eyebrows, was so much brighter because we were much closer to the equator and therefore the sun. Basically, we were on the face of the sun. :)
My very first trip to the grocery store as a new Rio Grande Valley resident saw me wearing shorts and a tank top and still ridiculously overheated. And when I went to check out and the checker mentioned how hot I looked I started to cry. Silly? Yep, but I was just. so. miserable. With some time I did get rather used to the temperature and I could mostly hold my own. But when anybody came to visit me during the hot months, which was basically, like, 10 months out of the year, I would be reminded of how miserable the climate was for anybody not used to it.
For a long time, now, my mom has carried folding fans with her to help when she gets overheated and, until I lived on the surface of the sun :), I didn’t understand having something like that taking up a real estate in my purse where I have a bajillion other things already cluttering business up. But last summer I finally saw the wisdom of keeping a paper fan nearby.
Since I didn’t have a fan on me and I didn’t really know where to run out to buy one I decided to just make a couple. And after a few different versions, I found THE best way to make paper fans that push a considerable amount of cool air into your face as you flap it to and fro. My mom and sister were both AMAZED by how much air wafted and smacked them in the face helping them to cool down much more quickly than the pretty fabric version my mom had sitting on the table next to her.
The secret is TOTALLY in using cardstock. Not paper but stock. It’s heavier and thicker and man that air super zooms around and into your face like you wouldn’t believe. And while I used several different types of cardstock, I found that the paper that produced the prettiest design while serving that massive amount of airflow was my Martha Stewart paper pad I scored on sale from Michael’s and had in the craft stash. Ooh, and the patterns are distinctly tropical and summery which is PERFECT for some DIY paper fans. Ready to get it?
Let’s make DIY folding paper fans, shall we?
For this project you will need:
- 12 x 12 patterned cardstock <— This is the paper I used for all but the yellow fan and it is MUCH cheaper at Michael’s
- Skinny sticks craft wood <— Cheaper at Walmart
- Power drill with a 1/16 drill bit
- Matching embroidery floss and yarn or tapestry needle
- Glue stick
- Strong glue (I like e6000)
- Binder clips
- Tiny elastic hair ties <— I used these but you can also use clear hair ties
To make your folded paper fan by hand you will need:
- Craft Knife – I LOVE the Cricut TrueControl Craft Knife
- Self-healing Cutting Mat
- Awl OR a ballpoint pen that has run out of ink (for scoring)
To create a paper fan using a machine you will need:
- Cricut Maker
- LightGrip Machine Mat
- Cricut Stylus or Cricut Scoring Wheel
- Cricut Design Space Folding Paper Fan Cut File OR SVG File
Don’t let that kind of heavy materials list freak you out, this project really isn’t a huge deal :) Also, a cat craft assistant isn’t totally necessary but is totally cute :) Ready to get it?
First up, let’s cover how to prep your paper if making paper fans by hand.
(If using a machine, skip down past the hand folding directions by clicking here).
For this project, you will need 12″ x 12″ scrapbooking style paper/cardstock. I genuinely prefer the cardstock to the paper because you get a far more effective fan, but feel free to practice a time or two using what you already have on hand in your craft stash.
Grab your ruler and place it half an inch from the edge of the paper like seen above.
Grab something pointy, awl OR a ballpoint pen that has run out of ink. FYI, you can find awls at the craft store, hardware store, or even in the hardware section at Walmart…
Holding your awl much like a pencil, like seen above, press down into the paper, dragging the tool along the straight edge of your ruler. You can also use an empty ballpoint pen for this part, or anything you can find that is relatively pointy but won’t leave a visible mark. Continue making score marks half an inch apart down the entire length of the paper.
Using a craft knife trim anything you don’t want visible and then cut down the middle with the score marks running vertically throughout each cut piece. Place your pieces together and ensure that they are the exact same size. While placed together, trim a bit so that they are the exact same size if needed.
Next, let’s quickly cover how to make a paper fan using a Cricut Maker.
(If you just cut and scored your paper by hand, skip to the next step).
This method is definitely the quickest and easiest way to knock these babies out… Grab either the Cricut Design Space Folding Paper Fan Cut File OR SVG File by yours truly and tack your paper onto a LightGrip Machine Mat, add the Cricut Stylus or Cricut Scoring Wheel to create the pleats/folds and let your Cricut do its thing. Carefully remove the paper without allowing it to bend or roll up all crazy-like.
Carefully fold your first piece of fan paper along the score marks like an accordion. Repeat for the second piece of paper.
Overlap just a single half-an-inch section of both pieces of accordion-folded paper with the same pattern(s) facing up or down.
Glue the 2 pieces together to form one, continuous piece.
Allow the glue a few minutes to completely dry.
Grab a skinny wooden craft stick and glue it down to one side of the accordion paper using a strong adhesive like e6000. While gluing down, position the end of the stick’s edge right along one edge of the paper, like seen above on the left side.
Hold the stick securely in place using 2 binder clips for 10 minutes, or until the glue is mostly set.
Grab 2-4 matching tiny elastic hair ties that will act as your fan’s closure. FYI – 2 looks better than 4, but 4 is sturdier and lasts longer if your fans will get a lot of use…
Begin gluing your second skinny wooden craft stick with the end butting along the same edge of the paper, and on the same side of the accordion folded pleats. On the edge with space in between the craft stick’s end and the edge of the paper, slip your elastic hair ties beneath the wood about 1/4 to 1/2 inch down from the paper’s edge.
Using another binder clip, hold the stick in place and allow the adhesive to set up for about 10 minutes.
Fold up the fan along the accordion pleats and pinch together. Using 3 much larger binder clips, keep the paper in the folded fan shape overnight, or even for a few days (the longer the better).
Remove the binder clip on the edge where the craft sticks run closest to the paper’s edge. Using a tiny 1/16 drill bit and in a power drill, create a hole straight through the 2 wooden sticks and all of the pleated paper in between. When done, you should be able to see cleanly through the hole you just created. Do NOT remove the other 2 binder clips.
Thread a needle with 12″ of embroidery floss keeping all 6 strands intact. Pull it through the hole in the fan leaving about 2-3″ of a tail hanging out.
Run the needle and thread back through the hole on the side you first went through again making a loop as you see above. Place the binder clip back onto the fan as close to the hole as possible without blocking it to keep the fan very tightly held together.
Push the needle underneath the thread on the underside of the fan. Run it back through the hole and under the thread at the bottom 6-8 times total, or until you can no longer pass the needle through the hole.
Tie the bottom in a secure overhand knot. Apply your very strong glue to the knot and allow it to completely dry, leaving the binder clips in place. Once the glue feels nice and dry, trim any excess string from near the knot and apply glue one last time. Use the glue to smooth down any frizzies from the cut ends. It’s kind of like applying gel to your hair after you pull it up in a ponytail or something. :)
Once everything is nice and dry remove the clips and pull the hair ties around the fan to keep it securely closed.
Carefully remove the bands from around the fans to open it up. The first few uses the fans will be super tight and a bit difficult to hold really open single-handedly, but they will soon open fully. Even when it isn’t 100% opened up it still is going to zoom some crazy strong wind about your face, huzzah!
Again, I strongly suggest using cardstock as opposed to actual scrapbooking paper because you’re going to make some powerful little fans. Even my mom and sister who both use fans all of the time are in LOVE with my DIY folded paper fans I made for them and they are experts!