2/16 {DIY or DIE} Origami Flowers

Be ye warned: This project is a little more complicated in the sense that it’s tedious, but the end product is 100% worth-it.

Once again, pulled from Playing with Books, I tackled the construction of a flower that has a little more structure and a little more heft to it. And, like before, I didn’t end up using storybook paper {or, sheet music, as the book calls for}. Rather, I opted for lightweight scrap-booking paper and newspaper. {I also lightly skimmed the directions, which was probably not my best move, as this is the most complicated craft project I’ve tackled. But after one glass of wine and two angry crumplings of failed attempts, I figured it all out.}

To be honest, I bought the scrap-booking paper for a different flower project without checking to make sure that it was two-sided. It was not. And then I had a $30 pad of paper that was 300 sheets strong and could not use it for the other flower project for which it had been purchased, and The Groom was not half as amused by this as I was. “Oh, stop bristling,” I told him, trying my best to think on my feet so he’d stop looking at me like that. “I’ll use it for something else.” And then, when the frowny-face did not go away, I added, with enthusiasm. “… Something better!”

But what could possibly be better than swirly roses? I wondered once he stopped glowering. Well, that’s simple. Flowers that look like they could have been made by ninjas, of course.

In Playing with Books, they’re called Kusudama. I don’t think this project technically qualifies because, traditionally {according to Wikipedia} there is sewing involved, and stacking and building, and the final product looks like a rather magnificent flower globe. I, being of far inferior ambition and skill, just want something that I can stick place cards into, and something that will look pretty dangling from the bottom of paper lanterns.

Now. Bear with me. The book’s directions were a little… I don’t exactly speak multi-directional-arrow-markers {thus the light skimming}. Still, I managed to figure it out and only glued myself to the project once {and I’ll tell you more about that later}.

Materials you will need for this project include: Round heavy objects, a paper-cutting tool with a ruler, scissors {in case something ends up being uneven, or halfway through you decide you’d like to give bangs a shot}, craft clue, bobby pins or paper clips, paper and fuzzy slippers.

Note: I don’t recommend wine and chocolate for this project because you will inevitably end up accidentally eating glue. Not that… uh… not that I know from personal experience. Or anything.

Step 1: Figure out what size squares you want to work with.

Pictured above are 12-inch {the big one}, 6-inch {the red one} and 4-inch {the smallest one} squares. From 3 sheets of 1212 scrapbook paper {which is what my pad of scrapbook paper gave me for each color pattern} you can get two full 6-inch flowers with 6 petals each. With 4-inch squares, you get 5 flowers of 5 petals each {which still look great} and have two pieces of paper left over to turn into something else. Swirly roses, perhaps! {And if you want that project, come back next week!}

For ease of demonstration, we’re working with 6-inch squares today.

Step 2: Measure the first cut: Pop the paper into the paper-cutter and mark of at the 6-inch mark:

Now. this is where I start to cheat, because if there’s a way to make my life easier and less-wrought with math, I am going to find it and use it.

When you turn the paper to align your 6-inch mark with the blade-path, mark your second cut through the center-strip of the cutter’s ruler-arm:

This way, when you make your first cut in your paper…

… you can easily align your paper for the next cut because hey! They’re already marked for you, you smarty-pants!

All you have to do is toss them back into the cutter and give them one last zip:

Hurrah! You now have 12 pieces of 6-square-inch paper. Take a victory lap around your craft space in your fuzzy slippers! The measuring and math part is over!

Now! Onto the geometry!

Next: One at a time, fold your squares in half diagonally, so they turn into a triangle:

… And make sure to give it a good, sharp crease along the fold so you have a clear triangle:

Then: Take the points that sit on the crease in the paper and fold them both down to the third point, turning your triangle back into a square:

So the smaller square looks like this:


Now!: This is where it gets tricky. The two points that you’ve just folded down to the third point are sort of like little paper arms, all flappy and crazy and they don’t want to stay flat. That’s fine. We’re about to fold them backwards so that their inside edge lines up with the outside of the smaller square, so they look more like wings:

Both sides will look like this:

If you’re not crumpling paper up and tossing it toward the garbage, give yourself a reward of some sort. But don’t celebrate too hard, we’re not done yet.

Once you have wings: It’s time to open those suckers up and squash them flat! You’ll notice that the paper inside the wing-fold is doubled up. Pull the inner layer up and out of the wing, causing the wing to flatten out, like so:

Cheat: It all sounds so technical and precise, right? Yeah. To get my wings to open up and flatten out, I stuck my pointer finger between the doubled-up paper and gave a good wiggle, until the paper decided it was just easier to fold outward. You don’t have to be super-gentle here. The creases are already made on the paper, essentially you’re just inverting the inside crease so that the wings fan out, which, when both sides are complete will look like this:

I promise. This sounds a lot harder than it is, and once you try it you’ll see. You’ll have to trust me until then.

Now! More folding: Now that we have nice wings, take the tips of them and fold them back to that you have a square-ish shape once more.

You’ll have small white triangles facing you if you’re using one-sided paper, but they won’t show in your final product. It’ll look like this:

Whew. You’re a trooper. Another fuzzy-slipper victory lap! Or, at this point, if you’re still with me, I give you permission to judge me for my awful manicure. 🙂

The last crease: You’re going to want to take the parts of the wings that are outside the perfect-square shape and fold them inward along the crease that runs up their center:

They won’t stay flush, but they’ll look like this:

Hurrah! We are DONE FOLDING! Now, grab your handy craft glue and get excited!

Next: Put a thin layer of glue on one of the folded wing-tabs, like so:

Then: Gently curve the paper into a conic, petal-shape, pressing the wing-tab with the glue against the other wing-tab:

After this point, you’ll see three distinct paper tabs inside the petal. Two of them are folded that way, and the third is in the middle and is made of the two tabs you just glued together. Because you are a crafting bombshell!

Before you start patting yourself on the back again: Secure the newly-glued middle-tab with a bobby pin or paper clip:

Now, better safe than sorry: Run a thin layer of craft glue down the adjoined seam, just to make sure nothing pops open and gives you a fun surprise later in the project.

… And then stick it under a round, heavy object, the tip of the petal under the object, the glued seam facing skyward, so it does not stick itself to anything:

Repeat process for all the petals. Now. Once again, this is the hard part: WAIT FOR ALL THE PETALS TO DRY. You’ll know they’re dry when all your craft glue has turned from white to clear. Do not mess with the petals until all the glue is clear!

Because the next step is…

Pretend you are a monster: {I like to think I am one of The Wild Things}

In all seriousness, grab six petals and stick your fingers inside to make sure no glue oozed into the petal. If you skip this step, you will likely glue yourself to your project in the next step, which is what I did the first two {not once, count them, two times I went to build my flowers.

The next step: is, pretty simply, Take all the bobby pins out of the center of the dried petals and use them to clip 6 petals together, like a flower:

Sometimes, you will need to push the bobby pins around inside the petals to make sure they’re flush to the inside of the seam you’re trying to connect, and you really do not want to find out in 20 minutes when you go to extract your bobby pins that they are glued to the inside of your pretty flower.

That is why the Pretend you are a monster step is not only fun, it’s also important.

Once you have the petals clipped together: pull them all into a straight-ish line, smooshing them like an accordion:

Holding them like this makes them a lot easier to glue:

Cheat: You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Oh my goodness, there are 78 different seams. What am I gluing here?” To avoid double-gluing a seam that doesn’t need it, or missing a seam that does, here’s my cheat-rule of thumb… Glue the seams directly below the bobby pins. They’re the seams between petals that you’re trying to get to stick to one another.

Once you’ve finished with all the interior seams, which do not require a *ton* of glue, put a healthy dose of glue down the edge of the last petal:

Now: wrap the petals back into a circle, peek inside to make sure that anything that needs glue touching it has glue touching it, and fasten the last two unclipped petals together with one last bobby pin:

YES! You just made that. You deserve another reward.

So, flip that sucker upside-down to dry and go find something delicious to eat, after you wash the craft glue off your hands!

Craft glue is pretty tacky so it shouldn’t drip onto your work surface. If you use too much {which you will only do once, trust me} be prepared to pry your flower off your cutting mat with a pair of scissors or a pen-knife.

Cheat: Glue and dry your flowers over wax paper if you know you’re heavy-handed with the glue. It’s less likely to adhere with conviction to your flower, and less devastating to chip away from your project than, say, your cherry-wood table.

For an added effect, you can use Newspaper for these flowers {which is much more cost-effective}. I also coated some of the flowers with a translucent gold acrylic paint, which let the newsprint show through but gave it a more whimsical feel. I plan to use the same trick to add a little shine to my scrapbook flowers over the white bits that show around the center of the flower, and along the tips of the petals:

As always, if there are any questions or concerns, of if anything is unclear or impossible-to-understand, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me or harass me in the comments section. And if you’ve come across another origami flower, comment and let me know about it! If you try this at home, I want to hear about your successes and what cheats you came up with to make the project work for you!

Don’t forget, you crafty minxes… we’re all in this together. 🙂


  • Erin A.

    I have already made about 200 of these for my wedding. I prefer to make the larger sizes with only 5 petals and the smaller ones with 6 petals. Also, I didn't use any heavy object on mine… and they worked out just fine. I used Elmer's glue and some paperclips – they are time intensive, but beauties! You can also glue them together in groups of 12 to make a pomander!

  • Ariella

    My coworker made me one of these. I'm looking at it right now. It's held together with paperclips lol. She made them for a baby shower she had for a friend.

  • nichewhite

    Oh my Jesus, you have the patience of a saint, Mallory! But these are beautiful and I'm guessing your explanation is WAY better and much easier to understand than how it's written in any book! You are amazing. 🙂

  • You have turned this multi-step procedure into a VERY entertaining read! You are so right, the finished product is totally worth the effort, but (since I"m not brave enough to actually try making these anytime soon) I'm so content with just enjoying your success and the many chuckles your account caused!!!

  • I used double-sided tape, so I didn't have to be careful about holding of clipping or anything!

  • GirlNamedCorrie

    The double-sided tape was an awesome idea! I used my scrap booking double-sided tape. Anyone have ideas on what to use for stems?

  • Vintage Feel

    I bow down to your dedication. They look amazing, but I can't imagine a) having the patience to construct them or b) where I could use them!

  • This is really cool craft to do. with a bunch of these you can make a great flower arrangement.

  • dwr1127

    Any thoughts on the best way to add a stem to these?

  • NH teach

    I just saw a video of this posted somewhere else on the web. Instead of glue, the woman used double sided tape– might make it easier? I just got the quote from my florist and am debating whether or not to embark on this journey.