Pleated Paper Medallion… Thingies

Back in November of 2009 I came across the most amazing post on Design*Sponge, and I have been ridiculously excited about one particular DIY project ever since.


image via Design*Sponge; feature provided by Once Wed; photography by Jen Curtis; design by Gloria Wong Design; paper shapes by Lisa Wong Jackson of Good on Paper; flowers by Nancy Liu Chin

OMG, I can’t even put into words how enamored I am with every aspect of this look.

Mr. FW liked it, but he didn’t want to kiss and hug it in quite the same way I did (probably because he’s normal, and it’s not normal to want to kiss and hug pictures on a computer screen. Jus’ saying…). He did like the idea of paper décor suspended over the tables, though, so we started talking about how we could adapt those pleated paper medallions to better work with our wedding style and both of our personal aesthetics.

Here were our criteria: we knew we wanted to incorporate the graphic patterns we’ve woven through other projects, we liked the possibility of having a range of sizes including diameters over 12 inches, and the project needed to be affordable. Hmm… fun designs on large, affordable sheets of paper… Where could we find that? Ah yes, wrapping paper, of course!

I scooped up about 16 rolls of wrapping paper from Target, eBay, and The Container Store for a little less than $75. The tricky thing about estimating the amount you’ll need is that wrapping paper comes in different lengths, different amounts per roll, and different types of materials. The best deals by far were the large rolls from Target. The other thing we purchased was the Scor-Pal ($25), to help us make more precise accordion folds.


image via

Besides paper and a scoring board, the only other thing we used was to complete this project was our handy dandy glue gun. And now for the how-to.

First order of business, making the wrapping paper double-sided. To do this, Mr. FW cut it into squares and I used spray adhesive to stick one square to another. It’s helpful to roll the paper against itself to flatten it a bit before you glue it. Might I also suggest using a very large box in a very open space – so you don’t spray glue onto everything in your house and so you don’t get high as a kite in the process.


{cutting the paper, rolling it in the opposite direction to flatten it, putting the paper in the large box before spraying the adhesive, and sticking similarly-sized sheets together}

Next you just have to trim them up square. For squares less than 12″ we used our paper trimmer. For larger than 12″ we used a yardstick and cutting mat. You’ll need a pair of double-sided squares to make each pleated medallion. Once they’re squared up you can begin the scoring process. I wanted 1/2 inch folds, so on one side I made score lines 1 inch apart, then I flipped the paper over and scored the 1/2 inch marks, also 1 inch apart. Then you can accordion fold them.


{1″ folds, flipped paper over to make 1″ folds between the first folds, then accordion fold the paper}

Each accordion folded sheet now needs to be folded in half and glued to itself. The result is a fan shape that will be half of a finished medallion. (If you’re making smaller circles than I was then you can skip this middle step by starting with long rectangles rather than squares – as described in this tutorial.)


{fold, pinch the center to hold the shape, add hot glue – either all at once along the fold or a little at a time depending on the size of the medallion, then stick together}

Sometimes there would be a little extra tab of paper sticking out that I just trimmed up even with the other side. I used the same process to glue two “fans” together. Once the entire circle was together I noticed that some of the center pleats were expanding because they weren’t rigid enough, making the middle area fold in half. Dotting some hot glue in the middle of the pleats (on each side of the medallion) took care of this.


{trim any excess paper where the two fans come together, identify where the center of the medallion needs to be more rigid, add hot glue into those folds on both sides}

And that’s pretty much it, but I do want to share with you some other important things I learned along the way. If I were doing it all over again, I might prefer to stay away from really thick paper because it’s harder to fold, and I would stay away from really shiny (almost plastic-like) paper because it’s almost impossible for any glue other than super glue to stick to it. It’s also good to know that the finished size of the squares you start out with will be the same diameter of the circles you end up with. And finally, don’t worry if your accordion folds aren’t perfect because once the circle is completed the pleats are stretched out and it really doesn’t make a hugely noticeable difference.


{uneven folds aren’t noticeable when expanded}

We created about 90 of these in various sizes, and we’re still waiting to string them up across our house in order to determine if this will be enough to suspend over 80 feet of tables. I really hope it will be because, well, we used all the paper we had on-hand and we’re pretty ready to call this project ‘done.’ As for the time it took to create these, I estimate that Mr. FW and I worked together for about 20 hours each from start to finish. So it might not have been a super expensive project, but we paid for it in person-hours for sure. I’m hopeful that the visual impact will be all worth it in the end, though.

There are a lot of these pleated circles out there in blog land (also called pinwheels or rosettes). What’s your favorite kind, and have you ever used them for any of your own projects?


Ms. Ferris Wheel

San Francisco
Wedding Date:
November 2011
A DIY Dilemma: Resolved!
Just Try a Dress on for Heaven's Sake!
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  1. cinnamonbun Bee
    cinnamonbun 1116 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:47 pm

    That stripey paper has made very hypnotic rosettes…

  2. sweetcream Bee
    sweetcream 216 posts, Helper bee @ 3:02 pm

    I love your medallions! They are amazing & am sure that they will look awesome at your reception!!

  3. macarons Bee
    macarons 241 posts, Helper bee @ 4:11 pm

    These are going to be great! Good call on the wrapping paper, I would have never thought of that.

  4. snowcone Bee
    snowcone 1141 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:05 pm

    those look INCREDIBLE!! I kind of get dizzy looking at the complete one, but I just chalk that up to its awesomeness.

  5. tartlet Bee
    tartlet 3227 posts, Sugar bee @ 6:22 pm

    These look so cool! Looking forward to seeing them on display at your reception!

  6. Member
    mariewest 304 posts, Helper bee @ 6:36 pm

    Your paper medallion looks really cool. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s all done!

  7. Member
    miss.qwerty 206 posts, Helper bee @ 8:51 pm

    Those look really cool. Looking forward to seeing them in action.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Julie, Guest @ 9:38 pm

    I used Scor-Pal when making some of these for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower but I just love the pattern you chose and how it translated in the final design.

  9. Member
    Jenlon 2205 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:49 pm

    These are awesome!

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Cheri, Guest @ 7:31 pm

    If you made ninety that should work out to about one/foot if you’ve got 80′ of table

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