Monday, December 16, 2013

A New Kind Of Book Paper Garland

We all made paper chain garlands in pre-school, of course, and by now you've probably seen those gorgeous ruffle book page garlands over on Pinterest, but neither style was going to work for my Christmas tree. The chain was too small, and the ruffle was way too big - so I finally came up with a style that fit juuuust right:

It took a lot of ornament maneuvering, but I managed to fit the garland on there, after all! 
[Pro tip: it's always easiest to put the garland on first, not last. :D)

Here's a close up:

My idea was to make something that looks like crimped ribbon from a distance, and I think it works! And while it took me a long time to get the process down, once I did I managed to zip through each piece in about two minutes. It goes surprisingly fast, if you do it right!

So, here's how to do it right:

First, you will need:
- book paper
- scissors
- small paper brads (mine are brass, but use your favorite accent color)
- small paper eyelets (any neutral color - they won't really show)
- a Crop-A-Dile tool* OR eyelet setter (*link goes to Amazon; only $15!)
- two small paper alligator clips

Step 1) Trim the rough edge off your paper and accordion-fold it lengthwise:

2) Now trim off your last fold - the one with the blank side margin on it:

3) Use your fingers to gently pop out the center of your paper, like so:

4) Gather one end back into the accordion fold, and secure it with your paper clip:

5) Repeat on the opposite side:

6) Use your Crop-A-Dile or eyelet tool to set eyelets in either end of the paper:

This secures your folds in place, so no glue, tape, or staples needed.

And... you're done! See how fast that was?

If you want your garland a little skinnier - as I did - then at this point you can fold the top edge down and carefully scrunch the center folds together, like so:

Be careful not to force the folds too hard, though, or the center lines could rip.

Once you've made a bunch of these, use your brads to attach the ends together, making a long chain:

My brads were just barely long enough, but they worked!

Use your new paper garland on mantles, doorways, trees, slow-moving pets, etc, etc.

Oh, and fitting the paper garland on a tree isn't nearly as hard as I thought it'd be. Each paper section naturally curves inward, so it folds beautifully around the branches, and the sharp paper edges grip the needles so it won't slide off:

Tutorials for the paper bows and pinwheel/rosettes here.

I hope some of you will give this a try! I'm pretty hooked on making paper ornaments now, so I think I'm going to keep adding right up 'til Christmas, if not after.

That's it for me, so happy Monday, guys! 

(I can say that 'cuz I'm going to see the Osborne lights at Disney tonight, and it's going to be under 60 degrees for the first time this winter. BOOYAH.)

For my fellow pinners.

PS - Even with all its legions of uncredited/unsourced content, Pinterest still drives an incredible amount of traffic here to Epbot. So if you're one of those awesome people who actually pins correctly from the source - thank you. Truly.


  1. I try my best not to pin things that don't come from the original site. Sometimes things slip past me, but I (almost) always click the link and go through to make sure the website is legit.

  2. That is one gorgeous tree. All of the ornaments and garland are clever and fairly easy to make, but I'm curious about how you plan to store the garland. Just take out the brads and let each piece fold up again?

    1. Yeah... I hadn't really planned that far ahead yet. :D I guess I'll see how well I can fold the garland into a box, to help protect it from being crushed. There are four separate pieces, so hopefully I won't have to disassemble them further - and the brads allow them to twist, so I can layer them in a switchback pattern. Fingers crossed!

  3. nothing makes me more (irrationally?) mad then improperly sourced pins on Pinterest! what is the point of pinning something if clicking on it doesn't take you to the actual thing?! I always "like" things and then use my likes board as a queue for pinning later and i always check the source! If a photo links back to tumblr or something i drag it into Google Image search to try and find the original. only if the original can't be found do I pin it from tumblr/wherever.

  4. You terrible tease, you! I was hoping for another Lily-onesie pic with her wrapped in garland too!

    Also, I'm sure this has been brought up already but how do you justify destroying a beautiful book for your recent crafts? I don't think I'd be able to do it!

    1. She uses thrift-shop books.

      I've made e-reader covers from dollar store wine journals, but I'd have a hard time tearing up a book, too. Even old decrepit ones.

      Funny how we get so emotional about words on paper, isn't it? But some of the best times of my life have been in and/or because of books.

    2. Well, to be fair, the book I've been using was far from beautiful. ;)

      I must admit I don't have that kind of reverance for every book ever made, even though I adore the printed word as much as the next avid reader. Of course I'd never destroy anything precious, holy, or valuable, but a moldering paperback destined for the landfill? Why not give it new life as something else?

      Just my take, of course, but I've never understood the "all books are sacred" philosophy - there are just too many bad romance novels out there, taking up space. (Plus all the decorations on my tree only used about 1/4 of one book - so a little can go a long way!)

    3. Have you ever heard of angel hymn book ornaments? I tried to find instructions for them online but couldn't, so I wrote my own. I hope they're easy to understand!

      You take a hymn book, and rip out two pages.

      Take one of the pages and fold it accordion style lengthwise (We'll call this page 1), then take the second and fold it accordion style crosswise (and this one page 2).

      Take page 1 and turn it sideways, then fold it in the middle, so it looks like a fan (try to resist the urge to
      walk around fanning yourself and giggling). Then do the same with page two, but this one should be slightly smaller than page 1.

      Take page two and put the creased part over page 1 so it looks like a poofy dress and arms.

      Then you take string and put it up through the dress (yup, where the angel's nether regions would be) and over the arms tying the two together. After that you take a wooden ball with a hole through it and thread it through the string. Then you take a gold pipe cleaner bend it into a circle, and glue it onto the wooden bead, for a halo. Aaaand, you're done!

    4. Many used bookstores will actually have a selection of books for craft projects that are sold cheap or even given away. Books with beautiful illustrations/covers that are too damaged for reading material. Former best-sellers that were published in the millions and are now over-running their shelves.

      I have an *enormous* respect for the written word - and a personal library of around 30 thousand volumes! But I also spent 13 years working in bookstores. Used bookstores receive far more copies of certain books than they will ever sell (not to mention the books that arrive with missing pages, mold, bugs, unidentifiable stains...). Even a small store can fill a dumpster once a month with books destined for the recycling plant - and those were only the books we could not justify even using for craft projects or decorating!
      New bookstores are worse. They don't actually return unsold paperbacks to the publisher - only the covers as proof that they've been destroyed. Working in a small bookstore, we filled a dumpster once a *week* with discarded books headed for the landfill. Worse, corporate policy was that these books could not be recycled or given away as that was theft!

  5. Ooh! That is really cute! I have never been in charge of my own Christmas tree before (no room for a tree, visiting the in-laws, etc) but some day when I get do my own I will check back for this tutorial. For now I am keeping myself occupied making ornaments to give away.

  6. Thank you for another post full of awesome! I love making stuff out of old books. It was hard to tear down the first book, but I'm over it now. I look for interesting typeset, aged pages, little pictures, etc. So much fun!

  7. I love this one! I don't really like the fan ones that I've seen, but I love this one. If I were to have an actual tree (and maybe... there's still time... right? I would *try* to make this style.

  8. Good engineering on the garland!

    But WHY, why, why the excessive overcrowding of ornaments? To me the tree would be twice as beautiful if you took at least half of them off.

    1. Heh, and here, after going to the Festival of Trees - where most of the time you couldn't even SEE the tree for all the ornaments - I thought mine was on the sparse side!

    2. Ha! Here I was thinking about Jen's tree as an example of how nice a tree looks with little ornamenting!
      All over my family, everyone's trees are filled to the brim with ornaments and garlands, and ours once was so tilted with the weight we had to tie it to the nearest curtain rod with fishing line to keep it from tumbling over.
      I think it's all good. A christmas tree is supposed to make you feel joyful, so whatever floats your boat is good.

  9. Try maps instead of book pages for a different and steampunky look. I liked last year's map garland so much I left it up all year. I particularly like the style of the old National Geographic maps. They have the right tone. Oh, and I finally put some of my stuff up on deviantart, including those steampunk ornaments I made last year. Still don't have a decent camera, though, so the pictures are poor quality, but at least it's out there.

    1. Maps! Brilliant! Hmm, I wonder if I could find a bunch of old ones on Ebay ...

    2. Thrift stores are great for old maps -- or atlases or encyclopedias.

  10. I love trees that are stuffed full of ornaments. Nothing like trying to figure out which ornaments have to go on the back of the tree this year. Your tree looka great.

    -Melissa R.

  11. I think if you "un-pop" (not sure what the word should be for this) the centers and get them to fold back to the original accordion, you should be able to fold them neatly and quite flat. I'd definitely store them on top of the other ornaments or in a separate shoebox so there's little chance of tearing them during storage and removal next year. They are gorgeous, and though I would have a hard time ruining a good book, those cheap romance books would certainly be fair game or even one of those cheap copies of good books that they put out for students each year. Then the cover could be used for something as well- maybe a nice coupon holder or small purse.

  12. Fabulous! I was looking forward to seeing the finished tree and garland after the ornaments got a post. I've always been amused by the Christmas trees made of book piles, but would never want to give up my tree. This honors book loving and is still a real tree. Bet it would look great with sheet music too. I need a bigger house for the ideas you inspire! Virtual hugs and high fives. (Ps, Wave at Tower for me after you see the lights! Miss my old stomping grounds out there.)

  13. That garland looks absolutely awesomeness! I strive to create it next year. (Crossing my fingers so that I actually remember.)

    By the way, have I mentioned how jealous I am of your beautiful tree? Can you come decorate my house? :)

    Well done!

  14. I agree about using books for crafts. Where was it said that books are sacred and cannot be repurposed? I've been using the same four books for the past nearly three years to make crafts with. I've made ornaments, flowers, used them in scrapbooking and various other projects and gifts. My copy of HP and the Sorcerer's Stone had a broken spine and was destined for the trash at my last daycare job. One of the books was an old used second copy and the last two are books I already have nice copies of and got the craft copies from the dollar section of Target. The edge of my full length mirror in my bedroom is covered in book page flowers and always makes me smile. Anyway, your tree looks beautiful! Mine is such a random tree with no theme at all. There are multi-colored lights and ornaments of all kind. Pretty Jason Wu ones (my roommate's) and are with Grinch ornaments, Hello Kitty, a singing White Christmas ornaments, about twenty (no joke) that have my name thanks to my mom, a dinosaur, a whale, heck even Captain America is on there. My mini tree in my bedroom fulfills my need for pretty and order (although there's a random Cap ornament on there too); the big living room tree shows us.

  15. Under 60 is that, like, bring out the scarf and mittens weather? LOL!
    Beautiful tree! I really love the garland idea. Merry Christmas! Stay warm! :-)

  16. These are BEAUTIFUL! I will save the idea for next year's tree -- this year, we are doing Doge and Moon-Moon.

  17. Jen, your tree is jaw dropping gorgeous!!! I love your book page garland. I'm going to have to try something like that for next year. I love book page crafts and have a small collection of thrift store books to use for just such purposes. Thanks for the inspiration. I promise to pin with care. :)

  18. What is the story on those poinsettia ornaments? Those are gorgeous!

  19. As a librarian, I am simultaneously in love with and appalled by this tree... I'm like, "Oh, sweet, books!" and also "Oh my god what have you done to those books?????"

  20. I'm a couple years late to the party, but I made this for my tree this year, and it's beautiful, and I am not a very crafty person. I didn't use the eyelets, just punched holes and put the brads through, but my book pages (I used a thrift store copy of 'Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates' because I was hosting people who might actually *read* the decorations - ) are pretty sturdy and I think it will be okay for a few years use. Thanks for the tutorial!


Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>