A couple of months ago I tried my hand at making some tissue paper tassel garlands. I read a bunch of different tutorials, tried a couple different techniques and came up with a way that I think works nicely and isn't too hard, so I put together this little tutorial for you all so you can make your own!
What you'll need:
• tissue paper & mylar (optional) in however many colours you want
I use tissue paper from the dollar store that comes folded up in little packets. I suppose if you wanted you could try to find tissue paper that is sold flat and unfolded, but I like to keep costs down (these packs are like, a dollar for ten sheets of paper) and once you've finished making the tassels the extra fold lines aren't that big of a deal.
• twine or cord
• hot glue gun & glue sticks
• paper trimmer
I've seen a lot of different techniques used for cutting the tissue paper, and for me what's worked best is a paper trimmer, which I got at a discount housewares store for $24. I tried using scissors and an exacto knife and both were a disaster, so if you don't have a paper trimmer like this one I would suggest using a rotary cutting tool with a metal-edged ruler and a cutting mat.
The tassel technique is a seven-step process: fold, cut, unfold, refold, roll, twist, glue. It's a little tedious at times but it's pretty easy.
Take a sheet of tissue paper and lay it flat.
Fold it in half.
I fold widthwise because it is exactly the right size to fit in my 12" paper trimmer, but if you are using a different cutting technique or have a different size of paper trimmer you could fold it lengthwise. Either way works equally well.
Put the folded tissue into the paper trimmer (or on your cutting mat).You want to start at the open edge and cut towards to folded edge
Cut the tissue into strips about 1/2" to 3/4" wide. These don't have to be perfectly measured, you can just eyeball them.
Leave about 1" to 1 1/2" uncut at the folded edge.
Keep cutting strips until you've fringed the whole sheet.
If you are confident in your cutting skills, you can stack a couple of sheets and cut them together and you'll be done more quickly, which is great since this is the most tedious step.
Unfold your fringed tissue sheet so that there is fringe on either side of a connected center. In the middle of each row of fringes will be an extra-wide one from where it was folded. You can either leave this as-is or cut it into two strips with your scissors (or rotary cutter).
Sometimes the cutting can make the layers stick together so to prevent tearing I slide my hand into the fold so the sheet is hanging on my arm and carefully pull the fringes apart.
Fold the sheet in half the opposite way, so there is still fringe on either side of a connected center, just with a double thickness.
Starting at the folded edge, roll up the connected center of the tissue.
Continue until the whole sheet is rolled up.
As you roll, the fringes will get tangled up, so every three or four rolls you should untangle them by gently running your fingers through them. It's not a big deal if you accidentally tear off a couple of strips while doing this, obviously you don't want to rip out a big handful but two or three coming off is fine.
Once the sheet is rolled up you need to twist the connected center.
Try not to twist too hard or the tissue may tear in half, which is really frustrating after all the work you did cutting and folding and rolling!
Form the twist into a loop...
... and twist it around itself. Make sure the hole left in the twisted loop is big enough to accommodate the cord the tassels will hang on.
Untwist the loop slightly and dab hot glue onto inner sides of the twist, then retwist, squeezing the glue together.
(sorry this pic is out of focus :/)
And voila! A finished tassel!
Beautiful. You can also make mini-tassels (like on my yellow/grey/silver/black/white garland) buy cutting each sheet of tissue into quarters before following these instructions.
Obviously it is more efficient to make your tassels all at once so I like to cut a big heap of fringed sheets and then roll, twist and glue them.
You can use the exact same technique for the mylar sheets as for the tissue paper, with a couple of notes:
• Mylar can be tricky to cut and slides around when folded, so take extra care or you might find yourself getting really frustrated. Don't try to cut more than one sheet of mylar at a time.
• Unlike tissue paper, mylar won't hold the rolling and twisting without being glued, so what I do is roll them all and put a slightly heavy object on top of them (just a pair of medium- or large-sized scissors would work) to hold the rolls, and then after gluing all the tissue paper tassels, I twist each mylar tassel and glue it right away.
Once you've made as many tassels as you want, simple hang them on a length of cord or twine. I think most people use that satin-y looking cord, but I didn't have any so for this garland I used some metallic gold cord. You could also use ribbon, or whatever you like.
Cut your cord to the length you want your garland to be. The type of metallic cord I used tends to unravel when cut, so I knotted the very end, and then made a loop with a second knot, so it would be easy to hang the finished garland.
Before stringing your tassels you want to lay them out. You can do a symmetrical pattern, or a gradient, or just randomized. Whatever you want! I like the random look best.
Then, simply string the tassels onto the cord!
There you have it: a perfectly pretty, homemade tissue and mylar tassel garland for a fraction of the cost of a pre-made one.
If you use this tutorial to make your own I'd love to see the results- you can leave a comment, can tweet at me, or post it on the facebook page. Or if you have any questions about the technique or think any of the instructions need clarification please let me know!
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