How to Make Paper Pinwheels – The Easy Way

I have been meaning to do a tutorial on these paper pinwheels or medallions, however you prefer to call them, that served as the backdrop for Hazel's sunshine birthday party. When I was figuring out how to make these, I found there are already plenty of pinwheel tutorials out there, but I'm going to give you some shortcuts and tricks that you won't find elsewhere. So if you want to make a bunch of medallions relatively quickly, that are going to look great, actually stick to the wall, and not require precise measuring – read on!

Supplies for Paper Medallions 

  • Colorful scrapbook or wrapping paper (the larger the sheets, the bigger the pinwheels you can make)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Double sided tape
  • Hot glue
  • Stapler
  • Cardboard scraps


How to Make Paper Medallions (the Easy Way!)

1. First cut a strip of your paper however wide you want it (this will determine the 'radius' of the pinwheel). Somewhere between 5-10 inches wide works well. Just eyeball it. Then use your ruler to start marking off a few folding guides. The wider the paper, the more space you want between the guides. So for a 10 inch wide strip of paper, the folding marks might be 1 inch apart, while a 5 inch wide strip of paper might have marks 1/2 inch apart. You can play around with it.
2. Here's a big shortcut – a lot of tutorials tell you to measure out folding marks along the entire length of the paper and then score them. That takes way too long, and there is no need to be that precise! I just made 4-5 marks and then started folding the paper accordion style (just like you used to do in grade school to make a fan). I used the marks as a guide to start folding and then kept folding the paper back and forth over each other until it looked like this:
You'll notice that the paper isn't lined up perfectly (like it would be if I scored each fold in advance), but that is totally ok!
3. Then snip off one end at an angle to make pretty points on the medallion:
It will look like this when you unfold it. Repeat the same process by making two more of these (be sure to cut the same width of paper and make the same sized folds on each of them). 
4. Once you have 3 pieces of accordion folded paper, attach them together using double sided tape. The pinwheel starts to take shape!
5. Another tricky step that the tutorials I read didn't do a great job explaining is how to get the pinwheel to hold together nice and tightly in the middle. I found that stapling a few of the folds together on the backside of the pinwheel did the trick. You'll be covering up the center of the medallion with a circle so the staples will never show:
6. Here's the best trick of all! I owe my husband for coming up with this genius idea for how to create a flat, sturdy surface for the pinwheel to adhere to the wall. As you can see the folds of the pinwheel don't make for a great surface. You could try putting a bunch of masking tape on the back and hope it sticks, but there's a good chance it will fall off the wall at some point during your party.

So what we did was first cut 3 small strips of cardboard and stapled them to the back side of the pinwheel and then folded them over:

We then put a piece of double-sided tape and hot glue on top of each, so we could adhere a bigger piece of cardboard to create a flat hanging surface:
From here you could just put a couple big loops of painters tape or masking tape and hang on the wall! Mine stayed up on the wall for several days before I finally brought myself to take them down. They are so pretty, I think they would make a neat permanent arrangement in a nursery, dining room, office, etc.  If you plan to do something more permanently, you might want to try something more like 3M Command Strips.
7. Finally, on the front of the medallion, I hot-glued a circle of card stock to form the middle:
And that's it!  You can see I purchased a few tissue paper fans to incorporate into the paper ones I made.  I just hot-glued a card stock circle in the middle of those as well:
Post by Haeley : Design Improvised
  • inket paper wide format

    I have been meaning to do a tutorial on these paper pinwheels or medallions, however you prefer to call them, that served as the backdrop

  • jenn

    love this…i think this will be the theme for my daughters first birthday!! how did you make the big one in the center with the waves on the face of the pinwheel?

  • jamie

    the length of paper you used would be helpful to know. i tried following this using scrapbook paper, 12×12 and three sheets were not enough for each pinwheel.

  • Erin Crouch

    Thanks for the tutorial. I found it very helpful. I’m going to be making some of these for my son’s birthday party!