DIY Tutorial: Tissue Paper Garlands

It's been a busy week or so preparing for Marquina + Dan's wedding at the end of the month. Our décor plan is focused on color, geometric shapes and natural materials. Nothing too serious or over the top, but by bringing in pops of their wedding colors to compliment the natural raw loft space, we're making some great progress!

One project I just completed is garlands made from squares of tissue paper. You may remember this stuff from kindergarten craft-time. Back in the day, we would dip the squares in glue, scrunch them and use to color a simple shape - like this heart for Valentine's Day.

In all, I sewed 6 garlands - ranging in 25' - 40'. The squares are available in various prepackaged sets and it only takes a small amount to make a big impact. I used three colors, white, lavender and lime and ended up using only one package, which kept the project under $8 - talk about budget-savvy!


  • Tissue Paper Squares: Oriental Trading Company had the best selections I found. Their price for a set of 8 colors (625 squares of each color) is just $4.99.
  • Thread: I used standard white sewing thread. Originally I purchased clear thread, but it kept breaking in the sewing machine. The white worked perfectly and I used less than 1 full spool (including the thread for the bobbin).
  • Sewing Machine: I had to do some tests first with the tension since tissue paper is very brittle to sew. A chain stitch worked perfectly to hold the pieces just right.

Here's a little step-by-step recreation:

  1. I started by separating the squares of tissue paper and organizing them by color. This took a little more time then expected, but it makes sewing a breeze.
  2. My sewing machine was threaded with white thread and with some gentle pressure on my foot petal, I kept a slow, constant pace, alternating the three colors.
  3. Close-up detail of the spacing used for the squares. Some were layered on top of each other and others we're spaced out a little wider, as in this example.
  4. Detail of the finished garland

Prudent Baby has a a cute modified version of this project using petal shaped tissue paper. This Martha Stewart Weddings feature was the original inspiration behind this project!

Posted on August 10, 2010 and filed under Behind the Scenes, Decor, Party Supplies.