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Card making - Iris Folding


Beginners Guide to Card Making using Iris Folding - Part 2

Click here if you haven't yet read Card Making using Iris Folding - Part 1

The choice of papers for iris folding is endless: you can include gold or silver, use delicate tissue or origami papers or stronger wrapping or household papers. Either combine strong colours and bold designs or create subtle pictures by employing different shades of a single colour.


All the patterns have an empty space in the centre. This is conventionally filled with a small piece of holographic paper but many people prefer to use an extra piece of one of the papers already used in the main pattern.

Cutting your shape

Once you find a pattern you like, trace just the outline (not the numbered sections) onto a piece of card. In iris folding, you work from the back and temporarily stick the aperture over the pattern. If you want to use a separate piece of card that will be fixed onto the front of your card blank later, it doesn't matter which way you transfer the outline. However, if cutting the front of the card itself and using an asymmetrical shape, make sure you reverse the tracing before drawing it onto the card. Then when the shape is cut out, you can turn your card over before fixing it down over the pattern.

Some iris fold shape outlines are quite complicated, so if you are not expert with a craft knife and cutting mat the easiest way to cut your aperture is to make a hole in the centre and then use sharp scissors to cut it out from inside the shape itself.

Cutting the paper strips

You want a clean edge for each strip, so the ideal width for your papers is about 1" (2.5 – 3 cm) as you can then fold the strips sharply along their length and position the folded edge carefully along the black lines of the pattern.

If you find some attractively patterned paper that is quite thick, you can still use it in a single thickness but just take care it has a good straight edge.

Assembling the pattern

When following iris fold patterns it is very important to work from 1 – 25+ in the correct order. If you miss out one number, your colours will not match in single finished blocks.

You need to work on a flat surface so you may want to photocopy patterns if they are in a book. Many patterns are shown in black and white, so use coloured pencils to colour each section and make a key to help you identify which papers relate to which numbered sections. It is very easy to lose count when you start to get into the smaller, central areas of the pattern.

After sticking the cut-out over the pattern using masking tape, take a folded paper strip of Paper 1 and position it across section 1. Tear off any extra length with your fingers and use sticky tape or a dab of glue to stick both ends of the paper strip down onto the back of the aperture card. Make sure you do NOT stick any paper to the underlying pattern or allow any glue or tape to show inside the aperture. Now take a strip of Paper 2 and repeat this with section 2.

Continue round the pattern, repeating the use of all your papers in the correct sequence and making sure no gap is left between the sections.

Some patterns have strange numbering e.g. they leave out some sections, so make sure you do the same and use the correct paper for each section according to your key.

If your pattern has more than one cut-out showing the same number (perhaps for a leaf or stem, for example), lay a longer strip across all of these before sticking it down.

Finishing off

When you have completed all the sections, carefully remove the masking tape and turn your card over to display the completed picture. You can now hold different coloured papers behind the central space and decide which one to use to finish it off.

For an aperture you have cut directly into the front of a card, prepare an extra piece of paper or card (or use a card insert) and stick it with double sided tape to disguise your strips. With a separate piece of card, trim it to size before sticking it down onto your card blank.

You can now add any finishing touches such as borders, greetings and extra cut-outs, for example to represent flowers, handles or antennae.

Click to return to Beginners Guide to Card Making using Iris Folding - Part 1

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