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Planning Retirement Online

Handicrafts in later life    May 2006

Introducing our new Handicrafts column

Tea Bag Folding

First of all, it’s not tea bags as you know them. Tea bag folding gets its name from the colourful paper packets that fruit and herb teas are wrapped in.

Fortunately, you no longer have to seek out discarded tea bag packets.


This simple origami technique, also known as kaleidoscope folding, originated in Holland and has now swept the world. Beautiful stars, rosettes and medallions are easily produced and they can be used to decorate cards, to embellish paper craft projects, to add that special touch to handmade gifts, boxes, bags, books, scrapbooks, memory albums and more.

A wealth of specially manufactured papers is now widely available in a huge range of colours. Each sheet of paper is divided into small squares which are designed to be cut out and folded into different designs.

One of the best things about tea bag folding is that many different variations of a design can be created using the same paper. The unusual name has aroused curiosity in the craft world and beyond, and has been much talked about in magazines, papers and on television. (Teabag folding, published by Search Press, was runner-up of the most absurd title in The Bookseller.)

Specialist art and craft book publishers, Search Press, have provided an extract from their Tea Bag Folded Greetings Cards by Kim Reygate to whet your appetite and get you hooked on this compelling craft.



Often, when creating a card, I do not have a finished size in mind – it just seems to evolve. I therefore tend to use flat sheets of card which I score and fold, then trim as necessary. In this project I use this method to create a square card, but it can just as easily be used to form any shape or size.
An insert adds a professional finish to a card and, if a dark colour has been chosen for the card, a lighter, compatible coloured insert will enable the greeting to be seen.
Be proud of your work and sign the back, and don’t forget the envelope. It is so much nicer if it has been embellished to match the card.


You will need:


Sheet of printed tea bag papers
A4 (8? x 11?in) sheet of cream card
Green and yellow paper
Gold craft stickers and tweezers
Plain and deckle-edged scissors
Craft knife, metal ruler and cutting mat or rotary trimmer
Bone folder
DSST, low-tack tape and
all-purpose adhesive

(these are available at handicrafts stores and some department stores)






  1. Mark the centre point on both long edges of card, then use a bone folder to score across the card between these points.

2. Fold and crease.


3. Cut the folded card
to a 14cm (5?in) square.




4. Cut two 8cm (3?in) squares of green paper. Place DSST on the back of both, then peel back the ends of the backing paper and fold to form tabs. Position one green square on a slightly larger square of yellow paper and firm down the exposed tape.



5. Hold the green square in position, pull off strips of backing paper, then firm along the edges.




6. Trim the yellow square to leave a narrow border all round. Repeat steps 4–6 with the other green square and another yellow square.



7. Use four strips of DSST to secure one of the yellow/green squares diagonally on the front of the folded card.


8. Mount the second square over the first to form an eight-point star.



9. Use a craft knife to trim the craft stickers to the desired length, then use tweezers to lift the sticker from the backing sheet.


10. Place the sticker on to the card.




11. Use low-tack sticky tape to lift some waste dots from the backing sheet.


12. Use the bone folder to apply pressure through the low-tack tape to transfer the dots on to the card.



13. Referring to the triangle fold details on pages 14-15, fold eight triangles and assemble them as a rosette.


14. Use two strips of DSST to secure the rosette in the middle of the eight-point star.



15. Referring to page 18, fold and cut a piece of green paper to create an insert. This should be slightly smaller than the folded card.


16. Place DSST on either side of folded edge of the insert.



17. Remove the backing tape and secure the insert in the folded card.


The finished card together with a matching gift tag and envelope


  Laterlife customers can order Teabag Folded Greetings Cards by Kim Reygate, at the special offer price of ?5.99 (rrp ?6.99) post free in the UK, by calling Search Press on Tel 01892 510850 and quoting Offer closes on 31st May 2006. To see the complete list of art and craft titles by Search Press, log on to


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