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Guide to Iris Paper Folding

Originating in Holland, Iris Paper Folding has travelled the globe to become the popular and impressive papercraft it is today. Creating a gorgeous spiral design that looks like a camera lens or the iris of an eye, this paper folding technique is a fun way to create beautiful designs in an array of shapes and sizes. Simple to learn, why not give this thrilling craft a go.


iris container

What is iris paper folding?

In a fun coiled pattern, you layer and tape down colour-coordinated strips of paper or fabric onto a cut-out shape to create a camera lens appearance. Your cut-out shape can be anything from a simple circle to a flower to create your wonderful design.

Where can it be used?

This gorgeous paper folding technique can be used in a wide array of DIY projects. You could use them to make impressive greetings cards, add lovely details to scrapbook pages, frame them to create charming standalone decorations and much more.

What do you need?

An iris paper folding pattern, many free ones can be found online

Colourful paper or fabric to create the folded design, thin material is better for this if you want to prevent your design from bulking up too much. You’ll want at least three different colours or designs, depending on the pattern you choose.

Scissors and tape

Card to cut out your chosen shape

Cutting mat and crafting knife for neat lines

iris square

How is it done?

It may sound complicated at first but once you understand the process, and have had a few practise tries, you’ll be wanting to add them to everything.  

  • Start by cutting your paper or fabric up into strips and fold in half lengthways. Keep your different colours/designs in separate piles.
  • Place your chosen pattern in the middle of the piece of card, trace around it and then cut out the shape, using a cutting mat and knife, so you have a neat hole in your card. This will be the frame of your design.
  • Turn over the card, position and tape down your pattern so the numbers and letters are showing through the hole at the back. The part you’ll be working on will be the back of the overall design, so don’t worry about it looking messy.
  • Assign each different type of strip a letter that coordinates with the pattern and then start layering them. Lay the strips in the number order that appears on the pattern. 1A will be the first strip you tape down, making sure you use the colour strip you have assigned as group ‘A’ and then you tape down 2B with one of the ‘B’ group strips.
  • You continue to go around in the spiral design adding strips until you just have the small hole left in the centre. To fill this you can add a small photograph, illustrations or just a piece of coloured card.
  • Trim away any access strips that are poking out the sides. You can cover the back with a piece of card or paper to protect your design and hide the messy appearance.
  • Then turn it over to reveal your beautiful iris design.


If you fancy taking up an exciting new papercraft, iris paper folding will be perfect for you. Have a browse through our extensive Arts and Crafts collection to find a variety of supplies that are sure to inspire creativity.

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