Decorative Pinwheels

I love pinwheels, friends.

I mean, obviously. They are all over this site.

But, I made that choice because I think there is just something so carefree, so innocent and childlike about them. In short, they make me happy and reminiscent every time I see one.

I can’t believe I only just sat down and figured out how to make them. There’s barely anything to figure out! If you can use a ruler and a straight edge blade, you can make a pinwheel. Even more exciting than that is they are easily customized to fit any party theme (as most crafts I make tend to be are), and they can just as easily be made any size to fit any space.

I really hope these become the next “hanging pomp poms.” I love them that much. Maybe more because they are so much faster to make. Admittedly it is because I make them purely as decorations…they don’t spin. I you wanted to you could adapt them to make them spin, it’s an extra step or two and a specific material.  I’ll explain later on.  (In step 4 of ‘All the Details,’ to be specific.)

So, here’s the quick rundown for those who just want the basic synopsis. If you like longer, more explicit directions with a sprinkle of anecdotal awesomeness, continue on to “All the Details.”

The Short and Sweet:

1.       Start with any size perfect square. Cut each corner diagonally towards the center. (The ratio I came up with is: for every 4’’ of square, cut each corner 2.5’’. Increase the length cut buy 1/2'' for every inch larger the square is.)

2.       Bend one of each the corners over to the center and secure.

3.       Add an embellishment in the center and a stick to the back, if you like.

4. Display and enjoy!


All the Details:

1.       Decide where the pinwheel is going so you know how big to make it and what type of material you will make it out of.

For me, this is the key to being happy with almost any project. Plan, plan, plan!

I have made these out of a double layer of tissue paper, cardstock, and regular weight paper. Regular weight paper is the easiest because it bends easily. If you do decide you want a regular weight scrapbook paper check to see that it is either blank on the back or (even better) has another pattern. Keep in mind cardstock is so stiff it can be hard to get away with using only double sided tape  for a good hold in the center. Felt holds the shape nicely and is easily secured with hot glue but it usually comes in solid colors, the printed ones are not double sided, and there are less choices than in that big beautiful aisle of scrapbook paper arranged neatly in trays. Not that I am imposing my personal bias here. You use whatever material makes you giggle like a child with candy.

For this project I wanted it to go quickly and easily because I was really tired (story of my life) so I used a beautiful regular weight, double sided paper.

Here it is along with the rest of my supplies and tools:


2.       Trim your paper so that it is a perfect square.

If there is a label along the bottom of the paper, trim that off first.


Cut scrapbook paper into four 6-inch squares.


3.       Cut each corner at a perfect diagonal (45° angle). The ratio I use is: for every 4’’ sized square, cut each corner 2.5’’. Go up ½ an inch for every inch larger your square is.


These are 6’’ squares, so I cut 3.5’’ in from each corner. Top Left, Bottom Right...


Top Right, Bottom Left.


4. Bend and secure the corners to the center.

Place an adhesive circle in the center of your pinwheel. You want to place it on what was the back side of your paper. It will become the front. Sort of. You'll see. By the way: I like to use a 3d adhesive circles because it gives the pinwheel dimension and makes it easier to secure the corners down. I highly recommend them. 


Starting with the upper left hand corner of the square, bend one side of the cut corner down to the middle of the square. I like to use the side to the right of the cut because then the pinwheel looks like it’s turning from left to right. It’s a thing I have. I always organize things from left to right. I am not sure if it’s so many years of teaching young readers and writers where to start, but, it just looks right to me. Also, I think I have a mild case of undiagnosed OCD. I’m okay with it.

(I added a dab of glue to the 3d adhesive circle just to ensure a good hold.)

 Go around clockwise and do the same thing for all the corners, securing the center each and every time with glue. It has to be clockwise or it won’t look pinwheel-y. Trust me.

The upper right hand corner is next:


Followed by the lower right hand corner:


End with the lower left hand corner:


And as far as what you use to secure, well that depends on what material you decided on, where it’s going, and how long it needs to last. The heavier the weight of the paper, the stronger the bond needs to be (ie: really good adhesive squares/circle, hot glue on the low setting). For cardstock I have used a needle and thread because I am clutzy enough that everytime I use hot glue I burn myself and everytime I use super glue I glue my finger to the project. Don’t you feel better about yourself now?

For this project I used Krazy Glue to save time and regretted it with every corner I glued my finger to. I really have no excuse. It's a brush applicator for crying out loud!

 If it is going to be an outdoor celebration or you are making these well in advance (as is always my story) I strongly suggest a needle and thread.

If you want it to spin, here's what you need to have and do:

  • Find brads that are specially made for this project (if you do, let me know!) or have long prongs (those are the back pieces that bend into place) that are less flat and more rounded. Or at least not very wide. The paper won't move around a wide flat piece very well, if at all.
  • To secure you’ll need to push a brad through each corner in the center, as well as through the back (where I placed my 3d adhesive square). Sort of twist the paper around the brad so it is not tight and can spin.
  • Then carefully glue the brad prongs to a stick. If any glue gets between the paper and the brad, it won’t spin. And that right there is why I have never attempted to make mine any other way than decoratively. Me and glue, we don’t get along. There’s usually cursing involved. Also, brads are not my fave because they will usually crease or worst case scenario, rip, your paper unless you make a pilot hole. And I never seem to remember that until it’s too late.


5. Add an embellishment to the center.

Buttons and round jewels are always fun. A small craft pom pom is a great option as well. Once I left the center plain on a pinwheel and thought it looked a bit more clean and modern. A little more appropriate for an adult party, maybe?


Repeat 3 more times and you have a set of four. If your paper is double sided, consider flipping the paper over for 2 of them for some visual interest.


6.       Add a stick, if desired.

If you want the pinwheel to be oriented the way it is in the previous picture, which is a little more squared off, glue the stick (or in my case, straw) to the back, parallel to one of the straight edges.


If you want the pinwheel to be oriented a little more diagonally, glue the stick to the back at a diagonal from one of the straight edges. This is way I chose to glue it for this project.


There ya have it. You know how to make pinwheels now!

Naptime warriors: you could bust out a whole mountain of these during one naptime. These took me less than a half an hour. (I am not counting the extra 30 minutes of picture taking.)


Go forth and craft these beauties.


This is about what you can expect to spend on consumable supplies:


I actually had everything but the scrapbook paper laying around, so this was only a $0.25 project for me!


And you know that if you make these I want pics! Please post to the Flickr group so I can see what you came up with!

Happy crafting and whatever you make, make it yours!


If you liked this tutorial, these might be right up your alley. Have a look: