Introduction: DIY Mini Chinese Lanterns | Simple Card Project

About: Multi-crafter, jewellery maker, card designer and frequent procrastinator.

This Instructable will show you how to make some fun little Chinese lanterns, which you can hang individually or attach together in a garland.

I'll show you one version with red card, and another with acetate & crepe a coupld of other variations you can try.

I really hope you enjoy this project!


- Thin red A4 card; one sheet per lantern. If you want larger lanterns, feel free to use A3 paper/card sizes throughout instead.

- Gold thread or cord; I used size 8 gold crochet thread and 1 mm gold satin nylon cord to make the tassels. I think I prefer the thread, but it's up to you which type to use.

- Pencil; I used a white pencil, but any will do.

- A gold paint pen/marker pen/paint; this is if you want the gold lines on the red card. I used a gold paint pen, and it was very easy to use.

- A scrap piece of thick cardboard (e.g. from a cardboard box)

- A4 white printer paper; to make the template from.

- Superglue

- PVA glue; plus something to put the glue on/in.

- Strong double-sided tape; no more than 5 mm wide ideally, although you could cut the pieces down to size.

- Strong thread; this is for hanging the lanterns up. I used invisible thread so that it couldn't be seen running through the centre of the lanterns.

- Scissors

- Ruler

- X-acto knife; or some other method to score lines in the thin card.

- Sewing needle

- Cutting mat (optional); could use scrap cardboard instead.

- An awl

- Clothes peg; for holding glued parts together whilst they dry.

- If you would like to make the other version of the lantern that I show, then you will also need: a marker pen, an acetate sheet and red crepe paper.

Step 1: Create the Template

This method helps you to create a sort of star shape with equally spaced 'petals'.

- First, take an A4 sheet of white paper and fold over a corner at the bottom of the page so that the bottom edge now lines up with the side edge. Cut off the rectangle of single-layer paper at the top, to leave you with a folded triangle.

- Fold this triangle in halfalong the long edge and then unfold it.

- Take a ruler and mark a point 3" from the 90 degree corner, along one side edge. Also mark the point on the long edge where the fold (that you just made) begins. Join these 2 marks with a ruler.

- Fold the paper along this line, then take the other point of the triangle and fold that over too, so that this fold lines up with the edge of the other triangle point.

- This should give you a shape like shown in the last photo.

Step 2: Finishing the Template

Draw a pencil line down the centre of the folded shape you have made.

Then draw a petal-like shape as shown, and try and make it as symmetrical as possible.

Notes: At the bottom point of the folded shape, make sure that the pencil lines start about 1 cm away from it on each side. And also make sure that there are 6 layers of paper beneath where you make the pencil outline, particularly at the top; you may have to start drawing a little below where the paper pieces cross.

Step 3: Cut Out the Lantern Shape

Now take the paper template and place it onto an A4 sheet of thin red card. Place it so that it is in the centre, and at least 1 cm or so away from the edge on all sides.

Then use a pencil to draw around the template.

At the end of each petal, add a circle as shown in the photo. The circle should be around 1 cm across. If you can use a glue stick or similar to draw around in order to create the circle shape, then that would be neater.

Cut this shape out - including the circles.

Then place the shape on top of a scrap piece of paper, and add a gold line around the edge of the shape. I used a gold paint pen to do this. Just be careful, because this kind of marker is permanent and will paint on anything!

Step 4: Make a Tassel

You can make a tassel using all sorts of threads, but I chose to use some 1 mm satin cord and some crochet thread, both in gold colour.

Cut 2 pieces of cord/thread that measure around 10-12" long, and leave these to one side.

Then cut out a scrap piece of cardboard that measures 3" wide. (This is how long the tassels will end up).

Wrap the cord/thread around this piece of cardboard, as shown, until you think there is enough there to make a tassel.

Then take one of the 10" lengths, and push one end under the wrapped cord/thread. Position it at one side of the cardboard, with an equal length of cord either side of the wrapped cord. Then double knot tightly.

Push the wrapped cord off the card piece, and place it onto the centre of the other 10" length of cord. This single cord length should lie at most 1" from the top of the wrapped cord.

Tie the single cord around the wrapped cord in a double knot. Wrap each end of the cord a couple of times around the wrapped cord before feeding it down through these horizontal wraps you have just made, and into the body of the tassel.

Cut through all the loops at the bottom of the tassel and trim the ends to make them neat.

Step 5: Attach the Tassel

Place the card shape upside down (with the gold lines underneath) onto a cutting mat or a piece of scrap cardboard.

Use an awl to add a hole to the centre, and also to the middle of each little circle shape.

Use your fingers to curl the card upwards in a smooth curve.

Push the 2 loose ends connected to the tassel up through the hole in the centre of the shape. Make a knot with the 2 loose ends so that the tassel hangs where you want it underneath the shape. I would recommend having the tassel about 1" below the lantern is best.

Cut a long piece of invisible thread, and tie the centre of this thread around the tassel cord, just underneath the knot you just made. This piece of thread needs to be approx. 70 cm long.

Superglue the tassel knot (and the centre of the piece of invisible thread) onto the red card and leave to dry.

Step 6: Assemble the Lantern

Feed both loose ends of the invisible thread into a sewing needle.

Then push this needle & thread through each hole at the end of each petal, moving from inside to outside, and going through the petals one at a time in a circle.

After threading 2 petals together, add a tiny bit of PVA glue between the 2 little circle shapes and hold them together for a couple of minutes (I used a peg to do this). Then thread the next petal and repeat...and so on, until all the little circle shapes have been glued together.

Pulling the invisible thread tighter makes the petals 'bunch up' a bit more.

Keep a peg (or similar) in place to keep the circles stuck together until the glue dries.

Then add a drop of superglue on the hole at the top for extra security and to keep the invisible thread in place too.

Leave to dry.

You can just make a loop in the invisible thread at the top and finish here if you like :) Or you could add a couple of extra embellishments as shown in the steps below. It's up to you!

Step 7: Alternative Materials: Acetate & Crepe Paper

I also went through the same lantern-making process but using acetate sheets and red crepe paper instead. If you like the look of this design, feel free to try these materials too!

I used the same paper template as in previous steps and drew around it with a marker pen onto an acetate sheet. Again, I added the little circle shapes at the end of each petal.

Note: I used a thick black marker pen to make it easy to see, but you should use something much fainter/finer - or in a red colour - so that the lines will not be seen in the finished lantern.

(I also drew some more lines just inside the edges of the petals, as shown in photo #3. You don't need to draw these; I just wanted to show the area that is going to removed shortly.)

Cut out the acetate shape. Then use this shape as a template to cut the same shape out of red crepe paper.

Cut the sides off each acetate petal, as shown in the photos, to make the petals much thinner. The acetate is for support only and we don't really want to showing in the final lantern.

Finally, use double-sided tape to attach the acetate and crepe paper shapes together, and then add holes in the centre and in the centre of each small circle.

Step 8: Alternative Materials: Acetate & Crepe Paper

Then the same process is used to assemble this lantern as was used to assemble the original card lantern.

First attach the tassel by feeding the loose ends up through the centre of the shape, and using a knot to keep it in the correct position.

Then cut a long length of invisible thread and tie the centre of it under the knot you just made. Then glue this onto the red card and leave to dry.

One difference I made when making this lantern was to use double-sided tape rather than PVA glue to attach the small circles together during the next step. This just made it a bit easier and neater, although afterwards I did need to add a little glue to further secure the circles together.

So at this point, add short lengths of double-sided tape to the outside of the crepe paper shape; one piece next to each hole at the end of each petal.

Then feed the loose ends of the invisible thread through a needle and take the needle through each hole at the end of each petal. The needle must go from inside to outside, and you must travel in a circle.

Remove the protective covering from the double-sided tape pieces as you go in order to stick the circle together.

Once finished, add a little superglue to where the invisible thread emerges, and leave it to dry.

Step 9: Added Extras: Gold Circles

Every step from now on is optional, however I personally prefer the look of the lanterns with the gold embellishments.

So to make some gold circle embellishments, you will first need to cut a strip from some of your leftover red card. This strip should be approx. 1.5 cm wide.

Then work out how long a strip needs to be to make a ring that fits on the top of your lantern. Then add 0.5 cm.

Cut your strip of card into 2 pieces that are the length you've just calculated (you will need 2 short lengths per lantern).

In my case, I needed lengths of approx 5.5 cm.

Then carefully score a line lengthwise along the centre of each length of card.

Use scissors to then cut excess card from one side of this scored line to leave you with 3 small 'tabs', starting 0.5 cm from the end of each length.

I then used my gold paint pen on the front of each length to make it gold.

Step 10: Added Extras: Gold Circles

1 of the 2 gold rings you make is going to go on top of the lantern, and the other will have some fringing added to it before being attached to the base of the lantern.

Whatever cord or thread you used for the tassel, now add 1" fringing using that same thread/cord onto the back of 1 of the 2 card pieces. You can add many equal lengths of the cord/thread, or add a looped fringing - both options are shown in the photo.

Glue this fringing in place and leave to dry.

Add short pieces of double-sided tape on to the 0.5 cm section at the end of each card piece, and to each of the tabs. Make sure you add this tape to the front side, where you have added the gold colour.

Remove the protective covering from the tape at the end of one strip of card, roll the card around a pen to curve it into a ring, and use the tape to fix it in place.

Then uncover the tape on the card tabs, fold the tabs inwards, and attach this to the top of the lantern (after first feeding the invisible thread through the ring.)

I then added a little bit of superglue under the tabs as well to secure the ring in position permanently.

Step 11: Added Extras: Fringed Circles

Then it's time to do the same for the fringed circles, so first uncover the tape at the end of the card piece.

Then wrap this piece of card around the top of the tassel underneath the lantern, and fix the ring shape in place.

Then fold the tabs inwards, uncover the tape pieces, and stick the ring to the underside of the lantern.

Again, add glue if the tape isn't strong enough to hold the ring permanently.

And that's it, the lanterns are finished!

Step 12: Finished!

And now you can hang these lanterns up around your home :)

I hope you have enjoyed this project!

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