Introduction: Origami Fabric Panels

About: Architecture student at California College of the Arts

This Instructable covers the basics on how to create semi-rigid fabric panels which can be customized and folded like origami. This technique produces three dimensional tessellated patterns from woven materials quickly and efficiently.

The following work is part of the prototyping phase in a student led project at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. The project team consists of three students including two architecture majors: Evan Bowman and Ryan Montgomery, and well as Vanina Howan of Fashion Design.

Step 1: Step 1: Materials and Patterns

Materials Needed:

1. Fabric. Linen was used in this instructable, but any fabric without a whole lot of stretch should work.
2. Thin rigid material: 1-ply chipboard was used, however anything thin and easy to cut will be sufficient.
3. Scotch tape.
4. Spray Adhesive.

1. Cutting Mat
2. Metal Ruler
3. Exacto Knife.
4. Scissors
5. Iron and Ironing board.
6. A pattern for folding. We used the book: "Folding Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to Form" by Paul Jackson.

Step 2: Step 2. Process Your Materials and Layout.

We used a sheet of laser cut triangles left over from a previous prototype. Using a pair of scissors, the sheet was processed down into two different sized isosceles trains according to our pattern. This could easily be done with a solid sheet of material and a ruler.

Lay your triangles out according to your pattern and begin to tape them together along their flat edges (dont tape the triangle points!). The distance between triangles should be at least 1/8th of an inch. Any less and the final product may not flex much, and too far and it will lose any ability to hold its form. Some trial and error should be expected during this step.

Step 3: Step 3: Creating Your Panel

This step should be done outside or in a well ventilated area.

Using spray adhesive, give one side of the taped together pattern an even coat of glue. Now, working quickly, place the glue side down to one side of your fabric sheet. Press firmly and make sure everything is glued securely before moving on. Once the first side is in place, carefully spray the second side and fold the fabric back on top.

Step 4: Step 4: Finish the Panel

Either using a sewing machine or iron-on hemming tape seal the ends of your panel and cut off any extra with your knife or scissors.

Step 5: Final Images and Thoughts!

The end result is quite interesting as the panels are nearly impossible to see, and the fabric will easily fold or lay flat. Through our prototype we learned that the spacing between panels was crucial for an even fold, and the spray adhesive must be done carefully and evenly. If there is too much stress placed on the fabric it might start to separate from the panels. Experiment with triangle scale and pattern.

Good Luck!