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braided paper bracelets and bookmarks

Braiding, according to some random and unverifiable website I saw once, is a task with “Ancient World Origins,” practiced around the world and probably dating back ages and ages and signifying different things in different cultures and maybe even linked to way old-school deities. I’d look this stuff up properly, but I had a super busy week at work and I’m already two glasses of wine into my weekend, and if I went anywhere near Wikipedia right now I’d no doubt vanish into a black hole of links to everything, only to emerge again on Monday morning knowing all there is to know about Prigogine’s Double-collared Sunbird and how you get from its Wikipedia page to the one on seaslugs.

So. Here’s what I do know about braiding.

It’s pretty.

It’s relaxing, unless you’re on the 5th attempt at french braiding your own hair at 7:30 am and it’s coming out all bumpy again.

There was a guy in my junior high youth group who got some girls to teach him how to braid so that he could help his mom out by braiding his little sister’s hair for her in the mornings before school. Every girl who ever met that boy had plans to marry him.

So, it’s also sexy.

But you may have noticed from past photos that I don’t have that much hair. See the line about getting it to cooperate at 7:30am; I decided I’d be better off with as little of the stuff as possible. What I do have in abundance is crafting supplies, such as paper. And that’s why today’s project is braiding (though it’s really just folding in this case) paper.

Which, like hair, looks very pretty braided, and unlike hair does not need to look perfect at 7:30am. My two thoughts so far have been to make bookmarks with braided paper, and to make bracelets. I imagine it could also lend itself to some lovely ornament-making, and to some nice scrapbooking borders. Or the world’s most time-consuming paper chain.



What you’ll need: 

  • pretty paper – at least 11″ long for bracelets
  • paper cutter OR a ruler, a pencil, and scissors
  • white glue
  • tape
  • [optional] 
  • other paper (to make a bookmark backing)
  • velcro (to make a bracelet)



1) Start by cutting several strips of paper, all the same length and width. Though of course,you could play with making them different widths to get different looks.

For bookmarks you’ll of course want thin paper. But for bracelets, thicker is better. In the picture below, I’m using wallpaper samples, which is a heavier paper (and also very pretty). To make the paper even thicker, and to have the image on both sides, since one side of the paper is patterned and one is plain, I folded part of the paper over and glued down (very very thoroughly), so that on both sides the pattern is visible. Once dry, I cut the paper into strips, so I had thin pieces of paper with the pattern showing on both sides, and the edges perfectly matched.



2) Place one paper strip down vertically in front of you, and the other two strips exactly perpendicular to that first strip. Apply glue just below the top of the vertical strip.


3) Glue the ends of the two horizontal strips to it.


4) Apply glue to the very top of the vertical strip, and fold it down over the other strips.


5) Tape the top edge of the paper, where all the strips are now glued together, to your work surface. If you have a bulletin board available, you can also set the paper on the bulletin board and pin it in place. It’s mainly important to have a flat, hard surface to work on.


6) Fold the  upper horizontal strip (in this case, the green one) down, so it sits parallel to the first vertical strip (the blue one), their sides touching. Press the fold down with a finger.


7) Now fold the left-hand vertical strip (the blue one) over the strip beside it (the green one) so it is parallel to the horizontal (yellow) strip, with their sides touching. Press the fold flat.


8) Fold the yellow strip down over the blue strip so it sits beside the green strip.


9) Lather, rinse, repeat.


10) When you get to the end of the paper (or when the braid is as long as you want it), dab some glue on the the last folds as you make them, to secure the end of the braid. Then trim any excess ends of paper.


11) To finish, you can glue your braided paper to another piece of paper as a backing, and use the whole thing as a rather elegant bookmark.


Varnish the braid (this is an optional step, but it will give it some shine and make it more durable), then glue a small piece of velcro to one side of one end, and the opposite side of the other end.

Wrap the braid around your wrist, match up the velcro pieces, and you have a bracelet. This works best with thicker paper, or paper you’ve multi-layered by gluing two or three or four pieces together, as I mentioned in step 1.



Featured on:
Fun Family Crafts

Leave a comment


  1. I love both ideas! I am definetely going to try this out! :)
    Thank you

  2. Just stopping by to let you know that I have featured your project on Fun Family Crafts today! You can see it here

    If you have other kid friendly crafts, I’d love it if you would submit them :) If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above.

  3. N.E

     /  September 26, 2011

    Wow .. I love the ideas !! I’ll try them.
    Thank you so much :)

  4. wanping

     /  November 12, 2011

    lovely!! now i know what to get my friends for christmas!!!

  5. So silly me, thinking about how much I love 5 and 7 strand braids of bread, saw this and thought that if this looked cool with 3 strands, it would look awesome with 5.

    After a lot of fiddling and weaving ends, I think it’s safe to say that in this case simplicity is best – I like the 3 strand MUCH better. Thanks for posting!

    • admin

       /  January 7, 2012

      :D Yay for experimenting a bit, though – always worth trying. Glad something worked out for you in the end.

  6. Rarely hear guys who know how to braiding, i want to try such a boy to see what he can do :)). I broke something material, i messed up the steps, but eventually I made a very beautiful paper wristband that will surely attract attention b-).

  7. Vimala

     /  August 5, 2012

    thanks so much for this tute! Love this idea and will making these in the near future:)

  8. Amelia

     /  February 9, 2014

    DEFINITELY double side!

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  32. Here’s a simple and fun project you can do with your grandkids – braiding paper. The basics we’ll walk you through today are great for making simple bookmarks, or fun bracelets, but you and the grandkids can use your braided paper to do whatever you like. Show them how to do it once and they’ll spend hours coming up with new creations.

  33. bracletttttttttt

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  34. I loved reading this article – it gave me great ideas on how to create beautiful braided paper bracelets and bookmarks that my friends and I can enjoy, and the instructions were so easy to follow!

  1. Bookmark bracelet | Bewaretheclett

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