Tea Bag Folding Patterns

Dana Hinders
tea bag folding butterfly

Tea bag folding is similar to the type of modular origami you would use to make items such as stars or wreaths, although tea bag folding always requires the use of glue as the individual units are not made to interlock. The finished designs often look very complex, but are merely a collection of identically folded papers arranged into a specific pattern. They are most often used to decorate handmade cards, but could be framed as wall art if desired.

Basic Tea Bag Folding Techniques

Tea bag folding uses tiles, which are small squares of paper with a kaleidoscopic pattern. Most tiles are between one inch and two inches square. Use plain colored paper or for a bit more pop, try printed tiles such as the ones used in these examples which were downloaded from Derek's Tea Bag Tiles.

tea bag tile

Start folding by placing your paper face down. Fold in half diagonally, then unfold.

tea bag tile

Fold the left and right sides into the center. This makes a kite shape that is one of the most basic tea bag folded forms.

tea bag tile

A variation of the kite fold is the pentagon fold. This is made by folding the small pointed tip of the kite fold tile up so it touches the wide end of the tile and forms a pentagon shape.

tea bag tile

Kite Fold Flower

tea bag folding flower

The easiest way to begin tea bag folding is the basic kite fold. This kite fold medallion looks like a flower when you are finished.

  1. Fold your tea bag tile in half diagonally.
  2. Unfold the tile, then fold each corner edge in to meet the middle crease. This gives you a shape that resembles a kite.
  3. Repeat the first two steps until you have eight tiles.
  4. Arrange the tiles in a circle on the front of your card or other sturdy paper. Position all of the tiles with the smallest point of the tile facing inward.
  5. Decorate the center of your design with a button, brad, or self-adhesive gem.

This pattern is perfect for handmade cards. If desired, you can give this card a different look by gluing the titles on the paper with the reverse side facing up, so you see both the printed and white portions of the tile. You could also try layering two medallions of different sizes on top of each other.

Kite Fold Butterfly

tea bag folding butterfly

The vast majority of tea bag folding designs are medallions in which the tiles are arranged in a circular pattern. This design is different because it uses a collection of kite folded tiles to make a butterfly.

  1. Fold your tea bag tile in half diagonally.
  2. Unfold the tile, then fold each corner edge in to meet the middle crease. This gives you a shape that resembles a kite.
  3. Repeat steps one and two until you have five tiles.
  4. Glue the first tile in the middle of your cardstock background with the wider point facing up.
  5. Arrange the remaining four tiles with the thin inner points touching the middle crease. These titles form the wings of your butterfly.
  6. Use a fine tip marker to draw antennae on your butterfly. You can also add a dotted trail indicating the butterfly's flight path.

Pentagon Fold Medallion

tea bag folding pentagon fold

The pentagon fold gives provides a different shaped edge for your shapes, such as this medallion.

  1. Fold your tile in half along one diagonal to make a triangle shape.
  2. Unfold, then fold each line into the center crease. You should now have a shape that looks like a kite, just as you did in the previous two card examples.
  3. Fold the small pointed end of the kite up so it touches the larger point of the kite. This creates a pentagon tile shape.
  4. Repeat this process until you have four identical titles.
  5. Glue the tiles on your cardstock or paper with the pointed ends facing inward.
  6. Add a decorative brad, sticker, or other embellishment to the center of the medallion if desired.

When using this medallion as part of a card or scrapbook page, you can make it stand out by placing it in the center of a strip of washi tape, as shown here. This card makes use of both the patterned and reverse side of the tiles, but you could glue them to your card with only the patterned side visible if you prefer.

Take Tea Bag Folding to the Next Level

Tea bag folding patterns feature vibrant colors and brilliant designs that are sure to add interest to your paper folding projects. Once you've mastered the basic tea bag folds, you can create an almost endless number of folded designs for your various paper crafting projects.

Tea Bag Folding Patterns