How to Make Paper Garland from Junk Mail

Simple Garland with Junk Mail Envelopes and Recycled Papers
This is one of my favorite projects. It's a great way to use all sorts of paper scraps ranging from the inside of junk mail envelopes to old book pages, cards, wrapping paper, letters, or any other used paper that is just too pretty to discard. I've boiled the process down to six easy steps and the materials list is short. I hang these garlands all around my apartment and studio. They adorn the edges of photo frames, hang like swags in doorways, and decorate my studio walls.

Skill Level
Easy. You can do it!

Materials List
  • pretty paper scraps
  • paper punch (Papersource has great options)
  • thread
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
Step 1: Unfold your junk mail. Remove sticky edges and cellophane windows. Find clean flat areas that will work well with your paper punch. Same rule applies to book pages, note cards, wrapping paper, or any paper scraps you are using--be sure both sides appeal to your aesthetic, avoid wrinkles, and remove windows or glue.

 Step 2: Once you've prepared the papers, begin to punch away. Just slip the paper under the punch and press. Voila! You could also cut pretty shapes if you wanted an alternative to the paper punch.

Step 3: Organize your paper into piles. I usually organize by color but you might choose texture, pattern, or themes such as nursery colors, holiday patterns, or pages with text.

Step 4: Loosely create your pattern. I say "loosely" because half the fun is watching the garland take shape as you sew, but you do want to have some sense of the pattern you'll create. Make a few piles and be ready to pull from the piles as you go.

Step 5: Thread your machine, take a deep breath, and start sewing. Don't leave too much room between paper pieces or your thread will tangle and break. (Some machines have special settings for this type of sewing so be sure to consult your manual.) If your thread continues to break, go ahead and place the paper pieces adjacent to one another and try again. You could even hand-stitch with a basic running stitch. 

Step 6: Hang with happy abandon. Adorn your walls and windows or tape several to your ceiling for a makeshift mobile. They could also be used as ribbon on packaging, Christmas tree garland, or anything that needs a strand of happy.

(Please note: All of my tutorials and projects are intended for readers' personal use only. Not intended for resale, retail, wholesale, or any other form of reproduction. All images and text copyright Katrina Rodabaugh. Thank you.)