How to make silk hand fans at home

Written by karen frisch
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How to make silk hand fans at home
Two silk fans (Illustration by Karen Frisch)

The most popular fabric in China, silk is ideal for hand fans because it is lightweight yet creates a good breeze. Available in fabric stores, silk comes in assorted colours and patterns from flowers to watercolour designs. Consider the type of design you'd like on your fan. A gold tassel or ribbons at the bottom of the fan can provide a formal touch. The directions here are for two fans--one rectangular, the other a traditional folded fan. The rectangular fan is light and airy; the folded version gives a stiffer breeze.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Thin white poster board 8 by 22 inches long
  • Silk 8 by 26 inches long
  • Long, thin strip of silk
  • Thin ribbon or tassel
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Wire cutters

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    2 Silk Hand Fans

  1. 1

    Cut off the top part of the coat hanger with wire cutters. Discard the twisted part. Straighten the triangular-shaped piece. This will form the fan and handle.

  2. 2

    Shape the straight piece of wire into a rectangle that is wider and rounder at the top. Allow room for a handle with the wire doubled, as in the illustration. Join the wire by twisting it at the point where the handle meets the rectangle.

  3. 3

    Cut the silk to the size of the rectangle, adding an inch all around. Glue the silk to the wire backing. Turn under the extra inch and glue it to the back to keep it from fraying. Take the long thin strip of silk. Knot it where the fan meets the handle and wrap it around the exposed wire.

  4. 4

    Fold your 8-by-22 piece of poster board into a fan with 1-inch folds to make the second fan. After the first fold, turn over your fan and turn the paper in the opposite direction. For the third fold, turn over the paper again to make your fold. Continue this way until the entire length is folded.

  5. 5

    Lay the silk over the folded poster board to be sure it fits. Set the silk aside. Run a thin line of regular glue (without the glue gun) along the flat folds, not on the creases. A small amount will work. Lay the silk loosely over the folds and press gently. The extra inches allow room for folding. Once the silk is glued down, trim excess from the ends.

  6. 6

    Tape the bottom part of the fan that you hold between your fingers with a length of tape. Wrap it around securely. The fan should open into a semicircle, with a long, flat bottom and rounded top.

  7. 7

    Hot glue a tassel or ribbon to the bottom.

Tips and warnings

  • The fit of the silk on the folded fan doesn't have to be precise. Leave room to allow for folding and unfolding. Imperfections won't be seen once the bottom is taped. If you like, you can use the same silk on the back side of the fan.
  • As an alternative to the wire on the rectangular fan, use balsa wood. It's easy to cut with an X-Acto knife. If you like, you can also cover the back of the fan with silk. You can even use polyester in attractive patterns in place of silk.

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