Herringbone Paper Technique - the Vibrant Power of Repeating Pattern

by SheaMc62
6 Materials
30 Minutes

Don't let the complicated look fool you - herringbone paper is a cinch to create. And it's a great way to use up leftover bits of pretty printed cardstock. You know, the kind that’s too pretty to throw away but too small to use any other way. It’s fun to mix and match to make this unique, snazzy background.

Let me show you how!

It all starts with the paper. This is an excellent way to use up those bits of patterned papers that are too pretty to throw away but too small to use (or so you thought). This goes for holiday patterned papers, too, as shown in my Halloween herringbone card. Soon I'll be making some Christmas cards using this technique.

You only need a few additional supplies (listed below), the most important being the sticky paper. You'll also need some small scissors, a paper trimmer and a bone folder. And a card base from solid cardstock.

Steps to make herringbone paper

Step 1

Trim the adhesive paper to the desired size of your background.

Step 2

Trim 3 or 4 patterned papers into strips between 1/8″ and 3/8″ width. Trim a dark color into one of those sizes. I trimmed my dark brown into 2/8″ (1/4") width.

Step 3

Take one of the dark strips of paper and adhere it diagonally across the adhesive paper. Do the same with two more strips of dark paper. You have now divided the base (adhesive) layer into four rough triangles.

Step 4

Roughly trim the paper strips. This will make the next steps a bit easier. Do NOT trim up to the base layer just yet. (You can see two of the dark strips trimmed shorter.)

Note: Don’t worry about being precise when laying out the dark strips. There is no certain way or pattern for doing this. The right way is YOUR way.

Step 5

Pick one of the four triangles and start filling it in. Choose one of the patterned paper strips and adhere it next to a dark strip. Choose another of the same pattern and adhere it next to the dark strip on the opposite side of the section.

Step 6

Repeat Step 5 until the entire section is filled in.

Step 7

Flip layer over and trim paper strips close, but NOT all the way to edge yet. I'll explain why in a moment.

Step 8

  • Fill in the second section with paper strips.
  • Fill in the third section. Use longer leftover strips for this section.
  • Fill in the fourth section.

Step 9

Trim the strips close to the base layer after each section, but not all the way to the base. Not yet. (See the edges peeking out?)

Step 11

Turn the finished layer over. Using the bone folder, burnish strips firmly to adhere all strips to the adhesive layer. This ensures smaller strips will stay adhered. Trim again, this time right up to the edge of the base layer. Sometimes "stretching" occurs, and waiting to trim ensures you get a nice, crisp edge.

Step 12

Turn right side up and burnish again. Use a speck of white glue to adhere any tiny bits that try to fall off (those pieces at the very bottom of each side).

Use your newly created herringbone pattern on a project!

I used soft colors of patterned paper for this baby card, but bright patterns work just as well. Check out my blog post (linked below) for details on how I finished this card.

NOTE: If you don't have sticky paper, fear not. You have options!

  1. Run a very thin bead of white glue down the backs of the paper strips to adhere them to the base layer. You'll need to "guestimate" how long of a line of glue to draw so that there's not a lot left on the ends of the strips that hang over the base layer. But you could also wipe off the excess, too. Just be sure to let the glue dry before cutting the strips off so that you don't get glue on your scissors.
  2. Glue stick will work in the same fashion.

This herringbone paper technique doesn’t need much flash or sparkle – it stands on its own quite nicely.

Another use for sticky paper...

How to Stencil with Glitter and Turn Dull into Dazzling

Suggested materials:
  • Sticky Paper   (Art Glitter website)
  • Patterned paper scraps   (Had on hand)
  • Solid cardstock   (Had on hand)
See all materials
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Karen Edwards Karen Edwards on Nov 14, 2021

    Can anything else be used besides sticky paper. I cant find any here, also it has a place in your directions what can be used but it doesnt tell you.

    Please help, love this idea for chrismas cards.

Join the conversation
  • GeorgiaBulldogsFan GeorgiaBulldogsFan on Nov 09, 2021

    Hi Shea. Just want to say that I really love this post! And yes, I definitely have plenty of scrap gift wrap that I can use! Thanks for breaking down the process and giving clear instructions. Will definitely be trying this project very soon! Great job!

    • SheaMc62 SheaMc62 on Nov 09, 2021

      I'm so glad you like the post! This is such a fun technique, so perfect for those scraps you just can't bear to part with. (It's great for "ugly" paper too that you can't seem to find a use for.) Enjoy! 🙂

  • Veronica Jones Veronica Jones on Nov 15, 2022

    Thanks for the idea, it looks really good.