Sonobe Origami Ornament

by Emily Weems

Create a beautiful ornament out of paper squares.


  • 30 3" x 3" squares of lightweight paper (Wrapping paper is ideal)

  • 12" Ribbon


  1. Step 1

    Start by folding a sheet of paper in half.

  2. Step 2

    Unfold, and then fold the left and right side in to meet the crease.

  3. Step 3

    Fold the top right corner down so that the top edge meets the left edge.

  4. Step 4

    Rotate and do the same thing with the other side.

  5. Step 5

    Unfold both of those corners. You should have one small triangle sticking up on each side.

  6. Step 6

    Fold those under.

  7. Step 7

    Now take the corners you folded down in step 3 and 4 and tuck those under the flap.

  8. Step 8

    It should look like this.

  9. Step 9

    Flip the whole thing over and fold the points in to make a square, giving you a diagonal line down the center.

  10. Step 10

    Fold in half on that line.

  11. Step 11

    It should look like this. This is called a Sonobe.

  12. Step 12

    Continue to fold the remaining 29 pieces.

  13. Step 13

    Now we will begin putting the pieces together.
    This does not require adhesive. Everything is done by tucking the flaps in the pockets of the folds.
    Start by putting the flap of one piece into the pocket on another.

  14. Step 14

    Take a third piece and insert the flap into the pocket of the second.
    Put in the fourth flap the same way.

  15. Step 15

    Insert the fifth flap.
    Notice when you put this one in, it meets with the other side of the first flap. Insert the flap from the first piece into the fifth's pocket.

  16. Step 16

    You have made the top of your ornament.
    Take your ribbon and tie a big knot on the end. I recommend using several knots to make it less likely to come out.
    Put your ribbon into the hole in the center. If the hole isn't large enough, just gently pull on the pieces to make a big enough hole. You can easily push the pieces back together.

  17. Step 17

    The next two steps will show you how to put three sonobe pieces together.
    I find that it goes together a lot easier in groups of three, but you can also put them in one at a time if you find that way easier.

  18. Step 18

    Start by inserting the flap of one sonobe into the pocket of another like we did in step 13.
    Insert a third sonobe into the first.
    Tuck the flap from the second sonobe into the pocket of the third. You should have a point. Make 7 of these.

  19. Step 19

    Working with 5 of these sonobe clusters, you will go around working them in like shown making your first row.

  20. Step 20

    As you continue to go around, you will see when a flap needs to be tucked in.

  21. Step 21

    After working in the first 5 sonobes, your ornament should look like this.

  22. Step 22

    Take the remaining 2 of the 3 piece sonobes and work in one on each side.

  23. Step 23

    Work in the remaining 4 pieces by tucking the flaps into the pockets.

  24. Step 24

    Finish your ornament.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Sonobe Origami Ornament. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

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Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

WOW this looks like a lot of work...but the end result is just gorgeous! I might have to try this out! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!
Silvia Mabie  |  Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 7:18 AM
What a great idea and such a pretty ornament! I'll for sure give this a try - thanks for a great tutorial!
Carolina  |  Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 10:03 AM
WOW! That's a stunning looking ornament. I'll look into when I can give this one a shot! Too cool Emily! Thanks for the tute!
BevMom  |  Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 11:00 AM
Wow! That is really beautiful! Maybe I'll give it a try at my stamp club so the other girls can help me (I'm not a very good folder) Thanks for this great tutorial!!!
Diana B.  |  Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 1:57 PM
Awesome ornament Emily. Great paper too!
Carolyn King  |  Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 5:00 PM
Your ornament is gorgeous! Thanks for the awesome tutorial!!
Rose Ann  |  Fri Nov 7, 2008 at 7:06 AM
astonishing and so wonderfully done, emily!!!thanks for a great tutorial. I have to try it myself.
Chat  |  Fri Nov 7, 2008 at 7:22 AM
I love origami! What a beautiful ornament. Thanks for the tutorial!
Karen  |  Fri Nov 7, 2008 at 12:19 PM
My fingers got all tangled about the 6th fold...oh well. It's still beautiful!!
Kate  |  Fri Nov 7, 2008 at 1:00 PM
Emily, this is one FANTASTIC holiday project ! GREAT job writing the tutorial! Very well done, my friend!
Nancy Riley  |  Fri Nov 7, 2008 at 3:11 PM
This SUCKS! The instructions are too vague... way too hard to complete without better instruction. My eyes hurt raspberry
Hating Origami  |  Fri Nov 7, 2008 at 9:15 PM
After 5 hours of pulling my hair out trying to figure this out I give up.This is a beautiful ornament but the directions for constructing the actual ornament is extremely vague. It says to attach flaps into pockets in fold. Where are those pockets? Do the flaps go up or down, are the folds of the gatefold supposed to be facing up or down? It says no adhesive needed yet I could not seem to keep anything together even if I did have it right
Cheryl Randall  |  Fri Nov 7, 2008 at 10:36 PM
I have a very stupid it possible to fold some of these backwards? It seemed like when I went to put some of the sets together there wasn't a pocket to tuck it into. Could I have done some of the little triangles backwards?
Deidre  |  Sun Nov 9, 2008 at 9:53 AM
What a great tutorial! Instructions and pictures were perfect! I have already made to make more! This is a great folding project to do while watching TV.
Jael  |  Sun Nov 9, 2008 at 10:41 AM
Guess I must be stupid
Cheryl Randall  |  Sun Nov 9, 2008 at 11:01 AM
I'm with you Cheryl - I can't get it to work either! Given up and gone back to making Christmas cards - I don't feel so stupid then. Maybe it would have been better if it had be done in two different color plain papers instead of patterned?
CazJN  |  Sun Nov 9, 2008 at 12:26 PM
Hey everyone! Sorry some of you are having a hard time with the tutorial. I would have gotten back to you sooner, but I've been gone most of the weekend. Hopefully I can answer your questions.

The pockets I am referring to, you can kind of see in step 8. See how it looks like there is an x in the center? That is where the pockets are located. If you look in step 13 the flap of the blue piece is going into the pocket of the brown piece.

As for which way the pieces are supposed to be folded, well they aren't really. What I mean by that, is that when you folded them in steps 1-10, the creases that come from that are the only folding done. They will pretty much keep that shape.

Yes, it is possible to fold them backwards. In step 3, where it says to fold the top right corner down, if you do the left corner instead it will be different. You can do it either way, if one is easier for you, but they all have to be folded the same way to fit together.

I hope this explains things better. Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any more questions =).
Emily Weems  |  Sun Nov 9, 2008 at 3:54 PM
very cool! Pattern Paper seems to be a very beautiful paper for this ornament!
Franziska  |  Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 12:18 AM
Greta tutorial..Great ornament..TFS
TanyaBuffington  |  Mon Nov 2, 2009 at 10:08 AM
Finally had a go after looking at the instructions for months. Got a bit lost trying to put the bottom together, but after pulling it apart a few times, I worked out the sequence.
Next time, I will use a lighter weight paper.
Thanks for the inspiration
Annette  |  Wed Nov 11, 2009 at 8:39 PM

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