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How to Make Decorative Tape

Updated on April 5, 2013

Home Made Washi Tape

Scrapbooks, altered books and art journals have been all the rage in recent years, but the latest method of keeping a record of one's life is 'smash journaling'. What is a smash journal? It's been described as an 'unscrapbook', a blank book where all the bits and pieces you collect, such as tickets, photos, postcards, receipts, messages, etcetera are stored. They are glued in, or more often, taped in with decorative tape. One of the most popular kinds is washi tape, a delicate Japanese paper tape.

There are lots of varieties of washi tape available but wouldn't it be more fun and satisfying to make your own?

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Supplies for Making Tape
Supplies for Making Tape | Source

Supplies for Making Tape

Your basic tape-making supplies are very few, you can start with just three...

  • Double-sided craft tape
  • Scissors
  • A selection of lightweight papers

The papers I often use are rather unusual but not difficult to find. As I am working on various art projects, I have a roll of paper towel near by to clean my brushes and to dab off excess paint. They get all squished and scrunched up but I don't throw them in the trash. When I have finished each project, I gather up the used, dried-out paper towels and carefully unscrunch them. Then, when I think they would be perfect in another project (such as making tape), I iron them.

I also use lightweight mulberry paper and crafter's tissue paper.

Other supplies that would be helpful:

  • Rubber stamp and ink pad
  • A cardboard tube or empty ribbon spools
  • Masking tape
  • Freezer/waxed paper
  • Paint, markers, watersoluble crayons.

Lay papers out, pretty side down.
Lay papers out, pretty side down. | Source

Making Washi Tape - Step One

Lay down three, or more, papers side by side. Make sure the attractive side is face-down. Here you can see I have selected three pieces of paper towel - they are a bit ragged but that's okay. If you can, try to separate the plies (the layers); sometimes you can, but sometimes they are too stuck together, especially if they are covered in acrylic paint like mine are.

Rows of double-sided tape.
Rows of double-sided tape. | Source

Home Made Tape - Step Two

Lay down several rows of double-sided tape on the back of the papers. Go right across all three papers, making sure that they are close together.

How many rows you lay down depends on how much tape you want to make. I decided to stick ('scuse pun) with just the three rows on this batch

Trim off the excess paper towel - you can save it to use again - but don't cut the individual rows just yet. Turn the taped paper over and decide whether it requires further decoration. I thought mine would be improved with a little rubber stamping. It already had little bits of gold paint stuck to it, which looked really nice. I grabbed my favorite stamp and randomly stamped the paper with black ink (see photo below). Then I carefully cut between the three rows of double-sided tape.

At this point you can use the tape as is by peeling off the backing, or you can store it on a cardboard tube, an empty ribbon spool or even in a book as Jennibellie shows you in her Washi Tape/Ribbon Storage Book Tutorial. If using a cardboard tube, simply use a little masking tape to hold the ends in place.


Home made washi tape
Home made washi tape | Source

Jennibellie's Washi Tape Tutorial

Using vintage papers.
Using vintage papers. | Source

Making Tape With Vintage Papers

You can try making some tape with other kinds of papers. I laid down three vintage papers - some sheet music and two pages from an old atlas (don't worry it's falling apart and would have ended up in the trash). I then proceeded as above but omitted adding any further decoration - though, of course, you could if you wanted to. The papers, being thick weren't as flexible as the paper towel tape, and, I wouldn't bother using them in this way again - if I wanted a strip of vintage paper, I'd simply cut or tear it and glue it down.

Masking tape on waxed/freezer paper.
Masking tape on waxed/freezer paper. | Source
Decorate rows of masking tape.
Decorate rows of masking tape. | Source

Decorating Masking Tape

It is possible to make perfectly good decorative tape with just masking tape and a few art supplies.

Lay out some waxed/freezer paper - I used three A4 sheets - and cut masking tape to the required length. Stick down as many strips as you wish - cover the whole waxed paper, if you like. Then just start decorating it. Use paint, markers or crayons - anything you have. I used Letraset Aquamarkers (water-based) and permanent marker, only because the Aquamarkers are new and I wanted to try them out. I then sprayed with water to activate the markers. Once dry, I rubber-stamped the tape like a crazy rubber-stamping thing. The final result is shown in the photo below.

You could make sheets and sheets of this kind of tape. Store flat and peel off when needed. I cut mine into strips just so I could roll it onto my snazzy cardboard tube - see photograph at the top of the page.

Rubber stamping masking tape.
Rubber stamping masking tape. | Source
Using tape to 'smash' journal.
Using tape to 'smash' journal. | Source
DŽcor Washi Tape 3 Piece Set: Black Stripe, Black Plain, Black Check
DŽcor Washi Tape 3 Piece Set: Black Stripe, Black Plain, Black Check
Haven't got the time or inclination to make your own tape? This black and white set of three rolls are perfect for a sophisticated, modern look.

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    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      15 months ago from Wales, UK

      It's fun to make... and I still have some left years later. However, it loses its sticking power after a while :)

    • profile image


      15 months ago

      What a great idea. Am liking the idea of using my own designs to make greeting cards.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      15 months ago from United States

      This article opens up a lot of ideas! Thanks for the idea about the paper towels especially!

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      6 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thanks, aintnoninny. It's fun - it won't be perfect (well mine isn't), but it gives pages a nice handmade look. I used some yesterday.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just found this as I was about to order some Washi tape for the first time. Think I'll try this first. Awesome tutorial!

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      Oh, yes, I'd like another hour or two, Judi Bee. Let me know if you find any! Thanks for popping in!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      8 years ago from UK

      Like Natasha, not sure how I missed this one. Plus I've just noticed Creative Lettering for Art Journals, so I'm off to read that one. Need someone to write a hub about how to make more hours in the day so that you can follow up on great ideas you find!

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      That's a great idea, mollymeadows! Would work on Christmas and other greetings cards too!

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 

      8 years ago from The Shire

      This is so clever! I love the idea of decorative tape! I remember when people used to communicate with letters and cards ;-) and a dab of this beautiful tape would make a beautiful seal on the back of an envelope. Great idea!

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      @phdast7 - I feel the same - I feel quite cheated that I didn't know that you could 'play' at art. Always thought I wasn't good enough at drawing or painting. Or writing, for that matter!

      @Natashalh - :-) There's not enough time in the day to visit all the hubs we'd like to! Thank you xxx

    • Natashalh profile image


      8 years ago from Hawaii

      How did I miss this when you wrote it? I love these instructions! Voted up and awesome.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Absolutely marvelous! You explain everything so clearly and the photographs are terrific. Why didn't I know about this when I was in my twenties and thirties as a stay at home mom? I had time for crafts then (sewing, quilting, decoupage, homemade Christmas ornaments - that was about it) and worked on all kinds of things once the children were in bed. I would have loved to have done this and made and used "decorative tape."

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thanks Susan and Artsfuse :-) I made some more the other day - so easy to do and you can use almost any kind of paper.

    • Artsfuse profile image


      8 years ago from NZ

      great idea..will have to give it a go...

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This looks like it would be a lot fun to do. Very creative!

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, randomcreative. I hope you do - it's fun!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      8 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great job with this tutorial! I would love to try this sometime.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thanks, Brainy Bunny and coolenconnections. It really is very simple to do.

    • coolenconnections profile image

      Suzanne Sankey 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      Awesome tutorial! I recently discovered smashbooking and love the concept behind it. I love the idea for making the tape with 2 sided tape. I have used ds tape mostly in sewing.. I can't wait to try this!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 

      8 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      I love washi tape, but it never occurred to me that you could make your own! Thanks for the great ideas and instructions.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      Yes, but I can't cook! Thank you, GoodLady. x

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      8 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Liked this a lot. I'm hopeless at arts and crafts I think, though my sister is wonderful at them, so I'll send her this Hub. She makes everything into everything and her home looks wonderful. Thanks.


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