Geisha bookmark

The idea of these bookmarks in a Japanese theme, came to me following the terrible Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011. The world was rallying around in an effort to assist in whatever way possible to help Japan. My own very humble and limited contribution came through the sale of these bookmarks which I created by the dozen.

I would like to think that this little project will be useful in classrooms or in local youth groups or women’s institutes — in other words — to continue to do good in some way. So download and enjoy!


  1. A selection of printed paper – origami is best (for doll’s clothing). Don’t use paper that is too thick as you will be building up several layers for the doll…after all, this is a bookmark
  2. White/off white card stock (for neck and face)
  3. Black tissue or crepe paper (for hair)
  4. Kraft card stock – I used upcycled file dividers (for bookmark base)
  5. Narrow satin ribbon (bookmark tie)
  6. Tiny artificial flowers or stamens (hair decoration)


  1. Glue gun or glue stick
  2. Scissors and cutting knife. Guillotine also useful if available
  3. Pencil
  4. Hole punch
  5. Cutting board
  6. Ruler
  7. Rubber stamps and inks OR watercolours & brushes or kitchen sponge OR coloured felt tips (to decorate bookmark base)
  8. Red & black felt tips or similar (facial features)

Doll pattern pieces:

  1. Neck in white card approx.5 cm x 0,50 cm
  2. Collar/neckband in pattern/colour approx.2 cm x 4 cm
  3. Kimono in pattern/colour 9 cm x 6 cm
  4. Belt (aka obi) in pattern/colour 6 cm x 3 cm
  5. Coat in pattern/colour 8 cm x 4 cm
  6. Hair in black approx. 5 cm x 5 cm
  7. Face oval in white card approx.1,50 cm x 2 cm

You will notice that I suggest pattern or colour for some parts. This is all a question of taste according to the paper you have. It is quite nice to contrast the neckband with the kimono – the kimono with the belt – the kimono with the coat etc. After you have done the first one you will see what I mean.

Don’t be a slave to the measurements. Cut out the first one correctly…and maybe do a template with some stiffer card — but you will see how things fit together and can snip away if there is any overlapping that you don’t like. My only suggestion would be not to alter the long side of the kimono to make it shorter. If anything, you might find it looks nicer a little longer. The same goes for the white neck…just make it shorter if you need to.

Pattern pieces

  • Coat (red)
  • Stamens
  • Hair
  • Face
  • Neck
  • Neckband/collar
  • Belt
  • Kimono

If your scissors aren’t too large, you can use the thumb hole as a cutting size guide for the face.

Let’s start with the neck and body – use images above as a guide. Don’t forget to use a dab of glue at each stage to fix the parts firmly.

  1. Fold neckband in half and stick at about 1cm down the neck piece, folded side towards top
  2. Fold inwards the 2 extremes of the neckband to cross over one another
  3. On the non-patterned side of the kimono, fold about 1 cm down across the short edge
  4. Turn kimono over and with the patterned side facing you, fold down about half a centimetre along the short edge
  5. Stick the neck with neckband at the centre top of the inside of the kimono piece
  6. Fold inwards down the length of the kimono. Glue only the lower half
  7. Fold back slightly the collar area of the kimono to partially reveal the neckband underneath
  8. Repeat on the other side of the kimono
  9. Fold inwards on the non-patterned side the 2 long edges of the belt so that they just meet in the centre
  10. Stick the belt (folded edges inwards) on the front of the kimono so that the top part just holds down the kimono collar
  11. Glue the 2 ends of the belt to the back of the figure
  12. Fold about 1 cm on the long edge of the non-patterned side of the coat
  13. Take the coat and fold in about half a centimetre along the long edge of the patterned (right) side
  14. Glue the coat, centre back to the wrong side of the doll figure
  15. Here you can see more or less how your figure should be (as seen from the front) at this stage

Now for the head – use images above as a guide. Don’t forget to use a dab of glue at each stage to fix the parts firmly.

  1. Fold both sides of hair inwards at a slight angle so that you form a squared off triangle, narrower at the top and wider at the bottom
  2. Fold inwards about 1 cm on the narrower part of the triangle. Check to see that the head fits and the folded over section of hair covers approximately half of the face to act as a fringe. Use just a small spot of glue in the crease between the fringe and the back of the hair to fix the top of the head
  3. Check to see that the neck is not too long to fit snugly under the face with just the clothing neckband on view. If it is too long, snip off a little and then glue the neck to the back of the face making sure that the hair does not get caught up with the glue
  4. Your figure should now look similar to this image
  5. Twist the stamen ends together leaving a flat open area at the bottom. If you are using a glue gun, you can add a blob of glue. If you are using a glue stick, it might be an idea to put a little piece of sellotape around the end to create a larger surface for the glue
  6. Glue the stamens to the back of the hair checking that they are positiioned nicely. If you are using small flowers or beads, stick them to the front of the hair as a decoration
  7. Please note that you have still NOT added facial features. We will do this at the very end

Last but not least, the background card – use images above as a guide

  1. Cut card to size, each approximately 20 cm x 5,50 cm
  2. Mottle background using either rubber stamps or a kitchen sponge with almost dry paint cover in a colour similar to the background. You can of course use felt tips as a substitute. Just remember that you only want a very delicate, almost invisible effect.
  3. Check the position of the figure and how much space remains above
  4. Add a floral image with a rubber stamp (or hand painted/drawn) in a stronger colour in the space which remains above the figure
  5. “Distress” the edges of the card, either by rubbing lightly with a stamp pad or by flicking an almost dry sponge or my drawing the edge of a felt tip pen as described in point 2
  6. Punch a hole for the ribbon in the top of the card. I find it useful to remove the bottom cover of my double punch and use it the wrong way up which makes it easier to position the single hole centrally on the card
  7. Glue the figure securely to the card base
  8. Now you can add the ribbon and facial features to complete the bookmark

So there you go…hope you have fun making these and that you manage to donate them to worthwhile causes!

Pick up download below…

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