DIY hot air balloons

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if you know me and DIY’s, you know you’re in for a long post!  i’m not just going to show you how to make one hot air balloon, i’m going to show you how to make 17 different balloons!


3 or 4 times a year, i create a new “installation” for our school‘s main office.  a couple years ago, my parents and i hung tension wires across the ceiling to be able to do these installations, so everything i do hangs from them.  when i’m ready to switch these out, they’ll move over to fred & betty’s, our school’s thrift store, where i do the window displays.  fun jobs, huh?

supplies:  paper lanterns (i used ones i had on hand, but the type with tighter, even boning worked much better than the wider criss-cross boning), scissors, hot glue, glue gun, mod podge, 1″ wide paint brush, tray for mod podge, fabric (i used almost all scraps), yarn, berry baskets, and styrofoam or plastic cups.


this is the key to the hot air balloon shape:  a cup.


i used both styrofoam cups and red plastic solo cups.  i cut each cup in half and also cut the bottom out as well.


then i lined the widest opening of the cup with hot glue, lots of it, and lined it up with the bottom opening of the paper lantern, making sure the entire cup top was adhered to the bottom of the lantern.  before i glued the cups to the lanterns, i made sure the widest opening of the cup fit over the bottom opening of the lantern because some lanterns had wider openings than others.


this is the start of the basic shape of the hot air balloon!



for the basic shape of the balloons, i used this technique.  i took a strip of fabric, between 1 to 2 1/2″ wide, and hot glued it to the inside of the cup opening on the bottom, then i painted lots of mod podge onto the lantern where the strip will lay. then i gently stretched the fabric strip to the top and hot glued to the inside of the  top opening as well.


 then i painted the top of the fabric with more layers of mod podge, almost in a paper-mache style.


and then do this over and over until the surface of the lantern is covered.  or, as you can see in the pic below, on some of the balloons i left some of the lantern showing through, but made sure i used enough strips to at least cover the cup base.

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for this balloon, i didn’t have enough green strips, but i had a lot of scraps.  i used strips at the base to make the basic shape, then covered it all with scraps of fabric.  and tons of mod podge.


after the balloons were made, i needed to figure out a way to hang the baskets.


i used yarn as the ties.  first i made a loop around the top of the balloon, not big enough to slide down.


then i tied the ends with a knot.


then made a second loop, just a little bigger than the first, but still not big enough to slide off the balloon.


then i took the smaller loop and placed it inside the larger loop.  where the arrows are, that is where i attached the loops to each other with the shorter pieces of yarn (see below).



then i snipped off the ends.


now does it make sense?


then i took long, even lengths of yarn and tied one end of each to a berry basket corner.


then i tied the other end of the yarn to the center of the bottom loop (see above – words can’t explain).



it was great like this, but i wanted to add one more thing…


i made a small loop to slide up the base of the balloon.


then took 4 small pieces of yarn and tied the long strings to the new small loop.



then i cut the ends of the knots.


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this balloon was made of several strips of the same fabric, covering the whole balloon.  then i took a strip of the persimmon fabric and wrapped the widest point of the balloon, and again at the base.  the basket was made by cutting apart a berry basket into 4 quarters, then glueing 2 of the quarters back together to make a smaller whole.  then i wove grosgrain ribbon through the openings and hot glued the ends together.

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this was one of my favorites!  instead of the strips going from the top to the bottom, the went from just above the middle to the bottom, then i painted the top of the balloon with acrylic paint.  i made i simple tiny bunting with scraps glued to yarn, and strung it around the balloon.  i lined the berry basket with red construction paper.

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i made 2 rainbow balloons, this one with the pattern repeating twice.  it took forever.  well, about an hour and a half.  rather than making an elaborate net to hang this basket from, i just did 4 long strings of yarn and glued little yarn bows at the top.  the basket was woven with yellow grosgrain ribbon and lined with a grocery bag.

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this was a funky shaped one.  i tried using a full cup rather than cutting it shorter in half, hence the longer, taller shape.  i did a patchwork on this one like the green one but then added 3 green strips for a bit of contrast.


this one is patchwork turquoise under the black and white strips.  i was just making do with what i had on hand, and i only had enough turquoise to do patchwork since i didn’t have long strips.  sometimes working with what you have forces the creativity!

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another balloon with the same strips covering it and contrasting bands.

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this balloon i did the yellow pieces first with 2 wide strips of fabric per section, then layered the pink fabric strips in between.  the basket is woven with 2 layers of ribbon for a more solid look.  i tied each corner of the basket with 2 strings of yarn.  i had an “x” of yarn at the top of the balloon that the ends of the basket strings tied to, 2 bottom strings tying to each top string.


after several elaborate balloons, i just wanted some more simple ones!  this one is just 3 colors of strips withe the lantern showing in between.  i wove the basket with thin strips of paper bag, and glued baker’s twine to the corners and to the base of the balloon.

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this one began with the floral fabric, then the yellow fabric on one side and the pink on the other, making a pattern.


this one i didn’t use any mod podge at all, just hot glue at the top and bottom of the strips and along the edges to seal it against the balloon.

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this is the other rainbow balloon, but with more colors.  can you see the irregular, spread out spines under the strips?  it was much more difficult to use than the closer spines.  more give in the paper of the lanterns.

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this pink lantern was so pretty i didn’t want to cover it completely.  the basket is woven with paper bag and striped ribbon.


another patchwork, but this time ombre.


the webbing was simple – just a single ring at the top with 2 strings coming from each basket corner.

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this one was made with mostly hot glue, too.  you can see the difference – its just not quite as tight as the mod podged balloons.


another simple one!

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these would look so cute in a kid’s room or nursery, or a playroom!  let me know if you have any questions!


  1. 1

    So adorable and clever, Lindsey! Such a whimsical and cheery welcome to a school’s entry. Will share your blog and this post with some schools in Australia.

  2. 2

    So beautiful and cheerful! Way to spark a joyful learning atmosphere! I could also see just using fabric decorated lanterns at home! Love that you are using your talents for the kids :-)

  3. 3

    These are incredibly creative and super cute!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. 4

    What a fun unique project! It would be an excellent way of using up scraps of fabric I have.


  5. 5

    Oh my goodness:) these are bright and cheerful:) Endless uses for parties/event’s. It looks like you used different techniques when hanging basket to lantern (balloon) with yarn. How did you attach the ones that have bows or no bows at mid height of balloon? Thanks for sharing lindsey:)

  6. 9

    these are INCREDIBLE!!!!! love them all!!!!

  7. 10

    I love this! I have already decided I want a hot air balloon nursery when that time comes and these would be perfect! Thanks for the tutorial!!!


  8. 11

    This just gave me a fabulous idea! Like your kids, our school has an annual auction to raise money, so I decided to contact local hot air balloon business owners to solicit a donation for our auction. I could TOTALLY make one of these to be part of their display for the night of the auction!!!

  9. 12

    These are just too cute! Such a great and detailed tutorial! I can’t wait to give these a try one day soon! Thanks for sharing!

  10. 13

    You are simply amazing. Those balloons are so fantastic. I love them all. My favorites are the rainbow ones. I love all of the bursts of colors. You are such a good mom.


  11. 14

    cutest. thing. ever! Thank you for putting together such a detailed post!
    Where did you find all the little berry baskets?

    • 15

      thanks! i had a few berry baskets on hand for who-knows-what, and then i bought a flat of strawberries at farmer’s market and there were a bunch in there holding all the berries!

  12. 16

    These are so cute! I just pinned it :)

  13. 17

    These are amazing. You are such a ball of creative talent. May have to pitch this idea to our boys school.

  14. 18

    These are awesome! Guess i’m off to the store to get some lanterns. The grand kids are going to love them!

  15. 19
    Arica Thomas says:

    Love the idea! I’m also going to use it for my nursery. Just one question – which size paper lanterns did you use? There are so many sizes available I don’t have the first clue. I just want it to look proportional with the cup that attaches.

  16. 21

    These are just AWESOME!! Can I pick your creative brain?! I papier-mâchéd hot air balloons for my daughter’s first birthday coming up. I want to make 36″ hot air balloon and am trying to figure out the best way to hang the balloon. Any thoughts?!

    • 22

      i have hung lots of different things from our ceilings, and i have always been happy with the teeny clear command hooks. they hold just enough weight and are fairly invisible!

  17. 23
    chrijuan Adams says:

    I love this idea soooooooooo much. Just trying to figure out how to hang this from my ceiling which is concrete
    Don’t want to damage anything but also don’t want it falling in my baby .. HELP!

    • 24

      when i hang lightweight things from my ceilings, i always use command hooks and i haven’t had any problems yet! i can usually use their smallest ones available, but considering you’re hanging this above your baby, you may want to do a slightly larger hook.

  18. 25

    I want to try this with my arts and crafts campers- do you think they can mod podge on tissue paper or will the lanterns tear from the wetness of multiple layers of podge applied with sponge brushes?

  19. 26

    Love this – thank you. I have a kids yoga summer camp next week and I was looking for an idea to go along with a guided visualisation I want to use. The visulaisation is about dropping your worries from a hot air balloon. I think I will attempt to get the children (tweens) to make these to take home and when a worry is hanging round in their heads – they can write it down and pop it in the balloon’s basket and out of their heads!! Hope we can do half as good a job as yours!!!

  20. 27

    These are so great! Best tutorial I have come across to make hot air balloons from paper lanterns!! I am looking to make a hot air balloon table centerpiece so because I’m not hanging it I need a way to keep the “balloon” up. Any ideas? I thought maybe wooden skewers? But where to place them and have them look good is the question. Thank you!

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