Left: bamboo fan minus its leaf (that semi-circular section of either fabric or paper on a fan)
Top right: carefully-removed paper fan leaf
Bottom right: paper pattern for fan leaves, generated from the above
I got a bunch of cheap bamboo fans to experiment with and gutted one, as you see above, to take a pattern for my fabric leaf. The fabric leaves will be made with two layers of fabric--either two layers of the chosen fabric if it is thin enough, or a layer of the fashion fabric and a layer of organza. Channels will be stitched in the organza for the fan's sticks (or staves) to slide down in, and the leaf will be adhered to the guards alone ("guards" are the two wider sticks at the front and back of the fan).
Embroidered silk taffeta flatlined to organza, with fan leaf traced out as desired.
Detail of stitching lines.
Sewing the channels for the fan.
Completed fan. Top and bottom edges are pinked to minimize bulk when folded.
(Check out my scalloped edge there where the leaf attaches to the guard!)
Next, i'm going to look around for a more ornamental, durable base fan (staves and guards); i don't know that this bamboo frame i've used for the prototype will be what we want for the "real deal"--we'll see!
Here are some other good links on the subject of folding fans:
Instructions for fan assembly using adhesive.
Powerhouse Museum of Sydney, Australia, maintains an online archive of fans in their collection.
An article on the Fan Museum in Britain.
Another discussion of folding-fan making.
A short history of fans.
Instructions on how to make 3 types of 16th-century fans.
Making a folding fan from scratch
Tatting pattern for a lacy fan leaf
Kits for making large feather fans (of the showgirl/burlesque performer variety).