Instructions for Paper Quilling

Updated July 19, 2017

Paper quilling is the art of curling tiny strips of paper into coils, shaping them and then gluing them together to form designs. Paper quilling can be used to embellish greeting cards or scrapbook pages, create holiday ornaments and home decorations, or make three-dimensional pictures, dioramas or models.

Gather Supplies

To do paper quilling, you need a few basic supplies. Some are mandatory, but others are extras that either save you time or make the task easier. Most important is the paper. Commercial quilling paper comes in colourful, 12- to 24-inch long strips. The strips range in size from 2mm to 10mm wide, but the 3mm size (1/8 inch) is the most common. Make your own quilling paper if you have a precision paper cutter or shredder, but the strips must be exactly the same width for your coils to be the same height.

You need a ruler, for measuring out the length of paper strips, and clear, fast-drying glue to help the coils keep their shapes. A pin or toothpick to apply the glue in the tiny amounts needed is also handy. A slotted quilling tool is not essential to the craft but is highly recommended. The tool is specially designed to hold the tiny strips of quilling paper secure so you can curl them around the tool's centre pin for a tight centre and perfect coil every time.

Other supplies you should have on hand are a plastic craft mat or sheet of waxed paper to help keep your quilled creations from sticking to your table, a pair of tweezers for pinching the glued edges of paper together while they set, and a template board or quilling circle sizer to make sure your coils are uniform.

Roll Shapes

To save time, create all the coil pieces you need for the design first. Start a new coil by tearing off the length of paper you need from the larger strip. A 4- to 5-inch piece is good for 11mm to 12mm size coils. Use more paper for larger coils, less for smaller ones. Use the ruler to make sure all the pieces you tear are the same length.

Insert the end of a the quilling paper into the slot on the quilling tool. Hold the slot between your thumb and index finger as you turn the tool to curl the paper. Hold the coil snugly as it starts so the centre will be tight, but then relax your pressure as the coil grows bigger. Gently slide the coil down off the tool when it's finished and place it in the quilling template, if you're using one, to allow it to expand to fill the template space. Dab a tiny amount of glue to the end of the coil and glue it to the paper edge behind it. Use tweezers to pinch the edges together for a second or two to be sure they stick. Then set the coil aside to dry and move on to another shape.

Construct Designs

To construct larger designs, glue the quilled shapes together to form patterns. With quilling you can create circles by simply coiling the paper, but other shapes are also possible. Pinch opposite edges of the circle and it will become an "eye" shape. Pinch just one side to form a "tear drop." Flatten four sides of the circle and it can become a square, or flatten three sides to make a triangle shape. Curl opposite ends of the same paper inward toward each other, then pinch the bottom and you will have a heart shape. Roll the ends the opposite way and pinch the middle for a curled "V" shape.

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About the Author

Katelyn Kelley worked in information technology as a computing and communications consultant and web manager for 15 years before becoming a freelance writer in 2003. She specializes in instructional and technical writing in the areas of computers, gaming and crafts. Kelley holds a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and computer science from Boston College.