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How to Quill Paper - Totally Green Crafts

How to Quill Paper

Paper quilling is a wonderfully versatile hobby.

The sheer number of creative creations you can make with a few strips of paper, some glue, and a few handy quilling tools is astounding. 

Quilling can be used to make beautiful Christmas cards, greetings cards, pictures, 3D models, flowers, abstract art, and many, many more.

But how exactly do you get started with quilling when you’re new to the hobby?

We’ve put together a few tips to cover the basics, and to show you how to quill paper like a pro!

What is paper quilling?

Paper quilling is the art of rolling strips of paper, shaping them, then gluing them together to create pretty designs.

There are several different methods that you can use to create beautiful decorative images. You can loop it, curl it, roll it, twist it - the aim is to create shapes that will work together to become a bigger piece of art.

The exact origin of paper quilling is unknown, but it is thought to have been originated by Egyptian nuns, who used it to decorate book covers, as well as various religious items. Quilling has evolved from there, and has become a hugely popular hobby for many across the globe.

What equipment do you need for paper quilling?

If you’re new to quilling, the only tools you’ll need to get you started will be a toothpick to help you roll the strips of paper, and some craft glue.

However, if you’re a keen quiller and plan on creating loads of different art pieces, we would recommend investing in some quality tools so that you can make your quilling experience easier.

Slotted tool

One of the most important tools you’ll need is a slotted tool.

This little gadget allows you to curl paper quickly, and will be more efficient than using your trusty toothpick. 

A slotted tool can curl coils much tighter than you can by hand and will help you to power through your creative projects.

Needle tool

A needle tool will also be useful, as it can help you to apply glue to the harder to reach areas of your coil or quilling design.

This is a tapered needle with a wooden handle, and can also be used to help maintain a steady hand when rolling paper. 

You can also use it instead of a slotted tool, especially if you want perfect centers to your quilled paper - however, it can be trickier to master than its slotted counterpart.

Other quilling tools

While a slotted tool, a needle tool, quilling paper strips, and glue are all the basics you need to get started, there are other tools that might be worth taking a look at - depending on how often you plan to use them. 

Tweezers can come in handy for creating delicate coils, as well as for inserting paper into tighter spaces. A quilling board will be handy for ensuring that all the coiled pieces are the same sizes, or to measure out a shape to fit a certain size.

A crimper tool could also be handy if you want to experiment with different textured paper, or just use it to create different patterns. 

When choosing the glue for your quilling projects, try to get hold of a bottle with a thin tip at the end - this will make applying it to your quilled paper much easier.

How to quill paper

Once you’ve got the basic tools to hand, all you need to do next is decide which shapes you would like to quill.

We’re going to cover some of the more basic shapes, as most of the shapes you can create will stem from using these as your base.


To create the basic coiled circle shape that will be the foundation for all of your quilling projects, you’ll need your slotted tool.

You can also use your needle tool if you don’t want the crimp that the slotted tool can sometimes create at the center of your circle, but this can be trickier to master.

Try to get the edge of your quilling paper as close to the slot as possible so as to minimize the crimp. If you let the paper hang over the edge of the tool, the crimp will be more noticeable.

Next, roll the paper with your dominant hand either towards you or away from you - whichever is more comfortable.

To get a closed coil, place a small amount of glue at the edge of the strip and roll to complete the shape. Don’t allow it to expand once you remove it from the slotted tool, otherwise, it won’t be nice and tight.

For a more open coil, allow it to expand once you remove it from the tool before you apply any glue. Once you’re happy with the shape of the coil, attach the glue to the end of the paper coil, and press to seal it.


To create a teardrop shape, start with an open coil. Hold the open coil between your thumb and forefinger and arrange the coils inside as you would like them to appear in your finished shape.

Using your dominant hand, you can then pinch the paper where you would like to create the point of the teardrop shape.

You can do many variations of the teardrop shape. Even by using simple methods such as curving the teardrop around your thumb while you make it or pressing it around your quilling tool can influence the finished shape.

The teardrop shape can also be used as the basis for many other larger shapes.


A marquis shape is very similar to a teardrop.

Simply start by creating a teardrop shape, but instead of pinching just the one side, you will also need to pinch the opposite side of the teardrop.

You can play around with applying pressure to the marquis or by arranging the center coil to create different inner shapes with the coils.

Once you’ve mastered the marquis, you can start to experiment with other shapes that branch off from it.

Tulip, slug, square, diamond, and rectangle are all shapes that can be created from a basic marquis shape.

Top tips for successful quilling

Now that you’ve got all the information you need to get started with quilling, here are a few of our top tips to ensure that your creative projects are as successful as possible.

Beginner tips

As a newbie, your quilling experience will be much easier if you use pre-cut quilling paper. That’s because all the strips will be precisely cut, and will be easy for you to shape with your quilling tools. 

It can also be easy to get carried away with complicated projects. Try and stick to smaller, simpler projects at first until you can build your confidence with quilling as a hobby.

You can get premade quilling patterns as well to help you when you’re first getting started.

Use glue sparingly

When in doubt, use as little glue as possible. Using too much glue can easily ruin the project you’re working on, and force you to start over from the beginning.

Try to use it sparingly, and it will save you from having to scrap a project you’ve spent hours working on. Remember - you can always use extra glue if it’s necessary, but it’s a little trickier to remove excess glue.

Speaking of glue - remember to buy a bottle that comes with a thinner tip. This will make applying it to your paper so much easier, and will allow you to use small amounts at a time, as needed.

Acetate sheet

You might also find it helpful to start your quilling projects on an acetate sheet.

That’s because it’s durable enough to give your creations stability, and once the glue has dried you can simply remove it from the acetate.

Remember to wash off any leftover glue so that it’s ready to use for your next project!

Final thoughts on quilling

So there you have it!

You should now be armed with all the knowledge you need to get started with quilling as a hobby.

Just remember to let your creative juices flow, and enjoy yourself.

With the above tips and guidance, you’ll be creating quilled masterpieces in no time at all!

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