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This guide aims to help you get to grips with the basics of quilling. It covers essential materials, must-have tools, and basic techniques to help get you started!
When cutting your own quilling strips, we suggest that you use good-quality acid-free paper to achieve the best results in your projects. Paper with a light gsm will curl differently to paper with a heavier gsm. To achieve a tight curl on your paper, you should use paper ranging between 80gsm and 100gsm; to achieve a looser curl, you should use paper ranging between 120gsm and 170gsm.
You should cut your quilling strips from coloured paper sheets which are coloured through to the core. Some coloured papers are not dyed through to the core; this means that when you cut them, you will discover they’re white in the centre. Be mindful of this when deciding which paper to use. Take a look at our Paper & Card Guide for more information on the weights and types of paper available.
When it comes to cutting your quilling strips, you have a few options available to you. You could spend some time measuring and cutting your paper strips using a ruler and scissors; this method is simple, but it could take some time to do. If you decide to cut your paper strips in this way, we recommend using small craft scissors with a sharp point as they make clean, more precise cuts.
Alternatively, you could use a guillotine to cut your paper strips. A guillotine is much quicker than cutting by hand and it enables you to achieve precise cuts, meaning the paper strips can be cut to an exact width.
If you have a die-cutting machine at home, a quilling die will make this task easy and also cut down on time. Like a guillotine, a die-cutting machine and die will enable you to cut your quilling strips to an exact width and ensure a smooth finish.
As well as straight-edge quilling dies, there is a wonderful selection of floral quilling dies available for crafting 3D flowers. These dies are quick and simple to use. All you need to do is cut the design into your chosen paperstock and then coil the die-cut into a flower. Simple!
If you want to get to grips with quilling without the fuss of preparing paper strips, then pre-cut quilling strips are the perfect choice. They allow you to get crafting straight away and come in a brilliant array of colours and widths so you can create diverse, eye-catching designs. Usually, pre-cut quilling strips come in the following widths (approx.): 1.5mm (1/16”), 6mm (1/4”), 3mm (1/8”), and 9.5mm (3/8”). The most commonly used size is 3mm (1/8”) – crafters find this width of paper the easiest to work with as it is easy to coil and manipulate.
A slotted tool is the most common tool used for quilling paper strips. Thanks to a small slot in the needle securing your paper in place, it enables you to quickly and easily roll a coil. Although a slotted tool is effective, it will leave a small crimp in the centre of your coil where you secured your paper to the needle. This crimp is hardly noticeable and shouldn’t affect your overall design; however, if you would prefer a cleaner aesthetic, you should use a quilling needle.
A quilling needle works in a similar way to the slotted tool; however, instead of slotting your paper strip into the needle, you coil your paper strip around the needle while keeping it secure with your finger. This is a slightly trickier way of quilling, but it will give your coils a clean aesthetic.
Tweezers are a must-have in your quilling kit. They are useful for handling delicate coils, preventing them from unravelling. They are also useful for positioning coils and applying smaller coils into intricate quilling designs.
Before you start quilling, you need to decide how big you want your quilled artwork to be – this will determine what size each individual quilling coil needs to be. This may sound complicated, but it just means that the bigger your coils are, the bigger your overall design will be. This is where a quilling board and/or quilling ruler come in handy!
A quilling board features pre-sized circles (some boards feature other shapes too) which you place your coils in to create your desired size (and shape) of coil; it provides an easy way for you to enlarge coils without worrying about them unravelling!
A quilling ruler indicates what length of paper you need to create a certain size of coil. Some quilling rulers also feature pre-made templates (just like a quilling board) for enlarging coils.
A quilling comb is a relatively new quilling tool; it works in a similar way to a quilling needle and a slotted tool; you wrap your paper strip around the prongs to create a coil. However, the finished coil will be larger than one produced with a quilling needle or slotted tool due to the spacing of the prongs – the further apart the prongs are, the larger the coil will be. A quilling comb is particularly useful for creating large coils that will frame more intricate designs, as well as creating detailed elements, such as petals and leaves.
A quilling pattern tells you how to create different quilling coils and how to coordinate these coils to create complete designs. A fantastic resource for beginners, it teaches you the best method for creating each coil type and provides you with template designs so you can practise and perfect the techniques.
If you want to take your quilled designs to the next level, a quilling crimper is the perfect tool. It does exactly what its name suggests – it crimps quilling paper, enabling you to create quirky designs! It is easy to use; all you have to do is place the end of your paper strip between the two crimping gears, turn the gears slowly as the strip feeds through, and voila! You’ll have perfect crimped paper to quill with!
When it comes to gluing the ends of your coils and applying your design to your chosen medium, we recommend using a clear adhesive. This will prevent any unsightly glue marks from showing on your design. For ease of use, we also recommend using a glue with an application tip; this will enable you to apply the glue evenly to your quilling elements, giving your finished design a clean aesthetic.