Quilling For Beginners: Basic Tools, Shapes and Supplies

Have you ever seen pictures of decorative art items made using narrow strips of paper and became amazed by the artistry and the perfect shapes? Well, this particular art form is known as quilling and it has been practiced since ancient times. Among the paper-based art forms, quilling is a lesser-known art form compared to origami and kirigami. This may look complicated, but it is super easy to make if you have the right tools. In this article I have discussed the basics of quilling as a Complete Quilling Guide for beginners..


Table of Contents

What is Paper Quilling?

Quilling or paper filigree as otherwise known is done by rolling strips of papers into different shapes and gluing them together to create various types of mesmerizing art effects. This is a creative, interesting, and inexpensive art of making paper designs and objects with colorful paper strips.

Quilling Guide for Beginners: How to get started?

To get started, all you need is quilling strips and some quilling tools, such as – a quilling needle, quilling board, pincers/ tweezers, and glue. After getting the right supplies you need to learn some basic quilling shapes to get started and from there you can use your imagination to produce exquisite art pieces.

Must have Basic quilling tools & supplies: 
  • Quilling strips
  • Slotted quilling tool 
  • Quilling needle
  • Quilling Board
  • Tweezers
  • Precision tip glue applicator


Quilling Paper Strips 

The first supply that you need to start your quilling project is narrow paper strips. These paper strips are rolled into different shapes and figures based on the requirement of the art project.

Paper strips are available in different sizes. Most strips are 3mm, 5mm, 7mm, or 10mm wide and 30-50 cm long. These are available in various colors and quality, i.e. plain color, metallic shade, metallic edge strips, dual shaded, and so on. Usually, they are sold in sets of different colors but you can also buy single color strips according to what you need. Moreover, you can make paper strips yourself at your home, but it is a time-consuming process without the appropriate tools.


Slotted Quilling Tool

Slotted tools are used for rolling up the strip papers easily. This tool makes it easier for beginners to perfectly roll up the strict according to their needs. A slotted tool is a thick needle with a slot or cut in the middle of the needle. This needle is placed in a comfortable handle to rotate the needle to make coils. Firstly, one end of the strips is inserted into the slot, and then by rotating the handle coils of different shapes can be made.


Quilling needle

Some paper strips may be too thick for a slotted tool. One can use the quilling needle to roll up papers. These works on the same principle but without the slot in the needle. Also, the needle is thinner than the slotted tool. Thinner needles mean that the coils can be tight and there is no hole in the middle. Any paper piercing tool or even a toothpick may work in the same way.


Quilling Board:

The quilling board helps you giving shapes to the coils of paper strips. After rolling up the strips you need to place the coil into the mold of shape in the board. After that, you let the coil loose and squeeze it to any shape you want. There are different types of quilling boards available. Some with molds for different shapes and some straight up pins to achieve various designs. The pin-boards are used for complicated designs by the pros.  



Tweezers help you fine-tune the coil shapes. It is particularly useful in getting precision in your designs. Tweezers are basically used to hold the tiny quilled pieces where the hand can not be reached. It is useful for adjusting the coils and giving narrow shapes while you glue them together. It is a very essential tool to master and will make quilling easier.


Precision tip glue applicator 

This tool is a must-have for quilled crafters. After you have rolled up the strips, you have to apply liquid glue to it to hold it together. And without the precision tip, the application of the right amount of glue in the right place is quite difficult. There are liquid glue bottles with fine tips or alternatively, you can buy precision tip applicator bottles and insert the glue into them. Using pen size fine tip in the application of glue gives you a smudge-free finish.


Advanced quilling tools for expert crafters:

Apart from the basic tools mentioned above, you can use some other tools to enhance the quality of your quilling work. Some of those advanced quilling tools for expert crafters are as following:


Quilling Comb 

Quilling combs are exactly like regular combs but with thinner metal prongs. You can use your hair comb for a similar effect but the thicker teeth of the comb are a problem. Quilling comb is used for making paper flowers and coils of similar type.


Fringing scissors 

Fringing scissors are made of multiple layers of the blade to cut the same sized fringes/ cuts of a strip of paper. These strips are then used to create fringe flowers by rolling the strips together.


Border Buddy 

This is used for creating hollow quilled shapes with the help of a pyramid-shaped tool that has different levels with different sizes. You need to wrap the paper straps around the border buddy tool to get some amazing hollow shaped coils which can be used individually or together to create dazzling items.


Also used for advanced quelling effects:



  • Curling coach 
  • Mini molds 
  • Spiral Quilling blossom plate 
  • Crimper 


Basic Paper Quilling Shapes Instructions


Summary: These paper quilling instructions will help you get started on the amazing art or paper quilling.

These basic shapes are frequently used in almost all quilling projects. The instructions given will help you to create each shape. After learning these basic shapes, anyone will be able to make almost any design in quilling!


  1. Tight Coil: Put a quilling stripe into the quilling needle and roll the stripe with the needle. Slide the quilling needle with one hand and hold the stripe with the other. Make it tight and fix it by applying glue to the tail.
  2. Loose Coil: Make a tight coil and take it off from the quilling needle before applying glue. Then put it on the quilling board into the circle of which size of loose coil you want to make. Allow the coil to expand and glue the loose end.
  3. Half Circle: Make a loose coil. Hold coil in fingers and gently press the top with thumbs until approx. 1/3 of the coil is indented and pinch points at each end of the indentation.
  4. Curved Half Circle: Make a half-circle and gently press the plain side of it inside the circle.
  5. Crescent: Make a half circle and pinch the two sharp heads of it rigidly.
  6. Ring: Take a quilling stripe and roll it around the handle of the quilling needle / around a pen and apply glue in the tail.
  7. Tear Drop: Make a loose coil and pinch one side of the coil.
  8. Shaped Tear Drop (type 1): Make a teardrop first. Then, bend the pointed head slightly to one side (while doing this you can use a pen or handle of the quilling needle).
  9. Shaped Tear Drop (type 2): Take a Shaped Tear Drop (type 1) and using the thumb and index finger make the sharp head a little blunt and curve this head inside slightly.
  10. Marquise / Eye: Make a loose coil and pinch both sides of it.
  11. Slug: Take marquise and bend both points slightly to opposite directions.
  12. Triangle: Make a teardrop and pinch two more points keeping equal distance from the sharp head.
  13. Square: Make a marquise and pinch two more points between the first two.
  14. Curved Square: Take a square and using your thumbs and index fingers press slightly to the inner side between every two sharp heads.
  15. Diamond: Make a square and press one set of opposite points slightly towards the center.
  16. Rectangle: Make a marquise and pinch two more points keeping approximately 1/3 distance between the first two points (either clockwise or anti-clockwise).
  17. Heart: Make a marquise. Push anyone head of it towards the center.
  18. Heart Scroll: Take a quilling stripe and fold it in halves. Roll each end inward the fold.
  19. V Scroll: It’s just opposite to ‘heart scroll’. Take a quilling stripe. Fold it in halves and roll each end outward the fold.
  20. Tulip/ Duck Foot: Make a loose coil. Hold coil in fingers and using thumbs and index fingers gently press into 3 points making middle point slightly higher than ends.
  21. Star: Make a loose coil and identify 5 points for making 5 heads of the star. Using your thumbs and index fingers press slightly to the inner side between every two sharp heads.
  22. Tapered Roll: Make a tight coil. Place the center of it on the head of a sharp pencil and slowly push the outside of the coil towards the body of the pencil.
  23. Arrow: Make a heart. Press the round 2 heads of it and turn those into sharp ones.


Some tips for beginners:


  • After taking a quilling stripe in hand, you will notice that among the two sides of the stripe one is smoother than the other. While rolling the stripe for making any shape, keep the smoother side as the outer one.
  • Be very careful before pressing and folding. Because if once a shape is given, it’s difficult to change the shape into another and it also destroys the smoothness.
  • Buy readymade paper strips, for beginners making the paper strips from scratch can be troublesome.
  •  Before starting any project, first try to master the basic shapes and the usage of the common quilling tools.
  • Be very careful while applying the glue, a smudge free finished piece is essential for the right look. And it is very easy to mess up, so apply the glue very carefully with a precise tip applicator;

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