Paper Crafts Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Making 15+ Simple Quilling Shapes

Paper quilling is an enjoyable way to create whimsical novelties or masterful works of art. You can quickly roll up a greeting card or spend hundreds of hours manipulating pieces of paper into intricate paper mosaics or sculpture. How you use the craft and what you make is really up to you and how much time you want to spend (and perhaps how much patience you have), but the overall concept always begins with the same thing: rolled paper shapes.

Paper Quilling Tutorial on Craftsy

Images via Little Circles

Learn how to make the basic quilled shapes so you can use them in any project. Let's go through them one by one in this beginner-friendly paper quilling tutorial.

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Supplies

Quilling is a very inexpensive craft to learn. For this paper quilling tutorial, you will need the following:

  • A slotted quilling tool
  • Quilling glue in a needle-tip bottle
  • Scissors
  • Package of quilling paper strips
  • Tweezers

For beginners, I recommend using 1/4" wide quilling paper. The wider width gives you more to grip and it is easier to manipulate. Once you have the shapes mastered, you will find it much easier to quill with narrower strips if you wish. Cut the strips 8.5" long for the purposes of this tutorial.

quilling supplies

How to make open and closed coils

Simple circles are the first shapes you'll learn, as they are the base for most other shapes you'll create.

How to quill

Step 1: 

To begin, insert a piece of quilling paper into the slot of your quilling tool. Try to get the edge of the paper and the edge of the slot to line up as perfectly as you can. Using a slotted tool will naturally leave a small crimp in the center of your coil, but if you allow the paper to hang over the edge of the tool, the crimp will be much more visible.

qulling coil

Step 2:

Roll the tool with your dominant hand either towards your body or away from it; whichever feels most comfortable to you. Hold the strip taught with your other hand.

glue closed coil

Step 3:

To make a closed coil, as you near the end of the strip, place a small amount of glue near the end of the strip and roll to complete. When you remove it from the tool, do not allow it to expand — that's what keeps it tight.

open coil

To make an open coil, remove the coil from the tool and allow the coil to expand. Once it has fully expanded, add the dab of glue and press the strip down carefully to secure.

closed and open coilopen coils multiple

How to make a quilled teardrop

Teardrop 1

Place an open coil between your thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand. Arrange the inside coils evenly or as you wish them to appear in the finished shape.

teardrop 2

With your dominant hand, pinch the paper where you want the point to be to create a teardrop shape.

teardrop shape

Teardrop variations

In addition to creating basic shapes, there are often more ways you can manipulate your paper to create secondary shapes. The teardrop is an excellent example of this.

Slight curve tear drop

By slightly curving the teardrop around your thumb as you shape it, you can create a subtle shift in shape without compromising the center coils. To further this effect, you can wrap the teardrop around your quilling tool or another cylindrical object.

curved teardrop

Pressing the shape around your quilling tool allows for a more obvious curved shape throughout. From here, you can easily create a paisley shape.

paisley shape

You can curl the shape from the point to the base by simply rolling it between your fingers. Simple changes bring a lot of varied effects.

teardrop variations

How to make a quilled marquis

You can create a marquis shape by first making a teardrop shape and then pinching the opposite end as well.

marquis

The marquis' final shape is determined by how much the coil is pinched or pressed together and where you place the center of the coil. Play around with various placements and pressure to create multiple versions of this basic quilled shape.

marquis

How to quill a tulip shape

To create a tulip shape, begin by first rolling a marquis. Turn the shape on its side and pinch a center peak with your fingers.

tulip shape

How to quill a slug shape

slug shape

This slug shape is another shape that begins with a marquis. It can be created by either wrapping one end around the tip of your finger or a quilling tool and then doing the same to the other end but in the opposite direction.

slug shape

How to make a quilled square or diamond

To make a diamond or a square, first need to create a basic marquis shape. After shaping, rotate the marquis 90 degrees and then pinch both sides again. This will create a diamond shape. If you want to continue on to making a square, gently open up the shape between your fingers to complete.

quilled square

Square variations

Playing around with how much of each corner you chose to pinch when creating your square can give you very different results.

  • The example on the left side of the picture below shows how only applying pressure to the outside corners will give you a square with a rounded center.
  • The center square was made by completely pressing the open coil together on one side, opening it up and then pinching just the corners on the opposite side.
  • The final square on the right got its unique center by completely pressing down the coil on both turns. 
square

Yet another variation can be made to the square shape by applying pressure to the outside structure with the use of your fingers or the stem of your quilling tool.

Square variations

How to make a quilled rectangle

Rectangles and squares are made very similarly. The difference is in how much you rotate the marquis shape before pinching additional angles. Rotate it only slightly before pinching and then open the shape to reveal the perfect rectangle.

rectangle

Rectangle variations

quadrilateral shape

Alternately, you can create a quadrilateral shape by making your four corners at uneven intervals. This shape is especially useful when making quilled paper mosaics and you find yourself needing to fill in an odd space.

quadrilateral shape

How to quill a semi-circle

semi circle

A semi-circle is created by taking an open coil and pinching two corners while leaving the paper above them round. This shape can alternatively be made by pressing an open coil onto a hard surface like a table top and sliding your fingers down the sides carefully. Try both methods to find which suits you best.

half moon shape

Curving the straight edge of the shape will allow you to turn the semi-circle into more of a crescent moon shape.

half moon shape

How to quill a triangle

triangle

Make a quilled triangle by first creating a teardrop shape. From this position, you can either pinch two additional angles using your fingers or use the table top method. Once again, try both to see what works best for you.

triangle

Triangle variation

shark fin

You can create a shape that resembles a shark fin by pressing in two sides of your triangle and leaving the third side flat.

two triangles

How to quill an arrow

Arrow 1

Create this shape by first making a teardrop. Pull the center down towards the base and hold in place with your fingers.

arrow 2

Using the long side of the slotted needle, press down deeply into the base. Release the tool and smooth the curve out with your fingers to shape.

Arrow 3

How to quill an arrowhead

Arrowhead 1

This shape also begins with a teardrop shape. Hold the pointed end in your non-dominant hand and pinch the base end into a tight point. Without letting go, slide your fingers down to meet the fingers of your opposite hand to create the side angles.

arrowhead 2

Heart quilling instructions

heart 1

Once again, begin with a teardrop. Press in the base of the shape by using the point of your quilling tool to make a small indentation. Release the tool and carefully press in each side of the heart to complete the center crease.

heart 2

Pentagon and star quilling tutorial

Pentagon

To make a pentagon, first create an elongated semi-circle as shown.

pentagon 2

Pinch the center of the flat side in the same method used when making the tulip shape; this is the peak of your pentagon. Keeping the peak in the center, square off the bottom with two equal pinches on either side.

pentagon 3

To turn the pentagon into a star, simply press in on each flat surface with your fingers or a quilling tool and then further refine each angle into peaks.

star

Quilling a holly leaf

This shape is far and away the most difficult to create and has rightfully been saved for last. I suggest getting very comfortable with the making of all of the other shapes before attempting this one for sanity's sake.

holly leaf 1

Begin by making a marquis. Insert a set of tweezers into the shape; try to grip only about a third of the inside coil.

holly leaf 2

Keeping the grip with your tweezers, turn the marquis as needed and pinch a small point on either side of each peak.

Alternatively, the holly leaf can be made by first making a square, adding a point to each end and then shaping all of the angles into peaks. I personally have found the tweezer method to be easier, but be sure to try both ways to find which gives you better results. 

holly leaf 3

With a bit of patience and a little practice, you will soon have all these basic quilling shapes mastered. Once comfortable, you will easily be able to take on any quilling project your creative heart desires to make. Happy rolling!

Quilled Shapes

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6 Comments

Kristen

This is the MOST comprehensive and beautifully laid out tutorial that I could possibly locate. Your shapes and photos are exemplary. Thank you for providing this to the quilling community.
Kristen

Reply
Connie

Just a beginner how do I learn how much of the strip to use for each coil. Is it always the full strip?

Reply
Madison feehan

You can decide what lengths you want to roll, 1 inch, 6 inch, half a strip, or a whole strip, just know that the more paper you use, the bigger your shape will be!

Reply
Carrie Croker

I completely agree with Kristen, this is the absolute best tutorial I have ever seen. You have showed every single step to making these shapes and the pictures show the completed result perfectly as well. Thank you so much!
Carrie

Reply
Sandra Mason

A tutorial on how to glue the quilled shapes to card stock would be appreciated!!

Reply
Elena Diel

Where do you put the whole project ? I mean what paper do you use? (the base ) thanks

Reply

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