The Ultimate Guide to Paper Quilling Tools

When it comes to paper quilling, getting started might seem intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple — especially because you only need a few basic supplies to master the basics. A quilling tool, some paper and a dab of glue are all you need to begin learning this fun paper craft.

Quilling supplies Images via Little Circles unless otherwise noted

Working with those three tools, you’ll get the basic quilling shapes down fairly quickly. But then, you will inevitably want to put your new skills to use and make something awesome, which means you’ll add a few extra tools to your supply kit. Let’s explore all of the new (and classic) paper quilling tools that are now available and the basics of how to use them.

Quilling tools

Slotted quilling tool

Slotted quilling tool

The most common and easiest tool to learn with is the slotted quilling tool. By placing a quilling strip into the slot, you can easily and quickly roll the tool and create a coil to be shaped without the strip moving around much. The slot does leave a slight crimp in the center of each spiral, which may not be to your liking. If that is the case, you can opt to use the next tool on our list.

Needle Quilling Tool

Needle tool

When using a needle tool, you curl the paper around the needle and into a coil. The premise is simple enough, but it takes a bit of practice to become proficient and even longer to create coils quickly. Once you get the hang of it, however, you will be rewarded with extremely tiny and crimp-free centers.

Paper bead tool

Paper bead tools

Paper bead tools are also extremely useful and can be used to create a variety shapes determined by how the paper has been cut. Similar in appearance and function to the slotted quilling tool, the bead tool accommodates wider cuts and multiple strips of paper at once. 

Quilling paper

Culture Pop quilling paper

Paper, of course, is the most important material when it comes to quilling, but it’s often also the most overlooked. A  high-quality paper can make a huge contribution to the overall look of any quilling project.

Today’s quilling paper suppliers offer a vast array of pre-cut quilling strips in numerous colors, widths, weights and finishes. However, if you cannot find exactly what you need, you can easily cut your own with a ruler, self-healing mat and a utility knife.

Culture Pop Quilling Paper

Quilling forms

Little Circles quilling dowel/mold forms

In recent years, a new wave of paper quilling tools has come to surface, to the delight of quilling enthusiasts. Quilling forms have transformed the craft in many fun and exciting ways, and they enable quillers to design and roll more freeform projects.

Stacked Quilling Forms

Stacked forms

Stacked quilling forms let you create paper rings in many sizes without the need to purchase and store numerous dowel forms. These are often used to create an outside shape to fill in later. You can easily quill your own stacked quilling form using ½” quilling paper and a bead roller, or you can purchase one from a quilling paper retailer.

Quilling Needle Forms

Image via Erin Curet

Needle forms

Another useful addition to the quilling world: needle forms. These bamboo forms, originally used for knitting, allow quillers to create small rings of many sizes.

Quilled earrings by Erin Curet

The small rings these needles create are useful in jewelry, art and paper crafts. Due to their small size, once the ring is removed from the form it can be further shaped and either filled or used to create negative space.

Quilled mosaic by Erin Curet

Image via Erin Curet

Cookie cutters

Commonly used as a form in quilling (even though it was not intended for this purpose) is the cookie cutter. Quilling paper strips can be guided around and to pretty much any shape, and a cookie cutter helps contain strips in a predefined area. This ornament made in the shape of Michigan is an excellent example.

Quilled Michigan ornament by Erin Curet

Image via Erin Curet

Quilling molds

Little Circles quilling dowel/mold form

Quilling molds are used mostly in 3-D quilling, but the domes that are made from them can also be found in art. After creating a tightly closed coil with your quilling tool, you gently place it over the appropriately sized mold and glide the paper downward.

Quilled Creations mini mold

Once the dome has been made, you can continue shaping it or apply glue on the inside surface to ensure it keeps its shape.

Quilled molded beads.

Placing two halves together creates great beads or spheres for other artistic purposes.

Quilled dome bead necklace by Erin Curet

Image via Erin Curet

Everything else

Scissors best used for quilling

Scissors

Good scissors are a must when quilling. Thread snippers, originally intended for sewing projects, work extremely well for the tiny paper cuts quilling calls for.

Fringing Scissors

Fringing scissors (in addition to regular scissors) are very useful when creating fringed flowers.

Finging Scissors

The five blades create small strips that you can wind or quill to create flowers. A quilling fringer or a regular pair of scissors can also accomplish this style.

Fringed Quilled Card

Image via tinytwirlspaperquilling

Quilling crimper Quilling Crimped Paper

Images via Ann Martin

Crimpers

Quilling crimpers create a zigzag texture to quilling paper that can then be gently rolled into loose coils. Crimpers are especially fun for working with children.

Quilling comb

Quilling comb

A quilling comb is a specialty tool that is used to create intricately laced loops. Individual or multiple strips can be weaved into infinite patterns and are often incorporated into floral art and landscapes.

Quilling circle guide

Quilling guides

Quilling guides can be a huge help when first learning how to control your tool and paper (and for children who want to try the craft). Simply slide your slotted quilling tool in the guide before inserting paper, and you are ready to roll. The flat surface will ensure your coil stays put without springing open unexpectedly.

Angeled tweezers

Tweezers

Angled tweezers are a must have in any quiller’s kit. When gluing or placing small pieces in place, these tweezers can be the only way to get the job done while keeping your sanity intact.

quilling circle sizer ruler

Circle sizers

Circle sizers are great for beginning quillers to make uniform shapes. Recessed spaces allow you to release your coil without fear that it will be too loose or a different size from others. This version has a handy ruler, but other, larger versions might have extra openings for projects that require exact symmetry.

quilling glue

Quilling glue

Last but definitely not least on our list quilling glue in a needle-tip bottle. Using the right glue is just as important as using the right paper and tools, though which glue is best depends on personal preference. Glue can truly make or break your quilling experience and projects, so when trying out different types, keep in mind the ease of use and drying time.

This handy bottle is perfect for keeping the flow and mess in check and ensuring a pleasurable quilling experience. Quilling is an extremely creative outlet and the addition of these great tools only makes it more so.

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