10 Hacks to Make Paper Quilling Easier, Faster & More Fun

While quilling is quickly gaining  popularity, it’s still hard to find others who practice the craft. Makers always count on the wisdom of more experienced crafters to teach us the tricks of the trade — but when there aren’t many quillers out there, where are you supposed to learn the ropes? New quillers, you’re in luck: the experienced members of a large online quilling group shared their favorite tips, hacks and must-know quilling techniques with me to share with you!

1. Colorful backgrounds highlight your quilling.

Image of quilled mosaic in progress on a colored background

Gluing colorful coils to a white background can be amazing when working on a typography project, but in a mosaics, a white background is more of a distraction. There’s a lot to look at in art made entirely of quilled shapes, and the eye will naturally be drawn to the contrast that a white background creates. Help the viewer see what you want them to focus on by using a colored background.

2. Use thread snippers vs. scissors.

Image of quilling snippers

Images via Little Circles

Big and bulky scissors can be a pain (both literally and figuratively). Most projects require a lot of cutting, and the weight of scissors can cause pain in your wrist. Opt instead for a lightweight pair of thread snippers from the sewing section of your local craft store. They are perfect for snipping off the glue-bound ends of quilling paper and are small enough to fit into any quilling tool box.

3. Get a perfect center in every coil.

Image of closed coil on quilling tool

Everyone wants perfect coils, but quilling with a needle tool is slower and trickier than with a slotted tool. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to achieve a perfectly round center, sans crimping, with a slotted tool.

My favorite method is to keep turning your quilling tool after you have reached the end of your strip until you feel the tool give way. Tool tears the small piece of paper that would have been the crimp and you are left with a perfect coil. If your quilling tool cannot stand up to this kind of twisting, however, you can use a pin or piercing tool to smooth out the crimp afterward.

4. Rip instead of snip.

Image of ripped quilling paper Image of quilled ring with ripped paper edge

I am a big fan of clean lines and hiding all seams when possible. But sometimes there’s nowhere to hide. If you do not like the look of paper seams, you can rip the end of your quilling strip instead of snipping it with scissors to soften the impact. 

5. Roll with — not against — the quilling strip’s edge.

Image of 'right' & 'wrong' sides of quilling strips

When quilling paper is cut, the blade slices from above, in a downward motion. This causes both of the long edges to be slightly rolled downward. It’s so slight, in fact, that it’s hard to see with the naked eye, but you can feel it when you run the strip between your fingers.

For a more perfect coil, roll with the curve: the downward curve should be facing down. It’s a bit tricky to catch when you first try (and it is not essential to good-looking quilling), but after paying attention, it becomes almost instinctual.

6. Use a needle form before a quilling comb.

Image of quilling needle form Image of quilling coil

Confession time. I had been quilling for more than seven years before I ever used a quilling comb — not because I didn’t want to, but because I found them tricky and time consuming. It just didn’t seem worth it. My friend and fellow quiller Kristen Brunton shared this handy little trick to get things started.

First, roll a small coil using a quilling needle form; then transfer it to your quilling comb and make your shape. This keeps the center of your coil in place and your sanity in check.

7. Double up your strips for a grippy roll.

Image of quilling two strips at once

Sometimes you need to roll a really large coil and more often than not, the center breaks free from the quilling tool at some point mid-roll. The only option you are left with is to roll the remainder by hand. You can stop this from happening by doubling up the strip to start your coil: The double thickness keeps everything in its rightful place.. Either fold your first strip over or use two strips on top of each other.

8. Use nippers to fix your mistakes.

We all try our best to make every coil perfect. We carefully watch our glue and match up our seams as best we can. But we can’t always be perfect! This is where my very favorite tip comes to save the day. Use cuticle nippers (found at any drugstore in the nail care aisle) to snip off an uneven edge or remove unwanted glue that has dried. No quilling kit is complete without them.

Image of using cuticle nippers to remove uneven edge

9. Sponges are a quillers best friend.

Image of quilling glue upside down

This nifty setup is pure brilliance and its function is twofold. Use the container to hold your needle-tip glue bottle upside down to ensure that it’s ready to go the next time you need it. If you moisten the sponge before use, it will keep your glue from drying out and clogging the tip. Additionally, you can use the sponge’s surface to wipe away any glue that finds its way onto your fingers.

To make your own, cut a kitchen sponge and place it inside a small dish. Mine fits inside my quilling kit.

Image of using moist sponge to wipe away glue

10. An eye pin does the trick every time

Image of needle tip glue bottle

So you left your cap off and your needle tip is clogged. It’s OK — you probably didn’t even know about tip No. 9 yet! All is not lost. An eye pin is the perfect solution to unplugging the tip so you can get back to making art. Its blunt end makes it a safer option than a sewing pin. Just avoid leaving it in the tip for a long time, as the pin can rust and discolor your glue.

Give these 10 tricks a try — I hope you’ll find them as useful as I do. If you have more to share, please do so in the comments below! Sharing what works for us can only serve to make the quilling community a better place to be.

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