How to Do Paper Quilling Without Tools: A Guide for Beginners

How to Do Paper Quilling Without Tools

Do you love the look of paper quilling but don't have any quilling tools? Or maybe you've tried paper quilling before and had a lot of trouble with the tools? Starting new things may seem difficult, but we're here to show you that paper quilling is easy and fun - no tools are required!

This blog post will show you how to do paper quilling using just your fingers. We will also provide tips to make paper quilling a lot easier, even without tools. So get ready to learn how to do paper quilling like a pro!

What is Quilling

Quilling is a papercraft art form that involves using thin paper strips to create intricate designs. It can be challenging for beginners, but it's definitely worth the effort! The paper strips are rolled, looped, and curled to create whatever design you imagine.

The possibilities are endless! Quilling is a great way to add a personal touch to cards, scrapbooks, and other papercraft projects. And once you get used to it, you'll be hooked!

The History

Paper quilling was also popular in Europe during the 15th century. It was used as a way to decorate book covers and religious objects. In the 18th century, paper quilling became more popular and was used to decorate furniture, picture frames, and boxes.

Paper quilling fell out of popularity in the 19th century but experienced a resurgence in the 1970s. Today, paper quilling is enjoyed by people of all ages and is considered a form of art. This was originally used to decorate book covers and manuscripts.

Today, it is one of the popular DIY projects helpful in creating jewelry, artwork, and even home decor! You can use many tools to create paper quilling designs, but you can also do it without any tools. You might be wondering how to do paper quilling without tools. If you haven't tried it before, read on, and we'll show you how.

Alternative Paper Quilling Strips

If you don't have pre-cut strips of paper, you may use any paper you have on hand, including scrapbooking or origami paper. Let's say you only have a basic notebook and want to make quilling art out of it.

You can easily cut the notebook into strips by cutting its lines. You don't even have to use a ruler because you need to follow the lines already in the notebook. This will give you long strips of paper that are perfect for quilling.

You can follow the step-by-step guide in the video so that you know how to cut your notebook into strips.

Making Basic Shapes Without Tools

If you're starting with quilling, you might wonder how to make basic shapes without tools. Many people think that it's impossible! But this isn't true at all; it's just a matter of changing your process slightly and using materials that are easier to manipulate. Instead of using a needle and thread to create circles or spirals, try using your finger or a pen. To do this:

  1. Cut your papers into strips
  2. Using your finger or a pen, curl the strip into a circle.
  3. Let the roll loose itself according to the size you want.
  4. Glue the two ends together to form a ring.
  5. To make any shapes you want, repeat the steps from one to four and pinch the paper into the shape you want.

You may check out this video to see how to form shapes in action.

Now that you know how to create different shapes without complex tools we can now try from basic to more tricky paper-quilling designs. Let's get started!

Paper Quilled Flowers and Leaves

There are many paper-quilling ideas for both beginners and experts. However, we will try the easier one since we aim to do paper quilling without the complex tools required. When we say that no quilling tool is required, it doesn't mean that you will have no materials.

The only thing that differs is you won't have to use any special tools that may be expensive and hard to find. Paper quilling still requires basic tools depending on the project you will go for. Let us try paper quilling a simple flower and leaf quilling. For this paper quilling project, we will use the following:

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Gather all your tools.

paper quilling tools on the floor

Paper Quilling tools - Image by How to Raju

Before starting, you should ensure that your basic quilling tools are ready. As we have said earlier, paper quilling with no tools required doesn't mean you must be empty-handed.

So, make sure to prepare your scissors, paper, glue, and quilling comb.

This will make everything easier for you as you don't need to stop in the middle of your work. After all, you only need a few basic tools, so it won't be a hassle.

Create your paper strips

a woman holding paper strips

Creating paper strips - Image by Paper Zen - Cecelia Louie

Now that you have all your tools, it's time to create your paper strips. You can use any type of paper, but we will be using construction paper for this guide. Some people prefer a ready-made paper quilling kit, but we believe that this only limits your creativity.

It will be more fun if you make your paper strips. Cut your paper into thin strips about 0.75 inches wide and 12 inches long. If you want to make your paper quilling last longer, you can use paper reinforcement.

Check out this video to see the steps in action.

2. Creating the flower petals

paper quilled flower

Creating the Flower Petals - Image by - Azlina Abdul

We are now making petals. Now that your papers are cut into strips, follow these steps:

  1. Take one strip and hold it between your thumb and first finger.
  2. Start rolling at the end of the strip and roll it towards the center.
  3. Continue rolling until you reach the end of the paper.
  4. Make a tight roll using a toothpick (optional)
  5. Glue the end part of the strips to ensure they will not unravel. Also, don't put too much glue so it can dry faster.
  6. Add more paper strips to make the flower fuller.

To make this process easier, you can use a paper quilling comb. To use a comb, simply hold the paper strip against the teeth of the comb and start rolling. And just like what you did using your finger, continue rolling until you reach the end of the paper. Secure it by gluing or taping the paper.

If it's your first time using a paper quilling comb, you probably don't know where to start. To help you see how to use it effectively, you can check out this video.

3. Making a leaf

paper quilled leaves on a white surface

Making a Leaf - Image by House No 4321

Making a quilled paper leaf is simple and only requires a few materials. You can make a paper quilled leaf by following these steps.

  1. First, make quilling strips of green paper and wrap one end around a toothpick to form a loop.
  2. Add glue to secure the loop in place. Once the glue is dry, insert the loop into the first tooth of the comb.
  3. Continue looping around the teeth of the comb until you reach the end, then glue the end of the strip in place.
  4. Remove the leaves from the comb and pinch one end to give it a proper shape. You may also bend the pinched side slightly.
  5. Make as many leaves as you want.

We understand that quilling for the first time can be tricky, especially with small details like leaves. But since we always got you covered, we provided a video below for you to create quilled leaves perfectly.

4. Arrange the flowers and leaves on cardstock

paper quilled flower on a white cardstock

Image by Mishellka

Now that you have your flowers and leaves, start by arranging the flowers and leaves on a piece of cardstock. Once you have a design you like, begin gluing down the paper elements.

You can put the finished paper quilling project in a frame to display it.

That would be a perfect design on your walls and even on your floating shelves. This paper quilling idea is not just for home decoration but also for paper crafts.

Having trouble with the steps above? Don’t worry as we’ve got you covered! To see the full steps in action, you may check out this video

Paper Quilled Chick

paper-quilled chicks

How was your experience with creating paper-quilled flowers and leaves? Did you find it tricky? Or you found it so easy that you can make a whole bouquet. If that's the case, let's try a more complicated design without using expensive tools. Let's get started!

Let's make cute chicks. You can use this design to add some fun to your home decor. Here is what you need:

Step-by-Step Guide

For the chick body:

  1. Cut the quilling paper into strips of about 0.5 cm x 41cm. You can get a pre-cut pack of quilling paper if you prefer to avoid cutting. 
  2. When all the quilling papers are cut, glue on each strip's end and roll them around the rolling tool. You can use any glue, but we recommend using a glue stick because it's easy to apply and dries quickly.
  3. After rolling, put some glue on the other end to secure the end of the paper strip.
  4. Let the roll loose itself.
  5. Pinch the other end of the paper strip with your fingers to create the chick tail.
  6. Repeat all the steps if you are creating many chicks.
  7. For the chicks head and eyes:
  8. Using glue, attach a black paper strip to a yellow paper strip.
  9. Get your rolling tool and roll the strips. The goal is to have a black circle on top of a yellow circle to create an eye. The yellow part will be the head, while the black will be the eyes.
  10. When the goal is achieved, secure the paper roll by gluing the other end of the yellow paper.
  11. Set aside and make more until you have enough.

For the beaks and legs:

  1. Cut an orange paper strip in the middle to create a beak.
  2. Do the same when creating legs.
  3. Glue the beak into the chick's head to create the beak.
  4. Glue the legs to create feet and attach them on either side of the body.
  5. When done, get your paper backing and mount all the quilled chicks onto it. You can hang the chick mobile in your room or give it as a gift.

We know some of you need help with following written instructions. If this is the case, check out the video tutorial below:

Related: Paper Quilling Ideas

Common Mistakes When Paper Quilling for the First Time: How to Fix Them

It's very common to make mistakes when paper quilling the first time, as it's a completely new art form. But there is no need to panic! Here are some simple tips to help you improve your paper-quilling skills and avoid common pitfalls.

Too much Glue

The main cause of paper quilling mistakes is using too much glue. Too much glue will cause the paper to wrinkle and curl, making it hard to work. To avoid this problem, ensure to use a small amount of glue at a time, spreading it evenly on both surfaces before bringing them together. You can also use a toothpick or other thin implements to spread the glue evenly.

Uneven Widths

Another common mistake beginners must correct is controlling the width of their quilling paper. If you don't control the widths of your strips, they will curl in different directions, making it hard to create uniform shapes and designs.

To avoid this problem, cut the strips into equal lengths before putting them together. You can use a pair of scissors with a straight edge or a ruler to measure the length before cutting. You can also try using a piece of paper as a guide while you cut your strips.

Choosing Paper That's Too Thick 

When working with paper quilling, choosing very thick paper is tempting. This will make it easier to see your design, but it can also make it difficult to wrap the quilled strip around a needle. If you choose too thick paper, try using multiple layers instead of one large piece.

Wrinkled Backing

One of the causes of wrinkled paper backing is using too much glue. If your quilled project gets wrinkles, use less glue when attaching them to your paper frame. Also, when you use too thin paper, the backing will probably be wrinkled too. This can be frustrating, but if you use heavier paper, it will help prevent wrinkles.

Effective Tips to Have a Successful Paper Quilling Project

The usual tip for a successful quilling project is to have the right tools. It is ultimately true, but what if you only have limited tools? Can you still create beautiful paper quilling designs? The answer is yes! Here are some paper-quilling tips on how you can still successfully create a paper-quilling project without the use of tools:

  • Go for Simple Designs

Another thing to consider when creating a paper quilling project is to go for simple designs. The more complicated the design is, the more difficult it will be to achieve without proper tools. This is true if you are new to quilling or do not have access to the proper tools.

However, there are ways to get around this. One way is to look for quilling patterns specifically designed to be tool-free. These patterns will often be simpler than those that require tools, but they can still be just as beautiful. Another way to achieve a tool-free quilling design is to create your pattern.

You can break the design down into smaller, simpler shapes that can be easily achieved without tools. Either way, keeping your design simple is the key to creating a beautiful and successful paper quilling project without tools.

  • Start With Bigger Paper Strips

Starting with bigger paper strips is important because it gives you more control and makes it easier to shape the paper. It also allows you to create more complex designs without the risk of paper ripping or tearing. Also, when you start with bigger paper strips, you can create a wide variety of quilling shapes, including coils, scrolls, spirals, and loops.

In addition to that, you may also consider a thinner paper. The thicker the paper, the harder it is to curl without creasing, so using thinner paper will make it easier to get tight coils.

  • Use your Fingers Effectively

This is probably one of the most important quilling techniques to do paper quilling without tools. Working with your fingers is one of the most satisfying aspects of creating a paper quilling project without tools.

It allows you to get a better feel for the paper and helps you bond with your work in a way that using tools simply doesn't permit. In addition, working with your fingers gives you greater control, which can be essential for creating delicate designs.

And finally, there's simply something satisfying about knowing that you created something beautiful entirely with your own two hands.

  • Be Patient

Another tip to remember is to be patient. Whether you have tools, paper quilling takes time and practice to master. Don't get discouraged if your first few attempts don't look exactly like you want them to.

Instead, focus on the process and enjoy watching your paper shape under your fingers. With a little bit of time and patience, you'll create stunning paper-quilled designs.

  • Enjoy the Process

In addition to being patient, it's also best if you will enjoy the process. Paper quilling can be therapeutic and relaxing, so take your time and savor every moment.

Set your goal to create something beautiful, not finish as quickly as possible. Rushing will only result in subpar results and a lot of frustration. So, it's better to be patient, relax, and enjoy the process.

Paper Quilling FAQ

What paper should I use for paper quilling?

While you can purchase ready-made paper quilling strips, many crafters prefer to make their own. The best paper to use is lightweight cardstock. This type of paper is easy to work with and doesn't tear as easily as thinner papers. 

Plus, it's available in different colors, so you can create your design precisely. So next time you're ready to start paper quilling, be sure to reach for some lightweight cardstock. You'll be glad you did!

What is the best way to cut the paper strips?

If you're looking for the best way to cut paper strips, you have two main options: scissors or a paper cutter. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Scissors are generally more versatile, as they can be used for other purposes besides cutting paper. 

They're also usually more comfortable holding and using for extended periods. However, scissors can be more difficult to control, making it harder to get a precise cut. On the other hand, paper cutters are specifically designed for cutting paper. This means that they tend to be much sharper and easier to control than scissors. 

However, paper cutters are usually only good for cutting paper. So if you're looking for a versatile option, scissors are probably the way to go. But a paper cutter is your best bet if you want a precise cut.

Can I make complicated designs without quilling tools?

Quilling tools make it easy to create complex designs, but it's also possible to create other designs without quilling tools. For example, you can use a needle and thread to sew paper strips into different shapes.

You can also fold, twist, and curl the paper strips by hand to create other designs. The possibilities are endless, and you can even combine different techniques to create unique designs. So if you're looking to get into quilling but don't want to invest in quilling tools, don't worry - you can still create beautiful designs without them.

Is quilling easy to learn?

Quilling may look like a complicated art form, but it's quite easy to learn. You can even create a beautiful design without expensive tools. All you need is a roll of quilling paper, a quilling tool, and a little bit of patience when it comes to its process, don't worry, as it is relatively easy compared to other forms of art.

Where can I use paper quilling for?

One of the most popular uses for quilling is card making. By quilling, you can add an extra special touch to store-bought cards or create one-of-a-kind masterpieces from scratch. Additionally, you can use paper quilling for various purposes, including decoration, clothing design, and picture framing. Quilling ideas are limitless - the only limit is your imagination! 


Paper quilling doesn't have to be complicated. With the help of basic tools or even with only your fingers and a comprehensive guide, you'll be paper quilling like a pro in no time! Remember to be patient, relax, and enjoy the process for the best results.

With a little bit of time and practice, you'll create beautiful paper-quilled designs that will impress everyone. We hope that this blog post has helped you start your paper quilling without tools. Did you enjoy the quilling process? Let us know in the comments below.

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