Choose your pattern and gather your tools together. This job is made much easier if you keep your quilling tools and supplies organized.

  1. I keep my tools in a tackle box. There is also room for extra coils and shapes to be stored. When I create coils and shapes I usually make a few extra of each one just in case I make a mistake or mess up one of my shaped coils.
  2. Make sure your tools are clean and in good shape. There is nothing worse then creating a coiled shape only to find you are unable to use it because it got dirty. This is especially important if you want to use light colors.
  3. Find a good work area. Some people can quill anywhere but that is a skill you probably don’t have yet. The room should be quiet and relaxing. You should have a comfortable chair to sit in that supports both your back and your arms. A kitchen table or office desk that has been cleared of clutter, is clean and that has been covered with plastic to protect it, can be used as your quilling area. Good lighting is essential to prevent eye strain and mistakes in matching colors.
    HINT:A lamp that mimics the light the sun produces is a good investment. It will allow you to see the true colors of your quilling paper strips.
  4. Read the directions carefully before you start quilling. Make sure you understand what the directions are telling you to do and you have all the needed supplies. There is nothing worse then to be halfway through a project and find that you used a wrong technique, or you’ve run out of a needed size or color.
    HINT: If unfamiliar with a technique or shape and you can’t find the answer in the book you’ve taken the pattern from (most pattern books have a section describing the shapes used in the patterns), from this book or from other local quillers, go online to a quilling group and ask someone there to help you. Many times the names of shapes may be different from the name you know it as.
  5. Choose your color strip packages and lay them out in the order they are listed in the directions. Don’t take them out of the package yet.
    HINT: If ordering paper for a large quilling project in which you will need several packages of paper, let the vendor know this. They can often special order packages of paper from the same manufacturing run. Paper can vary slightly in color from run to run. This is unimportant if the paper is used over several quilling projects. It does however, become very important if you’re creating a design in which the papers will show variations in color and ruin the uniform look of your finished design.
  6. Examine the pattern closely. Do you like the way the colors used in the pattern look together. Do you think another color might look better? If you’re not sure there is a technique that can help you decide. Take the quilling strips (in the colors chosen by the pattern creator) and lay them on the background paper you’re going to be using. Criss-cross the papers. Are the colors pleasing to your eye? If not, try other colors of your own choosing, lying them out using this same technique. Continue to change the papers until the color combination pleases you.
    Another trick is to use an artists color wheel. This inexpensive and easy to use tool can help you choose colors that work well together. It is especially helpful if you don’t trust your own color skill.
  7. Make note of the lengths of each paper color needed. Do you have all the colors needed in the correct amounts? Make sure the chosen colors are all correct and the strips for each color are the same. Problems can be avoided if each time you use your papers, you take out the amounts needed and return the excess back to the original package (which should be labeled with the manufacturer, the code number, the width and the name of the color).
    As stated before a “sun lamp” can be a very useful tool in helping you make sure that your colors are correct. In a room lit by regular light bulbs it is very difficult to tell the difference between White and Bright White or Ivory and Soft/Light Yellow. If you don’t have a “sun lamp”, you can also take your paper outside in the sunlight. Having mismatched papers are only a problem if you didn’t store your papers correctly.
  8. After you’ve chosen your colors you’ll want to update your pattern so you don’t make any mistakes. I never mark in my books. I take a sheet of paper and create a ledger. For instance, if I’m replacing the Deep Rose color with Red, I will copy the directions replacing the word Rose with the word Red every place it appears. Do this for every color change you’re going to make. I have a friend that uses post-it notes to do this.
  9. Now you’re going to create all the proper lengths needed for each color. Using a ruler, tear your paper to the proper lengths. Do them one at a time, remembering to place the torn strips into a container marked with both color and length (this step can be skipped if you’re creating a simple design with colors that are easily distinguished from one another). HINT: Tearing paper is better then cutting it with scissors because the torn edges will not only blend better (thus creating the illusion of no seam) it will also create a more secure piece using less glue.
    If you are not going to complete the design that day, you can use baggies to keep the strips from getting mixed up. I usually use a baggie for each color and size (ie: if you’re using red in 3 lengths you’ll need 3 baggies labeled red and then the size). I find that by doing it this way I can start creating my coils all at once (something you can do while watching TV, riding in a car or waiting for your appointment at the doctors!). Because they’re labeled it’s easy to transport them, easy to use them, they stay clean and none get lost. The main advantage to this method is that after all your coils are made into shapes, you can start putting your picture together all at once.
  10. Create all your coils and shape them. Make sure you place them back into the properly labeled baggie/container.
  11. Now you’re ready to put the shapes together to form your picture.
  12. Place the pattern you’ve chosen on your design board. When using a design from a book, I usually trace the pattern and use the traced copy on my design board. This allows me to keep my book in good condition and will allow me to reuse the pattern many times. Measure a piece of wax paper that is long enough to cover your pattern and so the edges will meet when wrapped around the board. Place the sheet of wax paper on top of the pattern wrapping it around the edges and meeting on the bottom of the board. At this time I usually place tape to join the 2 edges securely. I then use T-pins to secure the pattern so it does not shift as shown. The wax paper will protect your pattern from glue, so it can be reused many times.
    HINT: It is not necessary to buy a design board. One can be created using cardboard or Styrofoam. Eventually patterns show signs of age because of the pinholes that will result as shapes are pinned into place over the pattern. Many times if you buy a vintage book or kit the pattern may be in poor shape. In either case the old pattern can be revived by taking contact paper or a full sheet label and applying it to the back of the tattered pattern. This will create a stable backing for the pattern and allow you to use it many more times. Please do not violate copyright rules and make copies of patterns (even if they do not say copyright protected or have the © symbol to give away).You are allowed to make a copy for your own use only.
  13. Now you can start putting your picture together. I usually “dry fit”my shapes (placing the shapes together without gluing them). This way if they aren’t quite right or I want to change a color or shape I can. Remember if you change your mind about a shape or color simply create a new baggie/container with the new color and size on it. Update your ledger too (this will help if you decide to create the same pattern with the same color palette.) Make sure you put the old baggie/container into a box or storage area that holds your bags of replaced colors/shapes so you don’t use it by mistake. Saving finished coils and shapes is not only cost effective but also comes in handy because chances are you’re going to use that color or shape in another project!
  14. When the “dry fitted” pattern creates the picture I want, I am ready to glue the parts together. When using glue it is better to use too little then too much. A very small drop placed on the meeting edges will secure your shapes for years.

Here are several suggestions before you start gluing. Gather your supplies. You’ll need:

  • GLUE –  There are many types of glue. We’ve found that the best glue (and it’s inexpensive too) is Elmer’s Glue All. It is a white glue that dries clear. It’s important that you try other glues and decide which glue works best for you. This can not be stressed enough. Use a very small amount of glue when joining your shaped coils. Too much glue may cause buckling or may show thus spoiling the professional look of your finished project.  If not using a glue bottle/applicator, you’ll need toothpicks or a needle to apply the glue to the shaped coil. Place your glue into a small open container (a contact lens case is excellent for this purpose) so you can dip your toothpick into it easily. Stir the glue often to keep it from forming a film or drying out. You can also put a damp sponge over it to keep the glue from drying out.
    HINT: A Contact lens case is very handy for holding your glue and the lid can be closed to keep your glue fresh.  In my opinion the best method for applying glue is to use an ultra fine glue applicator. Again use tiny drops of glue.
    HINT: A small glass with a wet sponge placed in the bottom will keep your applicator/bottle free flowing and prevent the tip from drying up. Place the bottle upside down with the tip touching the sponge.
  • TWEEZERS – You’ll find that a good pair of tweezers are excellent for placing those small pieces in the right place. I have several pairs.  Try several types to see which one works best for you. SeeFigure61 which shows the different types of tweezers. Tweezers can be used to hold your shaped coil while you put a few drops of glue on the edges you’re gluing together without damaging it. Tweezers are useful to pull the center to your coils edge when creating concentric coils.
  • PINS – T-Pins or regular pins will help hold your pieces together while the glue dries. The pins will also allow you to put the project aside and finish it later should something come up (something unimportant like preparing dinner LOL). I use several different T-pin sizes.
  • WORK SURFACE – As discussed before it is very important that you have a place you can put your pattern together and then glue it without someone knocking your work on the floor or bumping it. More important then the fact your project may be ruined is the chance of injury. I can tell you from experience that having a needle jammed into your finger or other body part is not enjoyable and can create a health hazard. Nothing spoils your day like having to go to the ER or doctor to get a tetanus shot.

As you glue each piece together make sure you allow adequate time for the glue to dry. I usually glue small groups of pieces together before I glue the entire shape. As each group of shapes is glued make sure to secure it by placing a pin inside the shape. You’ll find that the glued shapes are very sturdy. After the pieces are glued together you’ll want to place the finished shape on a background. You’ll find that once the projectis very flexible and can be manipulated into creating a 3D shape! Pegs canbe used to create lift in various areas of the design.

Now you’re ready to glue again. Remember less glue is more. To secure the design to the background I usually lift an edge, apply a tiny drop of glue, set it down lightly, repeating this procedure until the entire piece is secure. Do not use pins to secure the design to the background because the pin will create holes that will show, ruining your project. After the glue dries and the background can be lifted safely, you’ll want to finish your piece by framing it or placing it in your scrapbook or on a card.

You can also spray the finished piece with acrylic spray to protect it and prevent aging. Many times I want the item to gain the soft yellowing often associated with aging.

This is not the only method you can use. Some people prefer to tear a strip to the proper length, create the correct sized coil, shape it and pin it in place on the pattern, then they move onto the 2nd coil and repeat the action. After the piece is completed they will glue it. Others glue the shapes together as they finish them. This is not a good method in my opinion because there is no easy way to correct a mistake or change something that does not please you.

I find that the method I use is faster and more efficient for me but may not work for you. You may even use a method used by no one else and that’s ok too. Each person must decide which method works best for them as we are all individuals and this is one of the areas in which there is no “RIGHT” method.

Now you’re ready to create your 1st design.

Copyright © Gael and Charlotte Stubbs, “Quill-ability, Quilling despite Disability. A Quilling book for Quillers of all ages and abilities ©2005 All rights reserved

Gene and Charli are both experienced quillers who have a small online store named after their “Too Bad Dogs”. Both are dedicated to preserving vintage quilling items which are on display at their online store. Please feel free to visit the Vintage Quilling Gallery to view these wonderful items.

Gene, a skilled machinist and talented woodworker learned to quill so he could develop adaptive tools after Charli was injured and became disabled. Later, after requests for the tools by others, they decided to market the adaptive tools so others could again enjoy their hobbies. Gene continues to develop adaptive tools on his own. Requests for adaptive tools also come from a people disabled by injury or age who want to again pursue their craft.

Both live on a small ranch on the Western Slope of Colorado with their 3 dogs, their 4 cats, 2 tanks of fish and numerous wildlife who all know Charli is a soft touch. Gene already had 2 wonderful sons when he and Charli married. Both Tim and Matt are now grown and successful. Laura joined the family when she married Matt a few years ago.

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