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Don't have quilling supplies? Use items from around the house!

Are you ready to start paper quilling, but you don't have supplies yet?

Do supplies seem complicated?

Are you hesitant to buy supplies before trying it out first to see if you even enjoy this craft?

I've got you covered!

I often hear that people feel overwhelmed because the supplies for quilling seem complicated. I believe the supplies are really very simple. So I'm here to help pull back the curtain and show you how you can use very simple supplies that you likely have around the house, if you're not yet ready to buy.

Really all you need to get started is paper, something to help you roll it, and glue! And something to glue it onto, like card stock or blank cards.

I used to teach students in an after school program how quill with toothpicks and paper that's cut into strips. If we could do it that simply, you can too!

Check out the video, or read below to find out how you can replace 4 of the most common quilling supplies.


Traditional paper quilling strips come in packs-- usually 3 mm in width, though you can also find packs in 3/ 5/ 7/ 10 mm. Cutting your own strips is fun because you can play with different widths and cut just what you need for each project.

I recommend cutting strips into 1/2 or 1/4 inch strips if you're cutting by hand. (It will just be way too difficult to be precise with 3 mm strips cut by hand!)

You can also cut with a Cricut or Cameo if you have one. (I'm working on another blog post for this coming soon! If you're an expert with those though, simply create lines spaced 1/4" or 1/2" apart.)

I suggest Neenah Astrobrights paper. It comes in a variety of fun colors, and the weight of the paper makes quilling easy.

To cut paper strips by hand:

  1. Using a ruler, make light marks with a pencil along the short side of the paper, at 1/4" or 1/2" increments. Repeat on the other short side.

  2. If you have a blade or rotary cutter, you can line up your ruler along the hash marks and cut directly.

  3. Otherwise, connect the lines lightly with your pencil, then cut with scissors.


The 2 basic quilling tools are:

- The slotted tool, which has a slot to slide the paper into, which helps grip it, and

- The needle tool, which is a solid metal piece that looks like a needle.

A slotted tool is great for beginners because it helps grip the paper, but the needle tool has a lot more versatility for different paper widths and more. It's my personal favorite.

You'll notice a toothpick looks like the needle tool! It will achieve the same results if you don't have quilling tools.

You want to get round toothpicks, not square, so that you have a nice round center.

How to use a toothpick to quill

  1. Start by running the paper strip between your finger and the toothpick. This just helps soften the paper and get it curling, which makes it roll more smoothly.

  2. Start at the very end of the paper strip and start rolling it around the toothpick.

  3. Roll the whole thing on your toothpick, or I often find that it's easier to leave the toothpick behind and roll it by hand.

  4. Close your coil with a little glue on the end seam.

Circle Sizing Board

A circle sizer is a great tool for creating coils that are all the same size. If you don't have one though, you can use a ruler to measure the diameter of your coils, and use one coil as your guide to create others that are the same size.

The numbers on the board note how many millimeters in diameter the circle is. So the 15 on the board is 15 mm (or 1.5 cm) across, the 20 is 20 mm (or 2 cm), etc.

How to use a ruler instead of a circle sizing board

  1. Roll a coil and release it onto the centimeter side of a ruler.

  2. If you're trying to get a certain size, loosen and re-roll as needed until it's about that size. (For example, if you're trying to get a size 15, release your coil until it's 1.5 cm or 15 mm.) Glue down the seam.

  3. Now use this one as your guide for other coils. As you roll more strips, release those on top of the one you've already glued down. Loosen and re-roll as needed, holding it against the first coil to make sure they're the same size.

Glue Application

Less is more with glue when it comes to quilling! I do a few things will my glue to make it easier to apply, but here are some even more simple ways to get the same results.

Needle-tip bottle

I keep my glue in a needle-tip bottle, which helps control how much glue I'm applying (again, less is more!) If you don't have one, just put some glue on a paper plate and use your needle tool or a toothpick to apply it to your shapes. (Designate different toothpicks for glue and for rolling so that you don't get glue on the toothpicks you're rolling with!)

Flat surface for glue

How do you glue your shapes onto your backing? You simply spread glue onto a surface, then dip each piece flat into the glue.

I use a plastic sheet, which is great because the glue peels off when it's dry, and I can reuse it. A paper plate works great as a substitute! I've even used a plastic lid-- really any flat surface that you don't mind getting glue on will work!

Spreading your glue thin

Did I mention that less is more? You need to spread your glue super thin!

I use a craft squeegee to spread my glue on my plastic surface, but great substitutes are an old credit card, or even the side of your ruler.

I hope this helps! If you have any additional questions, please drop a comment and I'll be happy to help!

And if you're ready to go ahead and buy quilling supplies, see this blog post with specific recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through these links.

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