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8 Quick Tips on Using Stencils for Paper Quilling

by stencilmonkey

Who says stencils have to be only for painting? You could use them with 3D mediums too. For one, paper is a great way to express yourself because it creates wonderful textures. It’s also easy to combine other artistic techniques with quilling, so you can use stencil-painted borders or even decorate the surface with buttons, sequins, and more.

Stencils can be used in many ways for quilling projects. The best way is to transfer the design onto a rough sheet. You can also place a sheet of tracing paper over it and use pins to cover the outline, which serves as pointers to curl the strips accordingly. Some other tips include using stencils to add base layer paint, and much more!

What is quilling?

Paper quilling is a type of art that makes use of paper strips to create bold and beautiful illustrations. So you take the strips and twist and turn them into various shapes. Then you bring them together and glue them onto a surface to create a story, a subject, an object whatever you like!

So you can use colorful paper strips. You can also experiment with various subjects. For example, you could make an animal or even hand-lettered quotes – and stencils can help you work faster and better.

Here are some tips for you to use stencils for paper quilling. We’ve also put together some extra esthetic tricks, so try those out too!

1 Trace the outer shape of the stencil first

The most basic step is to precisely outline the shape of the stencil. Take a rough scrap or piece of cardboard to get the design in hard copy in front of you.

Simply place the stencil and hold it down firmly to avoid it from budging. Since your main project is going to be quilling, the base you use doesn’t have to be the final surface.

2 Protect the base using tracing paper or wax paper

Quilling can get messy. So after tracing, your next step should be to put wax paper or tracing paper over it. Use some pins or paper tape to attach the edges of this sheet to the base beneath.

You’ll be able to see through the tracing paper easily. Next, grab a pencil (using a pen might tear the page). Keep the pressure light as you highlight the design once again on the tracing paper. You can skip this step if you feel that the design on the base is visible enough.

Grab some pins and put them around the outline of the design. Use them as guiding points for curling the paper strips.

3 Use simple stencils to make your quilled strips (optional)

The trick to amazing quilling is to keep the shapes simple. The best designs are a series of plain circles, rectangles, squares, and other such shapes. This technique is best for highly detailed quilling projects.

These templates serve as basic shapes for creating quills. You can then join each of them together using paper glue or super glue.

4 Use the stencil to paint your design onto the surface

You can do selective quilling too. By that, we mean that you can paint the stenciled design over the final surface before attaching the quilled paper strips onto it.

So you would need to copy the design onto the wooden plaque, cardboard, or whatever you choose for your permanent surface. Then, paint the letters first and proceed to cover them with quilled paper strips. That way, you’ll have a bit of the paint showing from underneath which will add more depth and interest to your quilling project.

5 Choose the height and width of the paper according to the cut of the stencil

The size of the paper strips depends on how big or small the holes in your stencil are. So if you have a stencil with very small patterns or writing, you would need to make sure that your quilling strips are extremely narrow.

But what if you have a big stencil? In that case, you can keep a variety of wide and narrow strips. You can use the wider ones for the outer edges of the stencil design, whereas the narrower ones can be used to fill in the hollow spaces within. Again, it’s totally up to you, detailed designs always have thin strips.

6 Use tweezers for handling the shape

Stencils will often make use of narrow paper strips. Handling such width is very difficult with the fingertips. So you should get tweezers to hold on to each strip better and curl it. You can also use the backside of a smooth and well-rounded pencil to create flawless twirls.

7 Create quilled borders

How about adding more interest to your quilling project? You can use long stencils to create borders to add around your final quilling project piece. Again, you can even paint these if you don’t want to add quilled strips. You’ll end up with a fascinating mixed media art project!

8 Use a stencil brush to add more texture

You can also use a stencil brush over the quilled paper strips that you’ve stuck to the wall. Rub dry acrylic paint onto the bristles and brush it over the quilling strips that you’ve stuck in place. However, you would need to be careful because going too fast or applying too much pressure can damage the quilling strips.


All in all, paper quilling and stencils go great together for creating unique projects. You can copy the outline onto tracing paper or a rough sheet. After that, you place pins on various points and use them to curl your paper strips.

Remember that the size of your strips depends on the depth and width of the stencil. You can always have more texture and variety by using paints as well. If you’re looking for stencils for quilling, you’ve come to the right place. Feel free to pick one from our huge collection at Stencil Monkey.

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