Quilling an Easy Letter Monogram

One question I'm commonly asked is how to make a quilled monogram. When someone is new to quilling, it is daunting to make such a large customized project, especially when they want it to be done in an afternoon.

Rather than tackling how to outline a letter (an advanced technique I plan to discuss later), I want to show a quick and easy way to make a monogram for room d├ęcor. This letter M has been covered by 3 types of quilled dots/circles. You can certainly minimize the design with a single type, but I wanted to show various ways of making circles out of quilling strips.

Before cutting my materials, I gather them to ensure they go well together. Here's what I used:
  • Green patterned paper from DCWV Doodlin' Around Stack
  • Metallic bronze card stock from Stardream
  • Orange paper from Daiso (a local dollar store with Japanese items)
  • Light blue quilling strips
  • Ikea 9x9 picture frame

Choose any font you wish, type your letter at about 4.25" high, and print it out. The font shown here is TeX Gyre Bonum, Bold, with a size of 450 pt. Staple it on top of your card stock to prevent the papers from shifting as you cut.

Tight Coil
To make these solid dots, I used 3.5" long strips and started my needle tool partway down from the top edge. Rubbing my fingers as if I'm removing dried glue, I roll the paper up and around the tool. If the paper doesn't catch around your needle, moisten your fingertip. After applying glue to seal the end, push the coil off your tool. At this stage, I can see my edges are not perfectly aligned, so I place the coil on my work surface and use a flat item to squish the coils completely flush. You will see a solid coil on top, while the bottom has a tiny hole.

Loose Coil
To make the Loose Coils, I curled a 3.5" strip around my tool and released it within an 8 mm (about .25") diameter circle template. I place adhesive foam beneath my circle template to raise the template about midway up the paper strip, keeping it more easily fenced in.

When I swipe up a dab of glue with my needle tool, it's usually facing one direction. See how there is a clean area on the opposite side? Look at the previous photo again. You'll see I use this clean section to push my coils out of the way before dabbing my glue on the end. I usually have tissues nearby to clean off my tool each time. Toothpicks could certainly be used instead of gunking up your tool, but I prefer not interrupting my flow by picking and putting down my tools.

To make the large circles, I found using the circle template harder than wrapping around a solid object, in this case, a Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive bottle. The circle on the left is just a tad out of shape. Perhaps a lipstick tube would work too – anything with a plastic surface allows me to slip the finished ring off more easily.

To start, I scraped a 5" length strip. The top left in the photo above shows what a scraped coil looks like. I ended up with a circumference of about 16mm or .5". The size does not have to be exact, just whatever you have around that makes a larger circle.

Wrap the coil around your object to eyeball a general length.

You don't want glue on the innermost ring - just the length after that. I used a UHU glue stick to smear the adhesive rather than liquid glue.

Wrap the strip around your object, trying to keep the edges aligned.

While the glue is still moist, slip the ring off and use either your fingers or a flat object to gently press the rings flush. Actually, I rarely use my fingers, but each time I took a photo with a flat item, it covered up the quilling, so bear with me! Flush edges always makes your work look neater.

Then I slip the ring back on the glue bottle to allow the glue to fully dry, so I can achieve a perfectly round ring. 

I drew, then cut a giraffe and had intended to use matching bronze coils on top, but found them too distracting from the monogram. Instead I used 1/8" and 1/4" hole punches to punch matching bronze dots. I have used my punches for years and noticed the edges are not as clean as I'd like. To solve this, I put my paper in between two sheets of scrap card stock. Being sandwiched makes my bronze paper cut so much more cleanly.

After gluing the dots on my giraffe, I flipped it over and placed adhesive foam squares on the back. I enjoy the subtle shadows cast when an item is lifted off the page.

Make as many dots and circles as you need, and place them on your letter. To keep things random, I cut one of the large rings apart and glued the two sections in different parts of the letter.


Before gluing everything down, I suggest getting up from your chair and taking a break. Give it a day if you can. When you come back, you may see a different way of laying out the elements. I find myself subconsciously placing elements in the middle, so I keep playing with it until it looks random enough.

I plan to make this tutorial into a free downloadable PDF so it's easy to print and have by your craft table. The strips will all be pre-measured for you, as all my quilling patterns are. The giraffe will also be included in two ways - both as a pattern to cut out on your chosen paper and as a colored printable to save time. The eyes and antlers can get a bit tricky to cut, but you can replace it with any animal you prefer.

When the PDF tutorial is ready, I'll come back here and update this post. If you'd like to be notified immediately (or if you'd like to receive news this way), simply join my newsletter.

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I've now completed the PDF file with measurements, instructions, photos, and giraffe template. I hope you'll leave a comment on my blog if it helped you make a customized project for your loved one!

3D Soccer Ball Birthday Card

My soccer-loving nephew has turned 12 and I thought it would be fun to make a card he could get a "kick" out of. He and his brother used to enjoy receiving extra pieces to make the exact card I made. Alas, they're growing up and it's getting harder to impress them. Luckily my readers are a more forgiving audience!

The soccer ball is made of a single piece of white cardstock that gets glued together. Then the black pieces are added afterwards. I added a springing coil of quilled paper to represent a bounce, and a torn green sheet for grass.

To assemble the ball follow the directions – the numbers match the image below:
1) fold along the dotted line and glue the grey triangle under the white pentagon; repeat 4 times.
2) fold the grey tab under the same white pentagon and glue; repeat 4 more times.
3) fold these remaining gray tabs over and glue to your card

The PDF version will have the black areas printed on the ball, so it's easier for hand assembly. The SVG version will have a perforated white outline with the black in separate pieces. These files are for personal use only. I'd love to hear if you gave it a try!

Download Soccer Ball PDF and SVG

DIY Quilling Strips Tutorial with Free Files

I've talked about cutting my own quilling paper because I prefer a slightly heavier weight than standard quilling strips. Seeing Honey Moser's blog post and a reader's question on Jin's Craftsy post prompted me to make these files. I use a Silhouette SD to cut mine, and whether you want to cut your own by hand or by machine, I hope my files may be of help to you.

There are 4 pages in the "DIY Quilling Strips.pdf" file, containing varying widths of 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch markings on top and bottom. You'll see the measurement listed along the top left. Ensure your option for "Page Scaling" is set to "None" when printing, so it comes out at actual size.

Option 1
You can certainly print these markings right on top of your sheets of 8.5x11 inch paper, keeping a margin all around so it's tangle-free during storage after cutting. However, I know some people who are aghast at any paper wastage, and if you are one, keep reading.

Option 2
Another way to cut your strips and use every inch of it is to print the file and slice off the markings.

Place the paper you'd like to cut on your cutting surface. I've taken metallic envelopes apart to use for quilling strips in this way. Align the paper edge with the first marking, then tape the markings in place above and below - ensure they are parallel or else your cutting will be off. Align your ruler to the markings and start cutting away. You can re-use this method many times over.

For those who have a digital die cutter, I have compressed 4 SVG files or DXF files (for Silhouette Studio) with varying widths. They all contain a border because otherwise I find my blade may catch on the edge of the paper. The files are readily changeable for those who have a different size paper.

If anyone uses these files and found it helpful, I'd love to hear about it!

Quilled Ginkgo Biloba Cards and Letraset StudioTac Dry Adhesive

I've quilled the quietly serene ginkgo biloba leaves before here, here, and here in the past, but this new version is similar to the one in my book, Pretty Quilled Cards.

These two cards are ones that I made with the leaves I practiced on, but what I really wanted to show you was the subtly patterned paper beneath the leaves.

Sometimes during pre-press or printing, some highlights get blown out, which means no definition – as in the case of the ginkgo project. So I thought I'd show it here. Isn't it the perfect backdrop?

I got it at Daiso, my fave $2 store. They're meant for blotting tempura, but they are just gorgeous for an Asian feel without overpowering the card. It's a tad see-through, so I'd suggest using double-sided tape, spray adhesive, or Letraset Studio Tac/LetraTac to adhere to your card rather than glue.

I've used this dry adhesive for many years and still have the packaging from the first pad I got in college.
It's kind of like the Xyron, but low tech. Peel away the wax layer to expose some white dots. Place your item on top and press against the dots. Your item is now a sticker. I have found it's quite removable within the first day or two and the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to remove.

Here's a close up of the white dots. Hope that helps your project!

Quilling Tutorial: Outlined Flowers

I'm so excited to show you something completely new!

I have often admired simple line drawings of flowers and wished I could express it with quilling. Yes, I know it's ironic that I didn't have the patience to measure each strip to outline every petal since I just quilled my challenging pink poppy. So it's with great pleasure to tell you a bolt of lightning hit me with this easy-peasy-quicky idea!

Notice the random size of petals? See how the points are not always centered? I love that because I'm innately anal about my precision and this forces me to be looser, more natural, and less controlled.

I'd like to ask you to take a moment and think how I may have done this before having you scroll down to find the answer. Again, I'm LA-A-AZY! So how did I do this flower gift tag in less than 10 minutes?

Thought of some ideas? OK, scroll down to read the answer.

I am going to call this technique "Cut-Coil" because that's all I did. After pinching a traditional teardrop shape (left unglued), I cut the bottom and gently pried open the petals. I used 4 random lengths of scrap pink strips and cherry picked whatever petals seemed to fit best.

I placed the inner coil in the middle, then radiated the petals all around it, building the blossom as I went. Take care to keep the point visually aligned with the center of the flower when you are placing it down. Look at the petal pointing left. See how one side is longer than the other? I deliberately place it so it appears to be an overlapping petal, just as it is in nature. I also opened some medium-sized petals and placing them in the outer rings to make it seem more full.

These two flowers were quickly thrown together, but I'm looking forward to seeing what else can be done with it. Please let me know if you experiment with it as well!

On a side note, I apologize for my watermarked name everywhere, but my name has been removed from my photos and used without my permission for selling kits and services. I am now doing it in a way that's harder for them to remove by blending the shadow into the photo, not just typing my name on top. Does anyone know of a better way to protect your work? I'd really love to know.

Quilled Poppy in Progress (6) and DIY Pollen

It's finally done! My largest project to date at about 11"x11".  I'm struggling a bit with the photography because I can't seem to make the color strips stand out as much when I shoot straight down. To achieve the photo above, I shot a bit from the bottom, and tweaked the perspective within Photoshop. This ends up showing a bit more of the strip from the side. Anyway, on to the crowning glory - the stamens and pollen.

I drew a circle of stamens and cut 3 slightly varying sizes. I did this because anything drawn in a repetitive pattern looks very mechanical. Stacking the stamens directly above one another just looks too "perfect", and not as natural.

So I cut one of the circles into 3 parts to deliberately offset the stamen lines. Next I borrowed my cheese grater and grated a rolled up piece of matching yellow paper and proceeded to grind away. UHU glue stick was smeared on just the tips, then dipped into the "pollen".

If you'd like to see this DIY flocking technique on another flower, click here.

Here's a nice close up for you to see.

Each stamen was bent in two places. The cut stamen-circle was sandwiched to hide the cut lines.

To make the middle crown, I cut a piece of radiating lines, then curled them all inward and nestled it within the stamens.

Here's a side shot to see it all together, close up.

So to recap this series:
My inspiration was a pink poppy photo
Stage 1) Tracing and outlining
Stage 2) Trimming the ends
Stage 3) Gluing tips
Stage 4) New glue love discovery
Stage 5) Custom cut paper

Thanks to all who've been commenting and cheering me on. I've had a great time learning along with you!