DIY Stacked Quilling Form Tutorial

Posted by littlecircles on August 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM

When I began the craft of Quilling, I didn't know that quilling was even a thing.  That is to say, I did not know such an art even existed, only that the little swirls of paper were brilliant and that my mind could not stop creating fabulous combinations of shapes and designs that I would endlessly put together.  There were so many designs swirling around in there and I was feverish to get them manifested into the real world.  I cut paper into strips and used objects around the house to turn the images in my head into reality.  I eventually realized that I did not in fact 'invent' this craft and that in actuality it has been a celebrated pastime for a few hundred years.  I was surprised by this realization while visiting a large craft chain in a nearby city that had a book displayed and a small selection of paper and quilling tools for sale.  I promptly bought all three and took them home.  While I did find some useful information in the book, I had no interest in the projects it contained.  They did not much resemble the type of work I had been doing.  I began to search the web for more information now that I knew what to call my new obsession.

What I did not find.

I found almost nothing.  The year was 2008 and my searching produced very little. 'How to quill, Learn quilling, quilling for dummies, etc. - all nada.  I found a lot of passionate enthusiasts and advocates for the craft, but very little instruction or pattern that I had any interest in.  I did however find a few sources for pre cut paper.  When the first box arrived at my doorstep, my mind went dizzy with the possibilities.  I set aside the book (actually I believe I even gifted it away) and ended my internet quest.  I went it alone, figuring that with enough trial and error, I would eventually figure out this paper twirling thing.  For me, this was the best way to learn.  One idea would lead to another and then something else would pop in.  It was, and continues to be an exciting and creative experience.

What nada did for me.

Since I had no idea what to do nor what not to do, I played a lot.  I used anything and everything I could try.  I did everything by eye alone and immediately began designing my own projects.  I used objects from around the house and began to explore color and discover new techniques.  I had my husband make me the things I envisioned using to enhance my creations.  The first thing, besides the paper and a quilling tool, that became an essential in my supplies box were forms.  Cylindrical objects to stretch my paper around to create hoops of various sizes.  I saved all sorts of pill bottles and the like.  I had a large rolling pin that gave me the size I favored in my larger earrings, but was an absolute bitch to use. The tube my crazy glue came in became one of my favorite (and still is) quilling forms, and while I found that a sharpie works, it is not ideal due to it's length.  I had my husband Troy cut me dowels in various widths and lengths until I found what worked best for me.  I still use the first set he made me.  As I began to design jewelry in a serious way, I painted the ends of each form a different color so I could easily identify the difference in size and record my patterns in order to duplicate it.  This worked for a couple of years, but as I continued to make, I continued to grow.  I needed more sizing options than were available at my local hardware store.  

The Little Circles Stacked Quilling Form*.

Out of need, the stacked quilling form was designed and made out of my very favorite material.  It has been such a help to me, not only in my work with paper and design, but it has also allowed me to become more mobile with my craft.  I always envied the days in which I could take my knitting onto a plane and purl away the hours.  The amount of large pill bottles and forms made this too annoying to pursue.  The stacked quilling form changed that for me.  I love it so much that I wanted to share it with you too.  Not only do I hope it makes your tool kit a little less bulky, but I am also hoping that with a new tool at your disposal, you may be inspired to dream up some new and exciting projects.  It inspired me.  Today, I record all of my patterns using this tool.  And now that you can all have one too, I can share more of my designs with you here on this website and feel confident that you can easily reproduce them in exact measure if you so desire.  

Let's get to it.

This tool is extremely easy to make albeit a bit time consuming.  It measures about five inches in length and consists of 10 different sized forms (in half inch increments) stacked upon each other.  You can of course make one in whatever sizes (circumference) you wish, but for the purposes of this site, all of my designs that I share with you in the future will be posted using this tool and these measurements for the most part.


Each tier of the stack consists of 2 discs of 1/4" paper strips glued together.  This is what I had on hand.  If you are ordering paper especially for this project, I would suggest ordering 1/2" paper - it would make half the work.  Likewise you could make four discs in 1/8" paper if you have that in your stash in large quantities.  As for the amounts, that also depends.  In the example provided above, I made each tier a different color.  I used paper from both Lake City Crafts and Quilled Creations.  The thickness varies quite a bit from color to color and the lengths vary between companies.  The first form I made was just using a bunch of scraps, but it wasn't pretty.  Functional though.  If you are going to make a pretty one, the largest tier will not take more than one package.

You will also need the following:

A slotted quilling tool


A ruler

Sealant (I used clear nail polish)

Scotch tape

A needle or pin

Let's begin.

You will need a way to measure the discs.  There are ten altogether measuring from 1/2" in diameter at the top to 5" at the base.  If you have a template board or circle sizer in the appropriate measurements, you could use it.  I don't, so I didn't.  Instead, I used a ruler and measured out 1/2 inch spaces along a 5" scrap 1/4" strip as shown below.

Start to Roll (and roll, and roll and roll).

I started with the base because I like to get the tedious stuff out of the way.  All you need to do is create large closed coils to stack together using your strips and a quilling tool.  If you do not know how to make one, you can learn to do so HERE.  Using the scrap piece of paper, keep checking the diameter until you reach the 5" mark exactly.  As you roll, pull the paper extremely tightly to make the coil as tight as possible.  I used the tool about half way through each coil until I did not feel I could wind it tight enough any longer.  I then removed it carefully from the tool and round the remainder by hand - this allowed me to stretch the paper very tightly.

Make 2.

It is important to make these the exact same size for a smooth finish.  Keep checking the second disc against the first as you go along to ensure a great fit.


Once you have two discs of exactly the same size, you are ready to glue them together.  If you used 1/2" paper, you can obviously ignore this step.  Spread the glue in whatever fashion you like, but stay away from the hole in the center and the outer edges.

Press the two discs together very firmly.  Press your fingers around the side to make sure the edges fit together perfectly.

Optional hardening.

Using a sealer that will soak into the coils before gluing them together is an option you can consider.  I do not think it is necessary if you were able to roll the coils extremely tightly.  If you do decide to harden the interior of the coils, use a sealer that is very thin.  It needs to soak between the layers and not remain on the surface.  Be sure that all coils have completely dried 100 % prior to gluing them together.

As you progress.

Once done with the base, you will need to make the remaining 9 tiers in the exact same manner as stated and shown above.  As you glue each tier on top of another, use the pin to ensure you are centering them correctly.  Is this essential? Nope, but it makes it look pretty.  I like pretty.

Finish it up. 

Once all ten tiers are in place and the glue is completely dried, I suggest sealing the outside.  You can mark the sizes of each tier with a sharpie if you like before doing so.  I used two coats of clear nail polish.  This will help keep the paper clean as you use it over and over again in your future projects.  It also makes it shiny... thus pretty.... and as I stated before, I like pretty.  Once the sealer is dry, I like to wrap each coil with  clear scotch tape.  This allows the paper to slide from the form very easily when you use it. 

A word.

This tool is extremely useful in a lot of quilling projects.  Truth be told, I still use my dowels, pill bottles and super glue containers, but this is my go to guy when I am on the road (often), demonstrating at festival and shows (even more often), and quilling at the beach (damn near every day since I live on a beautiful tropical island).  I hope that you take the time to make one and try it out for yourself.  If you find it as useful as I do, please feel free to leave me a comment here and share the link to this tutorial on your own site.  The more we help each other develop easier and innovative ideas in quilling, the more people will be inspired to take up this amazing craft.  I appreciate your support!

In need of a project to put this tool to use?

Try the Classy Chassis Necklace

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Happy Rolling!

*Copyright Erin Curet 2013. All rights reserved.

Categories: Tutorial, Blog, Article

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Reply Ann Martin
9:49 AM on August 20, 2013 
What a good idea, Erin. I'm often hunting around for something to serve as a coil size tool. I find something that works, and then promptly forget what it was I used. The next time the process starts all over again! Your tool would take away the guesswork.
Reply littlecircles
1:05 AM on August 22, 2013 
Exactly Ann! It has been a real relief to me when I am recording my designs for others to use. It is pretty ridiculous to ask people to go and find a superglue tube in order to make a pair of earrings :) Let me know if you make one and how you like using it!
Reply Kate Rothacker
12:24 AM on September 5, 2013 
Erin, this is a great site with so much helpful information! Thank you!! I think this tool will be a great help--but I have one question. You give the dimensions as 1/2 inch diameter to 5 inches, but the largest one does not look like 5" across. Is it supposed to say 5" CIRCUMFERENCE (the measure of around the circle)? And if so, is the smallest one supposed to be 1/2 " across, or around?
Reply Linda w
5:55 PM on September 6, 2013 
What a fabulous idea. Thank you so much for taking the time and showing everyone how to create one of their own. I am definitely going to make myself one.
Reply Lija Sony
5:08 AM on September 7, 2013 
Kate Rothacker says...
Erin, this is a great site with so much helpful information! Thank you!! I think this tool will be a great help--but I have one question. You give the dimensions as 1/2 inch diameter to 5 inches, but the largest one does not look like 5" across. Is it supposed to say 5" CIRCUMFERENCE (the measure of around the circle)? And if so, is the smallest one supposed to be 1/2 " across, or around?

I too was thinking of the same. I think she measured as circumference and wrote as diameter. I tried making with "diameter" and then changed to circumference.

Reply Honey's Quilling
11:30 AM on September 8, 2013 
Wow, what a fabulous idea! I, too, have a collection of containers that I use for this, especially for my jewelry designs. How easy is it to slide the made coil off of the tool? I suppose it depends on what type of sealant was used?
Reply Mahalakshmi
9:45 AM on October 1, 2013 
I am a beginner in quilling,and have done a few projects.Though it is not up to the mark,I keep trying.I am now a member of Quilling cafe and from there I jumped into your site.The Upsie daisy tutorial lured me into knowing about the tool you used and ....WOW! is so thoughtful of you to make one and also share is an excellent innovation and I am going to make one for me now...Thank you so much for sharing this .... Hugs....Mahalakshmi
Reply Opal
8:34 PM on October 21, 2013 to quilling and love it. I have been using the slotted tool and it's ok but I saw your tool and started making one for myself but now not sure how it will be used. Maybe I am too used to the slotted. How do you get your CENTERS tight once you have them rolled around the tool? And so to take them off the tool I would need to push them to the top to remove. Do you loose your conformity for your circle in doing this? Thank you very much for your tips. I know this will get easier, I need to cut my nails. LOL. I have subscribed to your letter and looking forward to them. Opal
Reply jana
7:16 PM on October 22, 2013 
I am new to quilling and already addicted. Came upon your site and I'm totally in love with it and looking forward to receiving your e-mails. Thank you so much. I am looking forward to making this . Thanks for being here :)
Reply joan
10:15 PM on October 23, 2013 
good idea, i'm trying different types of paper crafting. I made your tool using 1/2" strips, I cut myself, then as an added security I used toothpicks between each disk. I stumble on your sight through tube
Reply joan
10:18 PM on October 23, 2013 
sorry, I meant to type youtube. thanks
Reply Helam Mang Kipgen
9:56 AM on November 1, 2013 
Montessori Cylinder Blocks anyone?
Reply sreedevi
7:04 AM on February 4, 2014 
Its really superb. You explained very clearly so that everyone finds very easy to understand. Thanks a lot.
Reply Steph
2:52 AM on February 20, 2014 
Hi Erin ( my best ever friend's name is Erin ) . May I ask a question. When you are rolling
( and rolling and rolling ) the bottom tier of the quilling form, will it matter if the shape isn't an actual circle. As I have rolled more by had as the form got larger, and as tightly as I could, it squished and squashed and has morphed into not quite a perfectly round circle. I'm guessing that it's just in the nature of paper manipulation and the when I FINALLY finish the bottom tier ( and the others ) it will contract and right itself when I seal it with nail polish. Am I on the right track or way off. If I am off can you please offer me some advise?
Buy the way ... LOVE YOUR WORK!. I only hope that I will be as successful as you in creating such gorgeous art.
Reply Viola Saldanha
6:17 AM on May 4, 2014 
I just can not get over your generosity to share your skill and knowledge. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Reply Darla Noetzelmann
10:50 PM on May 15, 2014 
you are so awesome thank you for sharing.
Reply sheela
4:40 PM on June 29, 2014 
really thankful for this wonderful tutorial.
Reply MaryAnne
8:23 PM on September 18, 2014 
This is a great idea but would still truly love to have it as a wooden dowel, so it will last forever. The largest dowel I ordered is wonderful, but still not big enough. Am I annoying or what? LOL Love your work, Erin.
Reply Meghna
1:21 PM on November 4, 2014 
Heyyy I would like to know if you are also selling the forms or just its supplies? I would like to buy all your forms and tools including the dowels. Please assist....
Reply umakrishnan
5:04 AM on January 31, 2016 
very nice