Paper quilling is so easy for beginners with our step-by-step tutorial. If you’ve never tried paper quilling before, this is the perfect beginner papercraft project to give it a go. It looks so impressive but the technique is actually super simple. All you need is some special quilling paper and a quilling slotted tool to get started on this autumn leaf craft.

Love this project? Have a go at creating these paper quilling Christmas or ice cream cards next. Or why not make these other 3D style leaf cards instead?

You will need:

  • 5mm wide quilling paper strips in yellow, orange and red
  • Quilling slotted tool
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Glue
  • Small dish for glue
  • Pins
  • Cocktail stick
  • Foam or cork mat
  • Masking tape
  • Autumn coloured ink pads
  • Box frame
  • Paper quilling leaf template – Download PDF

Paper quilling instructions:


1. Firstly, slide one end of the quilling paper into the slot of the quilling tool and roll it around to create an open coil.

Slot the quilling paper into the tool

2. To make it into a closed coil, dab a little glue at the end of the paper strip and stick it in place so the coil cannot unwind.

Closed coil with some glue

3. Use your fingers to press the closed coils into any shape you want and position them on the leaf template. Use a mixture of yellow and orange papers for filling.

Press the paper coil into a shape

Paper quilling an autumn leaf:

1. Begin by photocopying the leaf template to fit the box frame and position the guide onto the foam or cork mat, pinning in place. Stick two pins into the top and bottom of the central vein of the leaf.

Photocopy the paper quilling leaf template

2. Wrap a strip of red paper from the bottom around the top and back down to the bottom again. Then using a pin or cocktail stick, apply a little in between the pieces of paper, making sure not to glue the pins.

Add a strip of red quilling paper to the centre

3. Repeat until all the leaf veins on the template have been papered.

Paper quilling for beginners

4. Begin filling in the gaps on the leaf by paper quilling.

5. Dab small amounts of glue on the coil and papered vein edges to stick the pieces together. Use a pair of tweezers to avoid getting glue on the paper template. Try using shorter lengths of quilling paper to create smaller coils as you work out towards the leaf edges. Repeat until the leaf design is covered with quilled papers.

Glue the paper coil onto the leaf veins

6. Then add a red stem following the same method as step 1. Outline the leaf design with a strip of orange paper, applying glue as you pin to hold the paper in place.

Add a quilling strip around the leaf edge

7. Once the leaf is dry, take out the pins and remove the foam or cork and paper template. With an inkpad, dab the darker red ink across the edges and slowly work to a lighter shade of yellow at the centre. Allow to dry and display in a box frame.

Position the finished paper quilling leaf in the box frame

Tips on paper quilling for beginners:

  • Always work with a damp cloth nearby to keep fingers free of glue.
  • Use pre-cut paper strips for your first couple of projects rather than cutting your own, it’ll be easier to keep your designs neat and uniform.