Some of the questions that I get asked most frequently are about paper quilling strips.
Is it worth the extra expense to buy pre-cut strips?
Can’t I just cut my own?
Can I use a paper shredder to cut strips?
What type/weight of paper can I use to cut my own strips?
Hopefully this post will answer all questions regarding this topic! If you have any questions not covered here, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll add my thoughts
Please note that all quillers have their own opinions about this matter. This post is MY opinion and My preferences.
When I first started quilling I was ten years old. I got a book about quilling at the library. I did not have any quilling paper, tools, or anything. I used a toothpick as a tool and I cut my own strips. At first I would use lined paper and just cut those strips and use them. If I wanted them colored, I would color the paper with marker or paints and then cut the strips out. After a couple years of that I moved on to colored papers. I would mark the measurements with a ruler on each side, draw the lines, and cut the paper strips. After a couple more years I started using a razor blade and ruler to cut the strips. This was my method for the next several years. So I know all about cutting your own paper strips!
When I went to college and got a job, I finally had some pocket money. I was so excited to purchase some pre-cut quilling paper. It was a joy to use! No cutting, no rough edges, no uneven strips. I could focus on quilling and not on cutting paper. I haven’t looked back since.
Another benefit of buying pre-cut quilling paper is that you can purchase acid-free paper. You can buy some cheaper quilling paper strips that aren’t labeled and probably aren’t acid free. But papers from the bigger companies (Quilled Creations, Lake City Craft, and many more) are all labeled as acid free. This means that you don’t have to worry about the papers turning yellow over time, discoloring, getting spotty, etc. This is not so important if you are making things like bookmarks, gift tags, etc. that won’t be used forever. But if you are making frames and other items that you want to stick around for a long time, you want to make sure they stay looking nice!
If you are cutting your own paper, look for paper that is labeled acid free if that is important to you. Some are, some aren’t.
The weight of a paper also makes a difference. Thinner and thicker papers curl differently and hold their curls differently. I do not know the weight of all quilling papers, but papers from Lake City Craft are between 60 and 80 pounds text weight, which is equivalent to 90-120gsm. Papers here in Malaysia are labeled in gsm. Normal printer paper that I see here in Malaysia is usually labeled around 75-80g, so it is thinner than usual quilling paper. If you are going to cut your own quilling paper and you want it to have a smooth curl, look for heavier paper instead of plain printer paper.
Yes, you can cut your own paper strips with a paper shredder. Just be aware that, depending on your shredder type/model, the edges of your strips may be more rough than smooth. And sometimes the edge strips won’t come out evenly depending on how you put in your paper. You also then have to find a way to store these paper strips so they won’t get all crumpled.
Here are some pros and cons of using pre-cut paper and cutting your own paper:
Cutting Your Own Paper
Cut only as much as you need, you don’t need to have a bunch of paper strips stored
If you are willing to shop around you can look for the exact shade of paper you want instead of relying on the selection from quilling companies
You can cut the paper any width that you would like.
You can usually purchase sheets of paper from quilling companies to cut your own strips from. So you can save some money, but still have the same paper. (some available from Lake City Craft here)
Time consuming to cut with razor and ruler
Can be an expensive investment to purchase a paper shredder
Might not be easy to find all the colors you want in the weight of paper you want (and acid free), unless you shop for paper online
You might end up with many packs of paper, not all of which you need/want
Paper may be uneven and have rough edges
Your strips are only as long as your paper, usually less than 12″
If you cut a lot of strips it can be cumbersome trying to find a way to store them without crumpling
Purchasing Quilling Paper
Nice, even cut with straight, smooth edges
The paper will be the perfect weight for quilling
Papers from most companies are acid free
Papers can be stored in the packages they come in to keep them non-crumpled
Although there are many many color choices, you may not find the exact shade you want/need for a project
You are limited by the widths of paper available from quilling paper companies (though this hasn’t been a problem for me as I always use the normal widths anyway)
This post is a work-in progress, I will add to it when I get more questions about the topic or think of other points to add.
My Choice - My personal choice for paper quilling is to use pre-cut papers. I like the nice smooth edge. I am happy with the color selection. I like being able to easily store my papers, know they are acid free, and have nice long strips. To me, it is definitely worth the extra expense. I don’t have time to shop for paper colors, cut my pieces, etc. I don’t have room to store a paper shredder, and I don’t want rough edges on my papers. But everyone has their own opinions and for some people cutting their own strips is what they like to do. As for me, I will continue to use professionally cut papers and spend more time enjoying what I love to do – paper quilling!