No-Sew Quilt Block Using Paper from Magazines, Maps, and Gift Wrap
I love quilts, but sadly my sewing skills do not live up to my creative imagination. But using rolled paper strips, and with no sewing, I've been able to create colorful quilt blocks that are beautiful to look at and fun to make. I simply used bright bands of rolled paper strips to create the fields of color usually made with fabric! This project is a great way to recycle or upcycle old magazines, catalogs, maps, sheet music, and those small pieces of gift wrap that are too tiny to use for wrapping. This technique can be used to create other art projects too, including greeting cards and special holiday decorations!
Materials for a Rolled Paper Quilt Block
The materials for this project are pretty basic:
- a stretched canvas or sturdy colored cardboard or mat board to use as backing (you could also use a thin piece of plywood). Your backing board can be any size that works with your quilt block design. My canvas was 12 inches by 12 inches square.
- lots and lots of paper from magazines, catalogs, gift wrap, etc to use as your quilt "fabric". Catalogs, fashion magazines, and design magazines are good to use because the paper is a bit thicker than the paper in most magazines.
- glue stick to seal your paper rolls
- any type of craft glue that dries clear to build your quilt block
- pencil, scissors, and a ruler
- acrylic or tempera paint (optional) if you choose to use a stretched canvas as your backing
How to Make a No Sew Quilt Block with Rolled Paper
1. The first step of this project is to pick the design for your quilt block. If you are unfamiliar with traditional quilt designs, you can look at quilting books and magazines, or search on the internet. I've posted some ideas for basic quilt blocks on my blog.
I suggest you choose a simple design to start, with straight lines and basic blocks of color. I chose a chevron design for my quilt block, but it was tricky to cut my paper rolls on the diagonal to fit my design and get my edges to line up.
2. If you are using a stretched canvas or piece of plywood as your backing, I would recommend that you paint your surface to start. Choose a color that will complement the color scheme you are using for your block (I chose a light blue-green color). This will avoid having your unfinished backing show between your paper rolls in your design.
3. Take some time to think about your edges: I painted the sides of my stretched canvas before starting my project, and then placed my paper rolls so they extended beyond the edges of my backing a bit to give my quilt block a more finished look. You might want to do something similar, or plan to frame your finished block. You should decide what you're going to do with your sides and edges before beginning your project.
4. Transfer your chosen quilt design to your backing board using a pencil and ruler. Measure out your quilt design carefully. You will need these measurements to make your rolled paper strips. For instance, each of my four chevron columns were 3 inches wide. As I was rolling my paper, I made sure that each of my tubes was over 3 inches wide to fit in my design.
5. Start pulling together the paper materials and images you want to use for your quilt block. Consider the color combinations you want to use to create your finished quilt block. For instance, if you want your quilt block to use shades of yellow and purple, then collect materials and photos that are yellow and purple.
6. Cut your paper materials down into pieces that are whatever width you'll need for the areas of your quilt block, and about 3 inches long (you might want your paper pieces to be a little bit longer if your paper or gift wrap is a thin material).
7. To make your rolled paper tubes, put your images face down on your work surface. I like to work on some scrap paper. As it gets sticky from the glue stick, I can just put down a fresh piece of paper.
Beginning from the top edge, roll your paper as tightly as possible to make a sturdy tube that is a little thinner then a pen or pencil (see photo above). Spread glue stick across the bottom inch or so of your paper piece and seal the finished edge of your tube. It takes a little bit of practice to roll your tubes nice and tight. If you have trouble, try rolling your paper around a thin stick or small knitting needle to get it started.
Note: If you still have trouble rolling some pieces, try turning your paper 90 degrees. Some paper rolls easier in one direction over the other.
Creating Your Quilt Block
1. Once you have all your paper pieces rolled, separate them into groups by color, including separate groups for light and dark shades of the same color.
2. Then start building each section of color in your quilt block with rolls of paper. I suggest you lay out a few areas to make sure you like how they look together before your start gluing anything in place.
I actually laid out all four of my columns of color on my table top before I cut and glued anything down on my quilt block. This way, I was able to move my pieces around and see what colors worked best next to each other. I chose to create a color gradient in each of the columns of my quilt, but you could use a solid color in each area of your block to build your design.
3. As you begin to place your paper tubes in your design, be careful to measure and cut each piece so it fits correctly in your design. I don't have a rotary cutter, but you may be able to use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim your pieces to fit in your block. Just be careful not to apply too much pressure as you are cutting and accidentally dent or crush your rolls of paper.
4. I used a white craft glue to adhere my paper tubes in place. I spread my glue over a little section at a time, and filled in my design.
5. Continue in this manner to place and glue your paper rolls to build your quilt design.
6. Once all your paper pieces are glued down, let your quilt block dry completely. If you want, you can embellish your quilt by adding beads, buttons, or sequin. Then once dry, use scissors to trim any edge pieces as you need.
Other Ideas for Rolled Paper Projects
You can use this technique to make a number of colorful art projects!
- Use paper tubes to fill in any simple and recognizable shape like a heart, snowman, leaf, tree, bird, or wreath.
- Trace your initial on a backing board and fill in the letter with rolls of paper for a personal wall decoration, or:
- Use multiple canvases or boards and put a letter on each to spell out words like "love", "faith", "family", or "hope".
- Make a cute nursery wall hanging by spelling out a new baby's name on multiple canvases or boards. What a great baby gift!
- Buy blank cards to create holiday greetings featuring a festive wreath, or make Christmas decorations with rolled paper wreaths, backed with color paper to hang on your tree.
I hope you have fun trying this technique to make a unique and colorful project!
Copyright © 2014 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.
Questions & Answers
What is the best way to trim excess paper rolls from edges?
To cut the paper rolls on the outside edge of your canvas, you can use a sharp pair of scissors, a utility knife, or a rotary cutter (like those used in quilting). I would suggest turning your canvas over so the back is facing up when you cut the rolls. Be careful and try to cut them in a straight line. Then check your work from the front.