Donna enjoys using her arts background to create fun craft projects with a special focus on using repurposed or handy household materials.
Recycle Paper From Magazines, Maps, and Gift Wrap Into Quilt Blocks
I love quilts, but sadly my sewing skills do not live up to my creative imagination. However, by 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
Step 1: Plan Your Design
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 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.
Step 2: Roll Your Paper
1. 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.
2. 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).
3. 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.
Step 3: Lay Out and Assemble 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.
Cut and Glue
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.
Step 4: Let the Block Dry
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!
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the best way to trim excess paper rolls from edges?
Answer: 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.
© 2014 Donna Herron
Donna Herron (author) from USA on April 28, 2016:
Hi Lynda! I love your greeting card idea. I think using rolled paper for the design would make the card too thick to fit in a regular envelope and send with basic postage. However, there are lots of other ways to use magazines for create designs for cards. Thanks for your comments!
Lynda on April 28, 2016:
I absolutely this idea to get rid of all my old quilting magazines. Your projects are beautiful! Have you tried making greeting cards? I'll have to see if that would work. Thanks for your ideas.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 05, 2014:
poetryman6969 on December 04, 2014:
Aren't you the crafty one! The result looks cool too.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on November 26, 2014:
Thanks, pstraubie48! I will check out your magazine project. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too!
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 26, 2014:
Yes this is a great way to use magazines. I shared about two years ago little trash cans or what not cans you can use making these.
My Aunt taught me how to make them years ago and they have been a fun project ever since.
Angels are on the way to you today. have a lovely Thanksgiving ps
Donna Herron (author) from USA on November 25, 2014:
Hi Glimmer Twin Fan - Great to hear from you! I was hoping this project would appeal to the quilter in you :) Thanks for your comments and share. I appreciate it!
Hi Heidi - Thanks so much! I love working with different materials to create art and crafts. Thanks, as always, for your vote up, share, and comments!!
Hi starstream - Glad this project gave you some new ideas. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!!
Dreamer at heart from Northern California on November 25, 2014:
I think this might be a good project to adapt to nursing home patients who have no creative outlet to sew quilts. Thanks for the suggestions. It is time to enjoy all those colorful paper pictures in a new way.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 25, 2014:
Wow, just wow! Another cute gift project just in time for the holidays. Voted up, useful, beautiful and sharing!
Claudia Mitchell on November 25, 2014:
Really beautiful purl3agony. I started a part time office job a few months ago and some freelance work and am finally getting around to checking out the hubs I missed from my favorite hubbers. I always love your projects and this is no exception. Shared around!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on September 30, 2014:
Hi Heather - Great to hear from you! I appreciate you stopping by and I am so glad you like this project. Looking forward to seeing some new hubs from you :) Thanks again for commenting!
Heather from Arizona on September 28, 2014:
This is beautiful! I've been away from HP for soooo long and came here as soon as I logged in. The possibilities for this project are endless and this is such a great way to recycle that magazine or five that everyone has laying around. :)
Donna Herron (author) from USA on August 26, 2014:
Thanks, Suzanne! I appreciate your comments coming from a real quilter :) I really enjoyed building the areas of color with different pieces of paper and images to create a piece that was similar to a quilt. Thanks again for commenting and for your vote up!
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on August 25, 2014:
What an interesting project. As someone who has put down the real fabric for now while I cater to children, this paper one is right up my alley for instant gratification! Voted useful.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on August 18, 2014:
Thanks, teaches12345! I made this for myself, just to see if the idea would work. I'm pleased with how it came out and I am planning to make a bigger piece, with a more intricate design. I'm so happy that others like it. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!!
Dianna Mendez on August 18, 2014:
Very creative and beautiful. I would not have ever thought of this idea. Thanks for the lovely share.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on August 17, 2014:
Hi Millionaire Tips! I love finding projects that use materials I already have on hand. So happy you enjoyed it too! Thanks for your comments and for your vote up! I appreciate it :)
Shasta Matova from USA on August 17, 2014:
That is really clever - I have a lot of magazines around here, and that sounds like a great project to use them instead of just taking to the recycling center. Voted up.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on August 17, 2014:
Thanks, theframjak! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!
theframjak from East Coast on August 16, 2014:
This is sounds like an interesting and fun project and the results look amazing. Another great hub purl3agony!