What is Paper Quilting?

Sonal Panse

Paper quilting is the art of making decorative paper designs using a variety of plain, colored and patterned papers. Like fabric quilting, quilting with paper can be a solo or a collaborative endeavor. This type of quilting is similar in spirit to scrapbooking, but usually larger in scope. The paper quilt patterns and paper quilting techniques that are used can range from simple to quite complicated.

Rubber stamps are often used in paper quilting.
Rubber stamps are often used in paper quilting.

Simple paper designs include cutting basic shapes like circles, ovals, triangles, squares, and rectangles in different sizes from different types of papers and arranging them in various design combinations along a predefined template. Having different people create designs on paper squares and combining those squares into one whole can also make for an interesting quilt. Another design idea is to cut long paper strips in contrasting colors, weave these strips through each other, and glue the mat on a backing paper to form a quilt. More complicated paper quilt patterns can involve intricate paper cutting, origami constructions, and embellishments using fabrics, colored threads, stitching, lace, flowers, beads, pearl trims, ribbons, tags, embossing, rubber stamps, hand drawings and so on.

Paper quilting often requires a large number of very accurate cuts.
Paper quilting often requires a large number of very accurate cuts.

It is easy to learn to quilt with paper, especially given the plethora of ideas, suggestions and instructions that are freely available online and in how-to books. Beginners will do well to understand the basic design principles and use them as a springboard for further creativity. The papers, materials and tools required for quilting with paper can be purchased in art, hobby and craft shops. Old papers and scrap materials can also be put to good use in paper quilting.

Unlike fabric quilts, which can take months and sometimes even years to complete, paper quilting is a much faster craft. Paper quilts can usually be completed in a few days time, if not sooner. It helps to have good aesthetic judgment and know about different paper quilting techniques, but it is not necessary to be particularly knowledgeable about or proficient in sewing. Another disadvantage about paper quilting is that the creations, given their materials, are not generally very long-lasting. To maintain them, it is necessary to put them in glass-covered frames.

Making paper quilts is an enjoyable exercise that can help people relax and explore their creative sides. When groups collaborate in quilting with paper, they get to understand how individual creativity can make a vital difference in the bigger picture. Working together on a paper quilt may also bring about an improvement in interpersonal communication and relations.

Origami constructions could be included in more complex paper quilts.
Origami constructions could be included in more complex paper quilts.

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Discussion Comments


I've had my fill of scrapbooking activities after doing it for quite a few years. So I don't think that I would enjoy paper quilting right now.

One technique I really find beautiful, though, is using origami to design some of the shapes. It gives real dimension to the quilt and makes it fascinating to look at.

Right now, I'm into quilting with fabrics. I guess I'm getting more practical. Fabric quilts are very useful besides being a work of art.


Paper quilting is a great activity for school kids. I was volunteering at an elementary school when the kids were doing paper quilts.

They had a 12" X 12" piece of paper and they cut out pieces of decorative paper and clued on the large paper. Some of them didn't like the paper quilting designs, so they cut out shapes and made their own quilt square designs.

Then we put up all their quilt blocks next to each other on a bulletin board in the hall. They were very proud of their project.


@ceilingcat - I guess you could always give them away as gifts?

I think a paper quilt would be a great project for a middle school art class. A lot of kids wouldn't have the patience to make a regular quilt, but a paper quilt sounds like it's much more instant gratification. Plus, there are so many options as to design, materials, etc. I think kids would have a lot of fun with this!


I think I will just stick to quilting with fabric. After you get finished a regular quilt, you can use it as a blanket. I guess a paper quilt you would hang on a wall or put in a scrapbook?

Either way, it seems like you would eventually run out of space in your house to hang up paper quilts. I don't think people will ever stop needing blankets though.

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