Why Keep The Paper?  I did a little research

Why Keep The Paper? I did a little research

One of my older lovely quilt friends told me a story about how her mother would use foundation papers for quilt templates and sew them right into the quilt.  All I could think of is "wouldn't they ball up when the quilt was washed?"

I tried to find historical reference to this apparent tradition, the info is scarce.  That's ok, first hand stories are pretty good, but why leave the paper?

Leaving the paper inside quilts was primarily a practical decision borne out of necessity.  Below I've snagged a couple of pictures of English Paper Piecing papers once a block has been assembled, just imagine leaving these papers without removing!  


First, the added layer of paper provided extra warmth, crucial during the harsh winters, especially in war-ravaged regions where heating resources were scarce. Moreover, the urgency of war and the scarcity of materials meant that removing the paper, a time-consuming process, was often a luxury that quilters could not afford. The paper, therefore, remained, hidden within the quilts, its presence known only to the maker and perhaps to those who found comfort in the quilts’ embrace.

Here's an image of the right side of the block, beautiful!

Elizabeth Eastmond Tutorial


I've tried to imagine some other possible reasons someone would leave the papers inside the quilts and my great thinking imagination came up with these possibilities:

  • way to preserve letters from loved ones, maybe soldiers during war or secret loves?
  • newspapers were used for insulation in all sorts of places, especially when a draft or leaky window needed to be insulated
  • preserve a historical reference, seen or unseen, but very sentimental

I can't really see the need to leave foundation papers in the quilt, but if it meant not having to rip so much paper out after my creation comes to life, maybe I should just give it a try?

I did find a blog post that had some pictures of this rich history, I'll include the link here:  Blog Post With Pictures

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