Removing the Paper Backing from Fabric Samples

I find some of my favorite reclaimed fabrics in discontinued decorator sample books–like the giant woven rose above. 

There’s only one problem with this wonderful resource–the paper glued to the back of the samples.    Some paper peels off easily, but more often than not, it’s almost impossible to remove all the adhesive. 

I handle this problem 3 ways–

1) Cut around the paper.  Use your samples for smaller projects and layers.    I make a lot of little bags out of decorator samples.

2) Stitch over the paper.  If you plan to dry clean your piece like my rose pillow above, you can anchor the sample to a backing fabric with rows or bands of stitching.  This is a good solution for fragile fabrics and bright colors like red that might bleed. 

3) Soak the paper off.  A good overnight soak in the sink works best for cottons, but I’ve soaked silks too. Then plan to peel and scrape–I’ve often use my egg turner.   And don’t be surprised if you have to live  with a little of the adhesive.  I find it very hard to get all the sticky stuff off without using chemicals or solvents (not my style). 

Easier way?  I haven’t found one, but please share if you have.   I’m always looking for ways to make the most of great fabrics–like the ones I find in sample books.

For more about the construction of my big rose pillow above, go to this earlier post


  1. Have you tried using a hot iron or even freezing the samples on the hard to remove samples? I’m going through this now myself, a friend just suggested to try freezing it. That’s what she does when she needs candle wax to come off of plastic. Just a thought. I’m personally still struggling with the iron, it works on some and not others. last resort will be water and deal w/the glue residue. TIA

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