The secret not spoken of

Am I the only one who notices this?  Or who is bothered by it?  I have never heard anyone discuss this, or complain.  Not in conversation, and not in print.

Often clothing that has appliques on it comes with the paper backing on the inside of the fabric.  I guess it’s used to anchor the applique stitching when it’s sewn on?  And it’s usually, in my experience, left there.

Well, it’s uncomfortable.  It makes the fabric stiff.  And if it’s in a sensitive spot on the inside of clothing, it’s very irritating and/or scratchy.  Left alone, by the first or second wash it’s even worse.  Maybe it’s supposed to dissolve or something in the wash?  It doesn’t.  It gets soggy then clumps up, making the fabric even more irritating to the touch.

Whenever I purchase something with an applique, even if it’s just letters or something small, I take the time to remove that paper backing.  It’s painstaking work, because I don’t want to disturb the stitches that hold the applique in place, obviously.  So I tear and peel the paper pieces along and around all the stitches carefully.


It’s surprisingly absorbing and calming, this business.  Even more satisfying than bubble wrap, I believe.  Pulling and stretching the fabric to loosen the paper along the edges.  Peeling off longer strips and shapes, then getting all those last little bits of paper that cling to the stitched threads.  Some are very stubborn, and take gentle coaxing.

Once finished, the garment is so much nicer to wear.  Softer.  Not stiff.  Not scratchy.


I have no idea if this paper is meant to be removed or not.  No mention of it in the care instructions.  No one ever talks about it.  Which seems a little weird to me, because people talk about everything.

So I’m breaking the silence.

Speak up.  It’s time.  What do you do with the paper backing left in your clothing?

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