A Different Kind of Sandwich

The plans remaining from last August’s flood include more than twenty on tracing cloth.  Tracing cloth is a woven cloth that is transparent enough to use in place of tracing paper.  The cloth is much more durable than tracing paper and often served as a master copy used to make blueprints and other reproductions.

Tracing cloth is heavily sized with starch and is usually quite glossy and smooth, unless of course it sits in flood water for a day.  The cloths I am working on have lost much of their size and have become quite wrinkled.  In a few cases, the wrinkling is serious enough to obscure the information.

I would prefer not to wet the cloths again because the images could be lost or smudged, but they all have visible flood residue on them which needs to come off.  Wiping the plans with a soft cloth soaked in a mix of water and denatured alcohol removes most of the flood residue, but drying the slightly damp cloths between blotters doesn’t completely solve the wrinkling problem.

I’ve worked with transparent paper in the past and wondered if the hard-soft sandwich introduced by Hildegard Homburger and Barbara Korbel for flattening tracing paper would work on tracing cloth.  A hard-soft sandwich presses your object between a hard support on the bottom, in this case a piece of mat board, and multiple layers of drying felts which are quite soft.

The sandwich does an amazing job with tracing paper, and I’m happy to say that it does a pretty impressive job with tracing cloth as well.


  1. Hi—-is there any way we can buy water damaged tracing paper made from linen cloth as you describe? We want to get the paper to as white as we can by washing it ,bleaching or whatever to get to as white a cloth as possible. will be used in craft projects, Is any of the material already have drawings on them?——-please reply to: lacy Smith—– lacyss1@aol.com

    1. We are not sure where you could find these kinds of drawings and plans on tracing cloth. You may want to check Ebay, or antique dealers online. Sorry we weren’t able to help.

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