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Paper Quilts

Holiday time—gifts are opened, ribbons and wrappings scattered, someone starts to clean up. Wait—don’t throw away that gift wrap, save it to make a paper quilt. Children love this craft project, which will occupy them happily while dinner is being prepared.

Working with simple geometric shapes cut from wrapping paper, it is easy to make a design that echoes the pieced quilts made in America beginning in the nineteenth century. The traditional geometric patterns of pieced quilts often had names and regional variations. Some were group efforts, with several people contributing squares to be assembled and quilted at a quilting bee. Quilts were often made from fabric purchased especially for that purpose, but some were made from scraps, just like these paper quilts.

You can use paper quilts to preserve holiday or birthday memories. Experiment by adding shapes cut from greeting cards or paper napkins. Try pasting a snapshot onto the central square of your quilt—the result can be a framed photograph that, in itself, would make a lovely gift.

Making paper quilts is easy.

  • Start with a piece of cardboard about 3" square to use as a template to trace onto the wrapping paper. For a simple pattern, trace and cut 3 squares.
  • Fold 2 of the squares to make triangles and then cut along the fold.
  • Fold each of the resulting 4 triangles in half and cut along the fold, making 8 triangles in all.
  • Place the square and the 8 triangles on a square piece of paper. Move the pieces around until you find a design that pleases you, then paste them into place.

—Nancy Joroff
Manager of School & Youth Programs

Paper Quilts