How To Choose The Backing For Your Quilt?


After putting so much effort into selecting fabrics for your quilt top, it seems a shame to pick something plain for the back.

There are many things to consider when selecting a backing for your fabric. The most important consideration is quality.

This happens to be a quilt top, but some backings are just as beautiful. See below for pieced examples.

By the time you get to making your quilt sandwich, you probably find yourself anxious to complete the project – get it quilted and start using or displaying it.

But if you have spent good money on quality fabrics for the top, don’t skimp on quality fabric for the back (or batting for that matter).

Using a cheaply made fabric for the back of your quilt means that it will wear out much sooner than the front.

Your quilt creations are only as good as the backing!

It’s fine to use a simple fabric like muslin for the back of your quilts, as long as it is a good quality muslin that is comparable in quality to the fabrics used for your quilt top.

Although it may sound like a good idea, generally using a bed sheet as backing fabric is not a good idea. Because the thread count is very high in a sheet, your quilting will be more difficult. In addition, some sheets have a finish that makes them slide as you quilt.

Many new quilters limit their backing choices by fabric width.  That can be troublesome if you have a very large quilt project. It is actually very easy to create a backing that is the width you need.

Determine the width you need for your backing. Since most fabrics are 45 inches wide, you can piece them together to make a quilt back. Place right sides together and sew them together along the length of the fabric panels.

In keeping with the design principle of thirds, you can create the back of your quilt in three panels, too.

For instance, use the 45 inch wide fabric panel for the center one. Cut your second panel in half lengthwise and place one half on each side of the full center fabric piece.  Stitch each half panel to the full one, lengthwise, with right sides together.

Flip out and press seams, and you have created a backing for your quilt.

You can also choose to piece backings together widthwise. Just be sure to consider the length you need as well as the width. For example, if you need a backing that is 72 inches in length, you would piece together a 45 inch wide center piece.

That means you need to add 27 more inches of fabric to make your backing.  Split that in half (13.5 inches), then add that much fabric to the top and to the bottom of the center piece.

Some quilters enjoy piecing a back side for their quilts.  If you are a beginner, save this idea for a little later, when your skill level increases.

It is doable, but might give more frustration for a novice quilter who really needs to feel the satisfaction of completing a project.

Another way to avoid piecing together wide widths of fabrics for your quilt backing is to make quilt as you go projects. With these types of quilts, you piece and quilt one block at a time. Once you have enough blocks, you sew them together to be rows. Sew the rows together to complete the quilt.

Rag quilting is a similar way to avoid worry about a quilt backing.

In a way, it is a lot like a quilt-as-you-go project. The main difference is that there is no actual quilting done. Patches are sewn wrong sides together with a batting in between if you choose to do so.  The patches are sewn together with the seams on the top side of the quilt.

Then, perpendicular snips are made into each seam at quarter inch intervals, making certain not to cut through.  Each time the quilt is washed and dried, the seams will fluff more and more.

So give your quilt backing some thought before you get started. It just might dictate the type of quilt you choose to make!

Here are a few pieced backings that are relatively easy to create, although may take some time:

This is the backing to the quilt above – created using jelly roll strips left over from the front. This pieced backing includes a little pinwheel block in the centerThis is an example of a pieced back created from a shortage of fabric.

By Penny Halgren of http://www.How-To-Quilt.com

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