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Backing Your Quilt

fabric with quilt design for easy quilting on back of quilt

For a truly frugal quilt, the backing of a quilt can also be pieced.  However, after doing all the work on the top, most quilters prefer to use a solid piece of fabric.

One quick way to back a quilt is to buy fabric that is extra wide (usually 108-inches wide).

Most fabric is 44-inches wide.  This means that unless you are making a small quilt, you are going to have to seam the back.  You will buy your backing fabric twice as long as the quilt (and some to spare; 4-inches per side) and then seam the long pieces together.

There are 2 ways to seam the back piece.  You can make one seam that runs straight down the back of the quilt, or you can tear half of the back piece in half, and sew 2 seams, as pictured on the right.how to seam the backing fabric of your quilt

 Although it takes a little longer, it is worth the effort to sew the extra seam.  If you put the seam down the middle.  If you seam it down the center,  you may find that because the quilt is often folded at that position, your quilt will start standing up like a tent, or folding over like a greeting card!

Be sure and buy a fabric that you like for the backing, because you will have a lot of it left over from the sides.  Also, if you are making a lap quilt, the backing is going to be seen, and you will want a nicer fabric.

I like to piece my back, but in large blocks of fabric.  This gives it a more homespun feeling, and helps me use up my "overgrown" stash.

You will find a lot of experienced quilters use a small print on the back.  This is because a small print will help disguise small quilting mistakes.

When you are just starting out, and you are making your first big quilt and are facing buying 6 or more yards of fabric for the backing, you will find yourself looking very closely at discount fabric when it is on sale.

Be sure that the "feel" of the backing matches the personality of the quilt.  You wouldn't want to put an autumn print on the back of a pink baby quilt. 

Be mindful of the print and color of the fabric.  In an ideal world, the backing would be made from one of the prints on the front of the quilt.

This is also a good place to use large prints, stripes, plaids, and checks.

If you plan on learning how to quilt freehand with your machine, here is a tip.  Look for prints that have a good quilting design.  You can do your quilting upside down, following the lines on the design of the backing fabric.  This eliminates the need to do any marking.

If you look at the fabric on the top of the page, you can see how you could easily follow the lines on the pattern  - with several options.

Be sure and read the section of fabric and quality page.  You can find bargains and acceptable fabric suitable for the backing of your quilt, but you must choose carefully.

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