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Backing Options

Once you have completed your beautiful quilt top and you’re ready to move onto the basting phase, you’ll need to choose a backing fabric for your quilt. There are a LOT of options here, so let’s break them down, and check out some options!


Regular Quilting Cotton

This is what typically comes in approximately 41-44” wide. Piecing is minimal, and can often find and use sale and clearance fabrics. If you’re not using sale fabrics, a backing for a throw is usually around $100. At least where I am! There are unlimited choices when it comes to regular quilting cotton.


Widebacks

The alternative to regular quilting cotton for backings, is widebacks. Widebacks are 108” wide so you are buying less yardage in a sense, but because widebacks are, well, wider, they are more expensive than regular quilting cotton. In my experience, widebacks end up working out to be the same amount as regular quilting cotton, but there’s usually less options. Piecing is usually unnecessary, but to date I have not yet used a wideback or really seen the value in them.


Other Fabrics

You can absolutely use other fabrics for backings! Minky, wovens, and even canvas can be used. Any fabric without stretch is what I would suggest. Piecing is usually the same as you would for regular quilting cotton. Keep in mind when figuring out the yardage, be sure to check the width of the fabric as it may not be what you’re used to. 


Party in the Back Backing

This is the backing where anything goes. Use up extra blocks, scraps, whatever. Hence, making it a party in the back! I like these as an alternative for two main reasons: (1) It uses up leftover fabrics usually from the quilt top, and (2) it’s inexpensive. Now the main reason I don’t like them is because it’s more piecing and I am not a fan of piecing backs! I’m all about the front, but the back just irks me. LOL! Party in the Back backings are really cool because you can make the design however you like and they are always unique.

Quilt & photo courtesy of Vivian Doan @sew.mis.viv


Bed sheets

Now this is my jam! Bed sheets are a great alternative for a backing because guess what? NO PIECING! LOL! A flat sheet is preferred, however a fitted sheet works just as well after you cut off the elastic. Be sure to check the fabric for stretching. A jersey knit is lovely as a sheet, but not when sewing as a backing! When buying new sheets for a backing they can be considerably less expensive than fabric. But a variety might be tricky. SO! Try bleach or ice dye to make a plain sheet colourful and different. 


Vintage Bed Sheets

Vintage bed sheets get their own section because typically you will need to source them from somewhere. Your local thrift shop, ebay, etsy or wherever. Depending on where you find them, they can be pricier than new sheets from Target, or significantly cheaper. My advice when you’ve found a vintage sheet you’re considering buying is to check the label first, and to check how sheer and thin it is. Open the sheet up and check for wear in the middle as well. If the sheet is too thin, you may want to pass on it. A lot of vintage sheets are not 100% cotton either. Usually vintage sheets are a 50/50 blend of cotton/polyester.


Other points to consider 

If you want to show off your quilting more, then use a less busier backing. Solids are a good option to show off quilting, and are usually cheaper at the quilt shop than prints. If your backing isn’t going to be seen, like for a wall hanging or something; then you can use fabric that is less favorable. When sending your quilt to the long armer, you’ll need a minimum of four inches all around your quilt. Need help figuring out the math? Check out the Robert Kaufman quilting calculator app. It’s free, and there is a fantastic backing segment that is easy to use. 


Whatever backing you use, it will be amazing because that means you are that much closer to finishing your quilt! Some of these options I haven’t tried yet. Have you tried them all?

Share your favorite backing options in the comments.

Until next time friend,

Keep it Quilty

Maude

6 Responses

  1. Why don’t you think of the quilt as doubled sided, so there is no back? If you can buy double A sided records why not quilts? This way you’re giving a double present and they can choose the top they like best despite changing moods!
    I’ve used extra, extra wide backing in a lovely pattern (2m x 2-5m). It was good quality and cost under £30 which is under £7 a meter.
    I hope this cheers you up the next time you’re ‘backing’ a quilt!!

    1. This is a fantastic way to approach this and adore the record vinyl comparison! I’ve done a couple times a double sided type quilt, and they’ve been lovely. Maybe it’s time to try another!

  2. votre article est trés interessant , l’ arriere est souvent un probleme pour moi alors soit j’achete des tissus un peu neutre (gris ,beige ,creme a petit motifs) soit des draps plats neufs ou vintage ,de temps en temps je fait aussi un assemblage de plusieurs tissus,mais comme il faut souvent une grande quantité de tissus le prix final rentre aussi en compte !

  3. Lately I’ve been using a large panel in the back of the quilt. You can get them on sale for a pretty good price, and it saves you from buying yardage. You still have to piece it together, but you can make it as simple or detailed as you want.

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