How to Showcase the Quilt Backing

 Displaying the Quilt Backings to Good Advantage

Just how do you showcase the quilt backing? Sometimes all that is needed is a compatible stitching design on the back to support a beautiful pieced quilt top. The quilting pattern should be appropriate for the style of the quilt.

When the quilt backing is inferior in design the pieced top will take on the same personality. You want the backing to get just as many oohs and ahhs as the top gets.

Be sure the quilting stitches are breathtaking. Be creative. Don't be afraid to use a bold color or a very fancy and whimsical feather design if appropriate. You will instinctively know good quilting when you see it.

The point is, the quilt backing should be as pretty as the quilt itself, so... use the same quality fabric on the back as you did on the front when you pieced it.

Crossing the Finishing Line

Use Left Over Fabric and Create a Puzzle Design

Quilt Backing

I found at least 4 different pieces of fabric that measured a yard or more and each waiting to be found in my stash. All four pieces were pastel colors and had a small print.

I only needed an additional 5 or so yards of neutral fabric to create this pattern for a quilt backing.

In the 21st century backings have come of age. Multiple fabrics can be used for a backing all within the same quilt. Don't pass this pattern up as it is perfect for a teenager or younger, boy or girl,  makes no difference!

This is a fun backing to make and it compliments the Dick and Jane Story Book quilt that I used it on.  Be creative with pieces of fabric that are at least a 42-inches square. You may already have a few on your shelf.

You can make it too with our easy puzzle pattern so don't pass it up.

 A Quilt Can be Reversible. 

This quilt is used at Christmas time and then again in the spring of the year. 

Simply reverse the quilt and place a 3-foot wide banner at the foot of the bed made with spring colors. 

Or better yet, place a small twin size quilt draped across the middle of the bed and on point to create a stunning view. Who says a bedroom has to be off limits with the decorating?

Quilt Backing Alternatives

I love looking at elegant soft flowing stitches on the back side of the quilt. I have been known to simply cover the bed with a quilt in reverse order.

Recently I saw a bed runner used across the foot of the bed and that was all it took for me. Almost instantly I doubled my quilts and believe me that is a lot.

Seaming the Quilt Backing Parts Together

When piecing the backing of a quilt, avoid using a center seam. When a quilt is folded in half, the extra bulk of the center seam along the fold line stresses the quilt, causing the quilt top and batting to break down.

Instead, cut one of the lengths of backing fabric into two long, narrow pieces. Stitch a narrow piece to each side of the full-width piece.

The quilt should be loaded into the quilting frame with the seams running the same direction as the rail does (also called the belly bar) .

The point is to disperse the seams to avoid any build-up of a long continuous seam down the middle of the backing. Try to reduce the bulk by placing the seams on each side of the center line.

The three examples above should be loaded with the seams following the belly bar.

Plan Your Piecing Strategy

The third layer of a quilt is known as the backing. The top layer
features the main design and the in-between is the quilt batting. But, the backing takes special piecing such as flanking a width of backing with another split width of equal size.

Another acceptable method for constructing a quilt backing uses an offset to avoid a seam down the middle.

Quilts are frequently folded down the center when stored. A center seam adds bulk which translates to more stress both when quilting and when storing.

For these reasons, a center seam is less desirable. Plan your piecing strategy to avoid a center seam.

When figuring how much quilt backing to buy, start with the measurements of your quilt top. Enhance these measurements by adding 8 inches to the length and 8 inches to the width...also be sure to add at least 1/8 yard for squaring the material.

Quilting Instructions are sometimes vague but if you plan to prewash your fabric add another 1/8 yard for shrinkage.  A good rule to follow is always buy an extra one-fourth yard of material for your backing. Remember, if you don't need it you can add it to your stash! Don't worry, your stash never gets huge!

To avoid piecing the quilt backing, check with quilting stores in your area. You can also search on-line. You will find that both sources have extra wide fabric especially designed for a one-piece back.

Over-sized fabric comes as wide as 120-inches which is enough for a king-size quilt. This size is ideal for the quilter. Quilting a Quilt requires the backing be pieced to minimize the way the seams come in contact with the frame's rollers. When piecing a backing there are tips for getting it to lay flat in order to square it up.

This might be a good time to mention any fall-off pieces of fabric bigger than 2-inches wide go ahead and cut it into a square and save for that scrap quilt you plan to do someday!

Removing the Selvedge is Critical

learn to quilt

Never sew two pieces of backing fabric together without removing the selvage first.

Selvage must be trimmed off. When left on, it will not allow the backing to lay flat.

The selvage should be removed;  If the professional quilter has to remove the selvage it generally  will involve an extra fee.

When there is not enough material to trim the selvage, the end result may require you to purchase a piece of fabric that is large enough for the quilt topping.

The selvage edge of any piece of fabric will not allow the fabric to relax. That is why it is best to trim the selvage edge.

This is a good rule to follow when working with all fabric. Not just the backing! Preventing raveling is the only purpose for selvage! Cut it off! 

Pressing the Seam is Critical

learn to quilt

Once selvage  has been removed and backing joined together, press the seam open so it lays flat. Use small stitches when sewing this seam as there will be some stress on it once loaded into the quilting frame. Use 12 stitches to an inch.

When first learning how to make a quilt, it is also important to know how to press a seam. Our Quilting instructions  will show you how to properly press all your seams without stretching and distorting the fabric.

Squaring up your Quilt Backing

learn to quilt

Fold your backing in half on this seam with selvedge edges together at the other end.

Smooth it out so that the fold is nice and flat and there are no wrinkles. Pressing is important.

Standing at the seam fold, fold again from right to left.  Now you have a fold at the seam and a fold to your right.

You will have 4 layers of material.  Pinch the fabric at the second fold to make sure all 4 layers are in the fold and that there are no hidden wrinkles or lumps!

Folding for Accuracy

learn to quilt

Another way to make sure all 4 layers are in the fold is to take a ruler and run along the inside of the sure and be gentle so as not to distort the layers.

If your backing is extra large, continue to fold until it is small enough and will fit on your cutting mat.

Be sure to smooth out all the wrinkles and pinch the fold each time you make a new fold; just to be sure all layers of fabric are accounted for.

Trimming the Edges

learn to quilt

Go to the opposite end (uneven cut edges or non-selvedge ends) of your folded backing and using your ruler and rotary cutter, make a nice straight cut to even up the edges.

Continue to cut the width of the quilting fabric on the other end if not folded twice. 

Measure for Accuracy

Turn your fabric so the longest part runs parallel to the longest part of your mat.  We now have all three edges straight and lined up on the mat (the seam fold, the two uneven cut edges).

On the other selvedge edge, check all four layers and trim to even the backing fabric with the shortest edge.

After squaring up your backing, measure it again to make sure that it is a total of 6-8 inches larger than the top, if you are going to have it long arm quilted.

A machine quilter will require a minimum of 3-inches of excess fabric on all sides.  If you are using a professional machine quilter, often 8-inches will be needed. Guess what? If you cut too short, you must add it back on in order to be able to put the backing on the quilting frame. So always ask before cutting.

Hanging a Quilt

If you plan to display your quilts either on your walls or at a quilt show, you will need to know how to add a hanging sleeve. We show you the steps on how to hang a quilt. You will need at a minimum an 8-inch strip of matching fabric, the width of the quilt.

This is another reason to follow the rule of always buying more than you need when you purchase the fabric for your backing.

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