Traditionally, quilt backing is a print used in the quilt top, a simple muslin, or a 108″ extra-wide fabric. Today, fun novelties or pieced backs are common. Here are some ways to narrow down your choices.
Hand quilting is usually quilted with cream, natural color thread. To show off your beautiful hand stitches, think about a solid or tone on tone backing. If your quilt is large, an extra wide back is good so you won’t have uneven stitches when quilting into the extra layers of fabric in the seams.
If you plan to machine quilt, you may change thread colors to match the patchwork. If you match the bobbin and top thread, a multi-color design backing will camouflage the changes. A busy backing will also hide some of the starts and stops.
If you choose a long arm quilter to cover your quilt with intricate feathers or custom work, a simple design backing will show off the quilting. Discuss the backing size with your quilter, because some need extra inches to load into the machine.
Here are some other ideas to make your quilt back as special as the front.
If you have a large collection of fat quarters, cut them to a standard size, about 17″ x 20″. Sew together for a scrappy backing.
Do you have extra pieces left over from the front of the quilt? If so, create a simple patchwork panel in the center. Our Land of Whimzie flannel squares were used here, with borders from our Fabric Palette, 1-yard precut solid grey. The soft texture will be cuddly and warm.
A pieced insert works well for larger quilts, when you need to piece in a section. To back a 90″ quilt, use two widths, about 42″ and insert a 12″ or 15″ row of patchwork blocks or strip piecing. You’ll have the extra wide backing you need. If you insert the row in the bottom quarter, instead of center, it creates a bed-runner look.
Other ideas: use an unfinished quilt top – just add wide borders to make it to size. Sew together odd blocks, don’t worry about centering them, just add different width borders, log cabin style. Pick something whimsical – if a bolt of dancing flamingos makes you smile, back your next quilt with it!
Ask to see the backing of some of the quilts at the next quilt show you visit. You may be surprised at what you see. For more ideas, keep a Pinterest board of backings. Traditional or funky, your backing choice will get you one step closer to finishing!