When we talk about quilt designs, we are almost always referring to the quilt top. Why is that? Oftentimes, the back of the quilt has a design of its own. In fact, some quilters put so much work into their quilt backs they’ve basically made a two-sided quilt. Today, I want to highlight this often overlooked design element of a quilt.
It’s true quilt backing is a personal preference, unique to each quilter. Some of us are so excited to have finished the quilt top, we pull together a backing as swiftly as possible. The quickest and easiest, of course, would be to use a single cut of extra-wide backing fabric. This width of fabric seems to be becoming more popular, however, the options are still limited so it can be difficult to find exactly what you want.
For a combination of ease and variety of fabric, another option uses the standard 42” width of fabric to make a quilt backing. You simply cut the one long piece of fabric in half and sew the two parts together lengthwise with just one seam. Most quilt patterns use this style of quilt backing when listing yardage requirements since the 42” width of fabric easiest to find.
I’m sure we’ve all made one or both of these easy fabric backings, but have you ever pieced your quilt backing? A pieced backing can be as simple or as intricate as your heart desires. Perfect for those occasions when you don’t have the yardage needed for a simple quilt backing or to help you make a dent in your stash of fabrics.
Angela Pingel shares this handful of quilt backs to consider next time you’re finishing a quilt in her book, A Quilter’s Mixology:
Option 1: Four large cuts pieced to meet at the quilt back center.
Option 2: A strip pieced horizontally into a single seamed pieced back. This is a useful option when you have a good amount of yardage but not quite enough. It gives you the extra length you need.
Option 3: A back composed of fat quarters. I often end up with a collection of fat quarters that I’m not quite sure what to do with. The bonus with these is that they can be from the same fabric line and have a natural cohesion.
Option 4: A back that uses up those extra blocks you may have made for the quilt front. Waste not, want not! Put those blocks to good use and enjoy them, even on the back.
You are only limited by your imagination! Backings can be as simple as you like or as creatively complex as you like. It’s entirely up to you and your personal preferences. –AP
Angela’s suggestions are the perfect starting point for anyone interested in pieced quilt backings. I’ve been enamored with this notion of a pieced backing because I think the beauty is in the details. It might not make sense for every quilt, but anytime I can add an unexpected surprise by bringing elements of the quilt design to the quilt backing I will.
You’ll be able to hone your curved piecing technique as you explore 16 projects using the Drunkard’s Path Block and discover the many facets of quilt design when you order your copy of A Quilter’s Mixology. If you want to skip the shipping, you can download the eBook instantly.
P.S. Do you piece your quilt backs? We’d love to hear about them and take a peek. Leave a comment below or upload images of your quilts into the free member galleries.