Quilting backing how-to

This quilt top started with some dainty floral fabric (Olympus Soleil) that went on sale, and the idea to make a picnic quilt. I used an easy stacked coin pattern and worked the florals in with mostly green solids. For the backing, I decided to use the same solid olive fabric that I plan to use for the binding. As often happens, I got around to making the quilt months after I bought the fabric. Since then, I’ve borrowed little bits and pieces from the yards of olive that I bought, so now I don’t have quite enough for the binding and backing. In come the scraps.

A quilt backing needs to be 3 inches bigger on all sides than the quilt top. My quilt will be 80 x 85″. Somehow I need to make an 86 x 91″ rectangle from 150 x 42″ of fabric for the backing. Backing should be made from large pieces of fabric so it isn’t too bulky with seams and doesn’t compete with the front. I will make four rectangles that are 37 x 42, and then make an 86 x 18 ” strip from the largest scraps to fill the gap in the length, I can put this strip at the top or in the middle (keeping in mind that three inches of the backing edges will be cut away when the quilt sandwich is complete). I’ll also need to add two inches to the width, and I think I’ll use one of the other solid greens from the front.

If you do have enough of one piece of fabric, then you just piece it together to make the size rectangle you need. Which, of course, is simpler and looks very elegant. Denyse Schmidt’s quilts often have nicely contrasting solids (and sometimes bold prints) for quilt backs that remind me of a pretty coat lining.

4 thoughts on “Quilting backing how-to

  1. Don’t you dare put that quilt on the ground! I simply will not allow picnicking to occur on that gorgeous thing. I love the mostly white with the color band. This post is so helpful–thank you! If you don’t think you are adept or smart enough (talking ’bout me) to piece together a backing, can you buy extra-wide fabric for backing? My pattern seems to call for 2 3/4 yards of 108″ wide fabric.

    • I think you can find backing width fabric–but I bet your choice of color will be limited and I would guess that the cotton will not be as nice as a kona cotton. Another solution is to use a queen or full size flat sheet (you just trim off the hems). By the way–do you have a rotary cutter? If not, you should get one–it makes almost every quilting task so much easier and neater. BUT, I promise you it is not hard to put together a backing. You can probably stitch together two widths of fabric each cut to the length you need. What is the finished size of your quilt?

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