Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

I know I’ve been doing some of my own tips and tricks on the blog here, but today I’m joining in on Amy, Diary of a Quilter, series of  QUICK  Quilting Tips and Tricks.  She’s been accumulating lots of great tricks from bloggers from all over and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.  Be sure to check out her blog for the other great tips that bloggers have shared.

For my quick tip, I wanted to share with you my quick and dirty way that I sew together backings for quilts that are made from a single large yardage cut of fabric.  It’s lovely when I have the luxury of actually owning those 4+ yards that large quilts need and can whip out a quilt back with one fabric and single seam.

Quick Tips for Quilt Backs

I start with a long multiple yard cut of a single fabric.  I’m talking about 4 – 6 yards depending on the size of the quilt.  You know…that huge amount they give you in the directions and you say “whatever, I can piece together a backing and use up my stash too”.  Well this time we are NOT doing that. lol  We are using that great big long cut of fabric that you got at a screaming deal from someone’s sale section and thought “I’m going to use that for quilt backs!”  But there is no denying that working with that much yardage at a time can be cumbersome.  So I’ve developed a method that has eliminated the pain of this piecing by so much that I actually enjoy making that quilt back and am happy with it!

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

My trick is to keep the piece as one long cut for the entire time I sew the back together.  For years I would cut the fabric in half and then sew the two pieces together, desperately trying to match up the lengths of the long pieces.  I would get annoyed by the weight of working with fabric cuts that long and would even pin these pieces together. (Pinning is still a great method if you want to perfectly match a large motif on the back, but remember…this is a QUICK tip).

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

Well, no more.  Now I use the one piece and I open it up entirely to the full 45″ width.  From one selvage side (I always choose the cute side and I’ll tell you why later), I match up the two ends of the fabric, right sides together.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

Just line up that initial end to end and take the whole big piece over to your machine.  Give yourself a generous seam allowance so that you can trim it down to a 1/4″ seam allowance AND give you extra on the side of the selvage (this is for all of you selvage users out there).  I never sew on the selvage itself because the weave is drastically tighter there and it needs to be cut from the rest of the fabric for a smooth backing.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

I use the selvage edge as my guide and it’s a perfect way to hold on to those yards of fabric because you can’t pull it or distort the seam even with the weight of all of those yards of fabric…it’s simply woven so tight.  I move along the length of the fabric and continue sewing the two edges together aligning those selvage edges.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

I eventually near the end and you can see that I will have sewn the fabric to itself until it meets at a fold, which is, low and behold, the exact middle of the length.  And you didn’t have to measure to get there!  I’m done with stitching and now it’s all about ironing and trimming.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

I take the backing to the ironing board and give the long seam a quick press to set the seam and then lift up the middle fold.  I make sure that this is a nice fold across the whole length and give it a quick press as well to create a crease to trim away later.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

I take my long piece to my cutting mat and get out my longest ruler.  I line the ruler up with a quarter inch left next to my seam and trim along the entire long seam.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings
You will see that as you do this you are trimming away the selvage edge with plenty of fabric next to it! So all you selvage project lovers out there will be gaining that in the same step as piecing your back.  Two great things for the work of one!

 

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

And then I take the folded short edge and line it up along my mat.  I use my ruler to trim away just the slightest amount to separate the two pieces (I cut fat quarters this way too if that helps anyone visualize it better).  When you have trimmed away the whole edge, you can now completely open up the fabric and you have one beautiful quilt back.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

The last step is just to press the seam open or to the side per your preference and you are all set to go!  As you can see, this works beautifully for small scale prints and solids especially.  But I’ve done it with large motifs with great success as well.

Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

And let me tell you that writing up this tutorial took far longer than actually making the quilt back.  Heck, reading the tutorial might have taken you longer than actually making one…I do like to go on and on. 😉

| Filed under Tutorials

46 thoughts on “Quick Tip for Quilt Backings

  1. This is a very good tutorial, Angela! It's exactly how I do it too. The only thing I also do is sew the seam with a walking foot, especially if I want large motifs to match up. I'm sure lots of your readers will use your method. Great job!

    1. I hope you enjoy it and it speeds up the work of piecing the back. This works well for any time you need to piece long pieces of fabric together! Perhaps for curtains?

  2. SO smart! I just sewed together a quilt back this morning and I wish I'd ready your tutorial first! I'm totally going to do it this way from now on!

  3. Great idea! As a longarm quilter, I have found that backing seams that are 1/4" leave more of a ridge than seams that are 1/2" – they just lay flatter…just something to consider. Also, thank you for NOT leaving the selvedge edge in that backing seam – those are miserable, deflecting the needle and not stretching at all!

  4. This is how I always do backs….unless the backing is directional. Like, if all your sheep are facing one direction on the fabric, if you sew it together like this, their noses or butts will meet up in the middle. (I speak from sheep butt experience.)

  5. What a great idea! I did this same thing for a quilt, but didn't realize that my fabric was directional. Luckily it is a very busy pattern, so no one will notice the fairies going in two different directions! Thanks for the tip.

    1. Yes! You definitely have to do a bit of extra work if you are working with a directional print. Then you will need to cut the piece in half before hand. But It's not too bad. And you can always say that the fairies are flying back and forth between destinations. lol

  6. Great tip! Thanks! I loved the bit at the end were you said reading this took longer, haha. I sure appreciate your attention to detail it made it so easy to follow!

  7. This is genius. I'm going to share the link to your blog post on our new group on Facebook … Late Night Quilters. The quilters on it will love this tip! Anybody who wants to join, please just send us a request on Facebook. It's a very supportive community, and we love to share ideas like this.

  8. I'm slow here…just got out of the dang hospital with a 7 mm kidney stone which could be lodged in my brain. So, the seam will be in the middle? That's fine with me. It's one less seam to feel through and wonder, "What in the heck is that bump I feel?" while I quilt…just wondering. Not a good idea, BTW to have a kidney stone malfunction while traveling in the wilds of Utah with foreign visitors…never plan of this. Really. A very bad idea. But, YOUR idea. Brilliant!

    1. oh my goodness! I'm both laughing at this and cringing for you at the same time! lol
      Yes, the seam will be in the middle ideally…depending on how you run it and your fabric estimates, it may run the length of the quilt and it may run the width of the quilt.

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