Apple Hill Quilting in Eastern Ontario

Do you have your first quilt top finished now you need to purchase the backing?

Making sure you have the proper amount of backing is crucial to ensure your quilt finishes up perfectly. There are a few things to consider when purchasing fabric for the back of your quilt. Such things like what type of fabric do you need, is the quilt a wall-hanging or a bed quilt and your budget is also something to consider. Will you be quilting the quilt yourself or is your preferred longarmer quilting it for you?

Fireside and Cuddletex

First lets look at the type of fabric you want to use. There is of course 100% cotton fabric that comes in 45 inches and 108 inches wide. There is also flannel fabric for a cozier feel and then there is the new Fireside or Cuddletex fabric. Both of these last ones come in a variety of colours and widths. These fabrics quilt well and don’t stretch. If your quilt is a wall hanging I would stick to using a cotton backing in order for it to hang better and reduces bulk.

Blueberry Fields

Once you have decided on the fabric you want to work with for the backing the next plan is how this fabric is going to lay. Is your quilt square, rectangular, is it directional meaning is there a definitive top and bottom? If it is directional and your backing is also directional you need to take that into consideration if you are piecing the back. If you have to piece the backing it is always best to have the seams going from side to side instead of top to bottom, especially if you are bringing it to a longarmer. This way the seams are parallel to the roller bars on the frame.

Will you be doing the quilting yourself or are you bringing the quilt to a longarmer? A longarmer will most likely want to make sure you have at least 4″ to 5″ all around extra in order to attach the backing with the clips on the side of the machine. Same goes for the batting for that matter, it should be bigger than the quilt too. Check out the Quilt Maker Pro 18 or 20 for all its features.

Now that you have all the necessary questions answered, lets get to it. How to measure for the backing and determine how much fabric to buy. We will do two scenarios. The first one will be a backing that has a seam and the second will have a seam for the same size quilt top.

Lets take a quilt top that is 70″ wide and 75″ long. Usually the dimensions are always width first and length second so this makes it 70″ x 75″.

The first scenario lets use a backing that is 108″ wide that is considered wide back. Widebacks come in a variety of colours and designs and are readily available at most quilt shops in your area. Widebacks are great for bedquilts, wall-hangings and wholecloths. The price varies depending on the quality of the fabric. I don’t tend to buy cheap backing it will often run and is stiff. Since the quilt is shorter than 108″ we only need to buy just enough to cover from side to side. the quilt is 70″ wide, I will add 5″ for each side so that make it 80″ wide. I will therefore need 80″ of wideback which translates to 80 divided by 39 inches ( 39 inches in a metre) which will equal 2.05 meters I often will add a wee bit to make sure it is cut straight so I will buy 2.1 meters of wideback for this quilt top.

The second scenario lets buy a fabric that is 45 inches wide. You need to consider that most 45″ wide fabrics are not really 45″ wide so I always err on the side of caution and use 42″ in my calculations. There will be a seam running down the centre of the backing going from side to side. I always make these seams a little wider than 1/4″ and press the seam open. I also remove the selvage because it is quite a tight weave. For a quilt top that is 75″ long we will need two strips going from side to side at 42″ or 43″ wide will give us a total of 85″ long when sewn together. This length is long enough to cover the total length of the quilt top including the extra 10″. Again I add 5 ” on either side the quilt top so that makes it 80″ wide. Because I need two strips of 80″ long the total amount needed is 160″ divided by 39″ ( 39″ in a metre) will give us 4.1 metres of fabric that is 42″ wide.

Now you are ready to head out to your favourite sewing or quilt shop for backing. Most Janome dealers have excellent staff that can also help you out.

Happy Quilting.


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