Tips and Thoughts on Quilt Backings

Posted by on 21 September 2020 | 2 Comments
This content belongs to Arbee Designs.

Have you ever found yourself short of fabric for your quilt backing or simply want to use up some of your scraps/stash? Today Anita Eaton shares some thoughts on how she makes scraps work for quilt backs.

Covid-19 has affected a great many of us who quilt. Stores are closed, or even if they are not closed many of us are not willing to venture out until we feel things are safer.

That being the case, I decided that I would be able to stretch the size of my quilt back using some blocks that were easily made and that related to the front of the quilt. This is the backing the main part of the quilt. As you can see, I have pieced a row of blocks up the middle to widen (stretch) the backing.

blocks to stretch backing

Blocks to 'stretch' the backing

I will add borders for the front and back later, perhaps doing something like the borders on this version of the Entwined Star quilt. So, while I do not have all the fabrics I need to finish the borders I can still continue to work on this to get the main section done.

backings pieced border backing

Pieced border for backing on
Entwined Star

I particularly enjoy what I refer to as "pansy and sweet pea" colored fabrics. My stash is totally out of control when it comes to these colors! For another quilt, I create a rather abstract back. To create this, I pieced pieces of fabrics into wide strips that made up the width of the backing, then I joined the strips with long floral panels. I like it so well that I often turn the quilt over to what I originally considered the back this it has unexpectedly become a reversible quilt.

backings pansy and sweetpea colored backing

"Pansy and Sweetpea" colors

ES SunflowerThis is the back of one of my “Entwined Star" Quilts. I had an abundance of fabrics used for the front that decided a patchwork back would be more fun than a single fabric backing. This time I used random sized pieces to make strips to the length of the backing, creating one wide panel down the center and smaller panels toward the outside. This not only had the benefit of not buying more fabrics but helped me to diminish my stash a little more.

backings entwined star backing

Entwined Star backing

Since I am not venturing out these days it seems like a great time to organize and use some of my stash. Who knows what other fabrics will find an unexpected use in a quilt project! - Anita.

Will your next quilt backing be a pieced one? Here are some extra tips on creating one from scraps in your stash.

  • - Try to work with the fabrics used on the front of the quilt, or at least the colors of those fabrics 
  • - Determine the wide or length of your finished quilt and add a few inches to that measurement (you always need your backing larger than the front)
  • - Create strips of pieced fabric the measurement above (either width or length) and make as many as you need to create the opposite measurement remembering to allow for seam allowances as well. Note: the wider your strips are, the less you will need.
  • - For a quilt backing, I prefer to press my seams open. This distributes the bulk of the seam and makes it easier when quilting.
  • - Join the strips together. You might consider joining them with full length unpieced strips like Anita did with her "pansy and sweet pea" colored backing. Keep joining strips to make up the full measurement required for your backing.
  • - And remember, when finished to give it a really good press.

About Anita Eaton: Anita started sewing at 3 and began quilting at 7 thanks to her grandmothers who taught her. In the early 2000s, she began designing her own quilts that were usually pieced variations on traditional quilts or blocks. She enjoys a variety of fabrics and tends toward a scrappy look with an overall color scheme. You can find a number of Anita's patterns on our website: Anita's patterns


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  • Hi Marsha,

    Lining up the back and front is an ongoing challenge for me. I have used several methods to help.

    My method of laying out my quilts is rather inelegant, I pin the backing to my living room carpet with T pins, and I can keep it quite smooth that way. One thing you can try is to tape toothpicks to the right side center of the backing, lay the backing out, add the batting and top. Then you can feel the toothpicks so that you can center the top over the backing.

    Another method that I often use the extended seam lines from the backing as a guide to line up the front of the quilt. I use T pins as I adjust the lineup. Once I am happy with that I use small safety pins to pin baste the top.

    I quilted the Entwined Star in the ditch. The stars show up on the back, but they may overlap the various sections of the backing. The lavender quilt back is the same, and the block shapes of the quilting flow over the large abstract shapes on the back.

    Matching up in the ditch quilting to identical blocks from one side to the other would be a challenge even if you quilted the quilt in sections and joined the sections because even a minor shift of the fabric could shift the stitching out of the ditch on the back. You might want to consider doing a ripple or an overall pattern instead of trying to match up both sides.


    Posted by Anita, 25/09/2020 1:23pm (1 year ago)

  • Hi Anita! Your quiltbacks are really nice enough to make them "fronts"! I have a question about lining up the back with the front. I have tried putting a few pieced blocks in the backing but found it extremely difficult to then line these up nicely when I lay the top onto the batting. Also, how to line these up so that the quilting on the front (mostly in the ditch) lines up with the backing blocks. Perhaps you have a few tips?? I would be grateful!

    Posted by Marsha, 25/09/2020 4:58am (1 year ago)

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