A Word (or two) About Quilt Backings….part I

Recently I’ve had a couple of quilts show up at my doorstep with backings (linings some call them) that have issues so I thought this might be a good place to discuss it. Now keep in mind, if you use another machine quilter you may want to check with them for what they require – this is based on my requirements.

Your backing fabric needs to be at least 5″ larger than your quilt on all four sides. That means if your quilt is 80″ by 90″ your backing fabric (at the very least) needs to be 90″ by 100″. This is important with longarm quilting due to the clamps we use on the sides of the quilts – if there isn’t’ enough fabric, the machine will bump into those clamps causing a little bobble in the quilting. Most fabrics run at least 40″ from selvage to selvage so that means you’re probably going to have to purchase extra fabric for your back. Now this is what kind of confuses me with most quilters – you have no problem what-so-ever buying tons of fabric to suit your needs, mood, desires but when it comes to backing fabric all of a sudden the frugal gene kicks in! Try as you might, those two 3 yard pieces of fabric is not going to cut it if your quilt is 80″ wide. You have to take into account that you’ve got a seam allowance – I prefer you use a 1/2″ seam allowance on your backing fabric (and that you press the seam open so there’s no lump in the middle of your quilt) so you’re losing an inch, then you need to remove those selvages – they’re made with a tighter weave than the rest of your fabric so it will cause issues when I load the backing fabric on my machine, so you lose another inch to two inches. So if you started with 42″ wide fabric you’re now down to 39″ wide fabric which will give you a 78″ wide backing. You’re going to need more fabric, aren’t you.  Buy it! You can always use the leftovers on another quilt – that’s what we quilters do! Too much fabric is not a bad thing!


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—Denise, customer since 2004

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