Quilt Backing Basics

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plain quilt backing

one block wonder

leftovers quilt backing

Elaine’s Tech Tips

Things to consider when choosing the backing fabric

  • A busy print will disguise quilting imperfections, but if you want to showcase the quilting, then choose a solid or tone-on-tone fabric.
  • Evaluate the amount of white or light patches on the front. A light or white backing will keep the intensity of the white or light on the front. A dark back will dull the top somewhat because of shadowing. This can be used to your advantage if you feel that the top is too bright. Do not use a backing fabric that has big value changes if the top has large expanses of white or light. The value changes will shadow through and create patchiness in the coloration of the top.
  • The colour of the back does not have to match exactly with the front, but it is nice if the backing coordinates in some way. This is especially true if the quilt/wall hanging will be entered into a juried show. The judges will look at the backing to see how it integrates with the theme on the front.
  • Use the same fibre content as the front. If you used cotton on the front, use cotton on the back. Do not mix polyester with cotton – the fibres wear at different rates.
  • Estimate the yardage (see below) and consider the cost. Do you want to use $15 a meter fabric for the backing? Would a lesser expensive fabric achieve the same result?
  • Most quilt stores have a supply of wide backings up to 120 inches wide. There is a fairly wide selection of colours available now.

Read more in our Fall 2012 issue.

Article by Elaine Theriault

Bio:  Elaine made her first quilt at the tender age of 13. The urge to quilt resurfaced when her daughter moved from a crib. The rest is history – she now teaches several days a week, makes quilts on commission and quilts for others on the long-arm.

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