The Best Quilt Backs

108" Quilt Backs the Best Backs for machine quilted quilts

The Best Quilt Backs .............The Best Way to Construct a Backing for Quilting a Quilt on a Longarm Machine:

Backings need to be a minimum of 8” wider and 8” longer than the top so the quilt is mounted on the frame properly and enough backing fabric is left at the bottom edge as it is rolled and quilted.

Backs need to have selveges removed to prevent uneven tension in the backing which can result in tucks. Backs are squared  so the top and batting sit on a foundation that is not baggy. Backs are pressed  so wrinkles and folds are not quilted into the back.

Backs do not have mixed grain lines. If a backing is constructed with some of the fabric cross-grain and other fabric straight of grain, the backing will not have even tension. This can result in sags and possible tucks. It can also make it difficult to keep a quilt perfectly square when it is not sitting on a backing that gives it a good foundation.  The most stable part of fabric is the length-wise straight of grain edge which runs parallel to the selvege. Keep all of the grain lines running in the same direction if you are making a backing from many different fabrics.

Tips:  back-stitch seams at the edges so they do not pull apart;  press seams, preferably to one side, so they don’t show as ridges in the quilt top; sew with a close stitch lenght and use an appropriate color thread.

If a quilt is going to be entered into a show: the best backing considers the color/s of the quilting threads. The bobbin thread must be the same color as the top thread. A busy, multi-color print (not a tone-on-tone that “reads” as a solid) with similar light and dark values to the quilt top is the best choice because it minimizes any irregularities that occur during quilting. Look at the top. What is the lightest color fabric? What is the darkest? The best backing will be a print of those two colors.

If the grain line of the batting is the same direction of the grain line of the backing, the quilt will hang better. This is important if a quilt is going to be entered into a show.

If you like your label quilted into your quilt, compare the top of your quilt to the backing. Make sure the label is high enough up from the bottom edge, and far enough in from the side edges. See the mounting diagram to be sure your label is placed correctly. If the label isn’t pieced into the backing, be sure the edges are sewn down securely.

BORDERED BACKINGS If you are going to border your backing on all four sides, we cannot promise that the top will be centered perfectly horizontally. We mount the edge of the top 1" down from the edge of the backing. We are expecting the balance of the 7” to be at the bottom of the backing. Centering the top vertically is not as difficult, just be sure that the border seams on the sides of the backing are not close to where the side edges of the top are going to fall.

If you are going to use wide width backing fabrics, measure your quilt top.  Add a total of 8" to the width and 8" to the length of the measurements.  Example: the top is 90 x 108 + 8 = 98" x 116".  If the fabric needs to be washed, add 5% to the measurement. 98" x 116" + 5% = 103" x 122".  The backing for that top needs to be at least 103" wide by 122" long.

If the width of the wide backing is not enough, the best place to piece it is down the center.  It is very important to keep the grain lines running in the same direction on the side panels and in the center pieced panel. This will keep the seams on the back away from the edges of the top seams.

Christian Lane Quilters - 08/23/1999