Wide Fabrics Tips and Uses
FatBacksĀ® & Wide Quilt Backings from Christian Lane Quilters!

SQUARING wide backing fabric is easy.  Understanding how fabric is constructed is helpful.

Grain is the direction of the threads in a fabric.

Selvege is the edge of the fabric that is woven closely. It helps feed the fabric through the machinery when it's manufactured. Selveges do not belong in quilt backings.

Straight of Grain is in line with either the lengthwise or crosswise grain.

Warp Threads - Lengthwise Straight of Grain is the thread running parallel to the selvege. This is the most stable weave of the fabric. This direction has very little give, because the threads are pulled tight during manufacturing. If you hold the fabric parallel to the selvege, and tug, you'll feel little give.  If fabric is torn lengthwise straight of grain, the fabric will tear straight.

Weft Threads-Crosswise Straight of Grain is the thread that runs from selvege to selvege. These threads have some stretch inherent to the weaving process. If you hold fabric with oposite selvege edges in your hands and pull, you will feel give.  If fabric is torn crosswise straight of grain, it will not usually tear perpendicular to the selvege. This is especially true of wider width fabrics and why we always recomend squaring and cutting our backings.

Bias  is also called off-grain, and is any direction other than crosswise or lengthwise. If you pull on the fabric in any bias direction, it will give. The most stretch will be found with true bias, which is 45 degrees from both grains.

Grainline is not always perpendicular. If you tear a fabric from selvege to selvege, and are able to align the selveges AND the torn edges, the grains are perpendicular. If you can not, the warp and weft are not perpendicular.

 We have used a 44" wide width of fabric in our squaring illustrations. 

Illustrations and instructions are in order:  click on each picture in turn.



The finished width of the quilt back prints is 108 to 112  inches wide. After washing, 100% cotton fabrics can have a residual shrinkage of up to 5%. Shrinkage can be minimized by washing the fabric in cold water with a cool dry cycle.  A good guideline to determine the size bacing to purchase is:  add 5% to the finished size that you need.  If you are having your top quilted, be sure to consider the number of inches your quilter needs as overage.  For example, we need the backings that we work with to be eight inches wider and eight inches longer than the size of the top.  Add the eight inch overage to your top's dimensions, and then add 5% to each side.

Example:  the top measures 90" wide x 108" long.  Add 8" to each side.  The backing needs to be 98" x 116".  When 5% is added to each of those figures, to allow for shrinkage and squaring, the needed size is 103" x 122".  The 108" width of the fabric is fine for the 103" width of the backing, 122"divided by 36" = 3.38 yards.  Place the order for 3 and 1/2 yards.  (Our shopping cart is set up in half yard units - enter 7 units for a backing this size.)



Prewash all new fabrics before using them to avoid uneven shrinkage and transfer of colors when the quilt is laundered.

Unfold all fabrics before placing it into the washing machine.

Separate the fabrics into piles of same-colored fabrics.

Wash light colored fabrics in cold or lukewarm water with a phosphate free detergent.

Soak dark colored fabrics individually in cold water for at least half an hour to set the dyes and then machine wash in cold water with a phosphate free detergent.

Tumble dry fabrics in a cool dry cycle.  To avoid wrinkling, do not put more than six yards of fabric in the dryer at one time.

Quilts made with both light and dark colored fabrics should only be washed in cold water.



The dyes used in these fabrics are reactive dyes; therefore, colors are stable and will not release any excess dye.  Prewashing fabric is not necessary.  If you choose to prewash, wash in cold water and damp dry.  Complete the drying process by air drying.  This washing and drying method will retain the finish of the fabric and will meet the standards of quilters who do not want to prewash fabrics, and those who do.


Wide Fabrics have many uses:

wall coverings for antique homes, backdrops for photo shoots and stage productions, pergola covers for weddings, sun blocks for beach parties, skirting for bedding, odd sized bedding for motor homes, pet bedding for animal shelters, canopies for birthday parties, nursing home privacy curtains, curtains or linings for sliding doors or showers, party tents, or banners for school graduations and celebrations. 

It can be used to make quilts for service men and women returning home from war.   Slip covers, custom boat interiors, tarps, wind screens, covering delicate machinery, projection screens, and printing projects can be made from wide fabrics. 

The wide fabric is also ideal to use to make duvet covers, screening for special events or trade shows, banquet tablecloths, backing for area rugs, sheets, drapery panels, panels for pre-school students to paint, costuming, and screening and blankets for disaster survivors.


FatBacks!®, is a trademarked protected product of Wilma Cogliantry.


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