February 10, 2016

Pieced Quilt Backings

Do you like a pieced quilt backing? I think some of them are absolutely amazing. They can easily rival the front for attention.

As a matter of fact, my friend Cindy of Live a Colorful Life used the leftovers from the quilt (below right) to make the fabulous quilt back (below left). You can see this graphic quilt at QuiltCon 2016 if you're going. She entered the back. Isn't that great?

I have seldom made a pieced back. Once I've gotten to the finishing stage, (sadly something that doesn't happen often enough) I'm usually ready for the quickest, easiest back possible. Sometimes even piecing a couple of widths of fabric can seem like pain. In my humble opinion, wide quilt back fabrics that don't need any piecing at all are a wonderful quilting invention.

With my two leafy green checkerboard tops nearly finished, I started looking for backing fabrics. I have a large enough piece of fabric for the smaller wall hanging, but nothing big enough for the queen sized bed quilt. So I searched a lot of online shops looking for just the right backing. I admit to being pretty darn picky about my backing fabrics. It has to continue the look of the front in terms of both coloring and feel. And of course the price needs to be right too. Backing a quilt can be a costly addition to the overall project.

Then I reminded myself of my 2016 goal to use my stash. I didn't really think I had enough green leaf prints leftover to back both quilts but figured it was worth a try. I also had some extra blocks leftover that could be used.

The big question was how to determine if I had enough fabric. The first thing I did was to get out all the large pieces of leftover leafy fabrics, then I measured them and put them on my design wall. Next I turned to the computer.

Graph paper would work just as well, but more and more now I use the computer. It's quick and easy to try different options without redrawing everything. I drew up basic shapes in the size of my fabric chunks and played around with layouts. Here's a few of the arrangements.

Working with the chunks, I realized I actually did have enough fabric to back both quilts. And the more I played the more excited I got about the back of the bed quilt having a design of it's own. The idea that I can flip the quilt over for a second look is quite appealing. That idea led to a more designed look for the back like this drawing below.

Today, I started cutting the pieces. The only thing I hadn't considered was the amount of white I'd need. More than I thought, so I did have to buy a little more white on white print from my local shop. But buying 1 yard is way better than buying multiple yards for the entire backing.

I'm going with the layout you see below. It uses up all the extra blocks and most of the large chunks with enough leftover for the wall quilt. The wall quilt will also be pieced but more simply with four big chunks.

I feels so good to know I'm using my stash and saving money in the process. I'll be sending these two quilts to a longarmer, so money saved on backing just means more put toward the quilting. I like that!

I also like visits from my helper. Now if only she would actually do more than sit on whatever I'm working on. I think she knows her eyes match the quilt.

Do you like pieced quilts backs? Have you ever done one? Craftsy has a good class by Elizabeth Hartman called Creative Quilt Backs just in case you'd like to learn more. She walks you through different ways you can approach piecing your backing and best of all it's free.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday.



  1. Very clever way to use up those left over pieces. What program did you use to design the back?

  2. I think your backing is gonna be awesome! I'd like to know what program you send also!! I love doing pieced backings and using my stash! I've been working on one since yesterday!!

  3. I absolutely love the pieced backs, but like you, I often just want a finish so I can move on to the next project. Those greens are beautiful and I can't wait to see your two-for-one quilt.

  4. I love pieced backs though I sometimes get carried away and spend too much time on them.
    Your helper and mine are look a likes! :)

  5. Pieced backs are the only way for me. Fabric is really expensive over here and i'd resent paying £50 for a piece of backing fabric

  6. I don't always, but I do like a pieced back, especially with an element of the front. Love the designs you came up with!

  7. I'm with you on appreciating the speed and convenience of whole cloth backing... but using stash is a very good thing, too! A pieced backing might be the solution for a top that's still in pieces on my design wall, and my fabric budget would be grateful. Something to think about while I sew up the top.

  8. I've used a different quilt top as the backing. Use up some ufos!

  9. OH fantastic!!! The pieced back is going to be as gorgeous as the front. And definitely works for using the stash! I make pieced backings that are fairly simple - mostly blocking with larger pieces and some 'leftovers' from the project. I wait for the sales on Flat Folds at my local Ben Franklin to scoop up longer cuts for backs!

  10. Your backing is going to be awesome Anne! (As is Cindy's!!) I love the greens! I do attempt pieced backs because fabric in Australia is upwards of $24 a metre, so buying four or more metres for a back is just not affordable! I'm also curious too about the program you use to draw it all up. Although I am an old-fashioned graph paper girl......

  11. I love pieced backs, your design looks amazing, and the quilt will definitely be two-sided. That said, though I love pieced backings, I hate making them. I am totally for the wide backing fabric :)

  12. I usually end up with pieced backs, unintentionally, because I have an awful time figuring out the math and yards needed. I finally finished my Swoon quilt and searched around for any backing that would work without having to purchse more fabric. I found nearly 8 yards of black and white print. Not the ideal backing but I didn't have to buy anything so there you have it. On these quilts, you may end up liking the backs more than the front. :)

  13. Since I started making modern quilts, I have made pieced backs. It is a great way to use left over blocks and extra fabric that was purchased just for the quilt. No more organ blocks and smaller stash fabric leftover. Love pieced backs.

  14. I don't do pieced backing. By the time I finish the quilt-top I ready to quilt it and move on to the next project. I mostly use solids for my backing. Your green quilt is really pretty. Wonderful job designing a two sided quilt. Love your helper, she is so beautiful.


  15. This is exactly what I do! I really hate trying to measure, cut, and piece big chunks of fabric (if it doesn't fit on my cutting mat, even when folded, it's a huge pain). I tend to go the extremes. Either a heavily pieced back, or a single piece of wide fabric.


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