Monday, April 11, 2016

Technique: How I Piece My Backs

I love the look of a pieced quilt back. In fact, there have been times when I’ve had enough of one fabric to make an entire back and have chosen to cut up that yardage, incorporate other fabrics, and piece one instead.

What’s better than one pretty fabric on the back of a quilt?
Many pretty fabrics!

When it’s time to make my back, the recipe I follow is simple. I take a 2-yard cut of fabric and cut it length-wise. (I don’t bother removing the selvages.) I don’t like things to be too symmetrical, so I’ll cut the length about 25 inches from the left edge.

Then I figure out how much fabric I’ll need to add to the center to accommodate the width of the quilt top. I head to my stash, and sometimes my scrap bin, to find coordinating bits. I sew them up in a column and attach the sides.

Everything is laid out and ready to be sewn.

I like this approach because it produces a chunky back, one that doesn’t compete with the top for the spotlight and one that’s not too fiddly to sew.

This technique also helps me be a smarter stasher. When I find a fabric on sale that would work well as the main fabric in a pieced back, I buy a 2-yard cut of it. Most of my quilts are throws, so by buying 2 yards, I’m stashing enough fabric to cover the length of a throw-size quilt plus a few inches of overage.

Ta da! One lovely pieced back.

Not all my backs work out this way. There are those for which I needed to sew a 2-yard swath of fabric before cutting it length-wise and adding the center column ...

Click here to read more about Bring on the Dancing Horses

There are those for which I sewed something similarly chunky without following the 2-yard recipe ...

Click here to read more about Good Day Sunshine.

And there are those that included multiple miscuts, small bits of fabric, and headaches all around ...

Click here to read more about Lotus Blossom.
How about you? Do you piece your backs? And if you do, what trends can you identify in your approach?

To see the finished quilt that goes with the pink and purple back at the top of the post, visit again soon. If the weather cooperates, I’ll take pictures and write a post later this week. : )

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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  1. This is a great idea. I struggle with how much fabric to buy for a back when I am stashing as I don't want a stash of 5 yard cuts. Your process really simplifies that!

  2. I really like this idea. I have been moving toward more whole cloth backs lately, but something like this simple recipe makes me know it would be a great way to work through my stash more efficiently. Thanks!

  3. I piece everything but baby quilt backs. My favorite method is cut up a bunch of scraps/stash to the same width, 8-10" works great. Then sew them together jelly roll race style. When that doesn't work, it becomes a free-for-all of styles. :) Or I use a sheet if I know the recipient wouldn't appreciate the time of a pieced back. Love this tutorial though!!!

  4. It really depends on the quilt for me and what I have in my stash that coordinates. Sometimes I just want a quick finish so I use something whole cloth. I do love pieced backs especially on stash quilts. It feels so good to use up what I have.

  5. LOVE this post! Usually I piece together a bunch of scraps from the front and surround it with another color, or I piece together fat quarters or half yards that go together. That way, it can really be a double-sided quilt!

  6. Awesome. I love the idea of cutting lengthwise and adding a column to make it wide enough. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Lately, I've been trying to piece my back from the leftovers of the front, using up as much of the fabric as I can. I like using biggish pieces to cut down on bulk. Of course, now that I've said this, I can think of all kinds of quilts that have had smaller pieces.

  8. Great idea! I’ve pieced my backings, using a fat quarter pack that I didn’t like enough to use in a front. When I quilt a quilt by hand, I buy enough yeardage to cut it in half and have no other pieces added. Sometimes I add a strip of leftover fabrics from the front. I used to use IKEA fabrics for the backings of charity quilts, but the collection of 100% cottons that are not heavy weight has become minimal.

  9. I really like your method and it really solves the issue of having quilts that would require twice as much yardage because it is wider than the width of the fabric! I have done a few pieced backs -- one of which is very complicated and could be its own art piece, and then a few others that are more simple and incorporate extra blocks and leftover fabrics from that particular project.

  10. I have done similar piecing, but a fun idea is to enlarge a block used on the top (for instance a DP9 patch) and incorporate it into the back - I have done this several times and it makes for a real fun switch - my daughters like the back as much as the fronts. Because I have my LQS do my quilting, I need an extra 4 inches on each side, something to consider when you are doing the math.

  11. This is exactly how i do it! I am 69yrs. and in the process of TRYING to work down about 40yrs of "stash":) I have some friends that cringe as my mixed backings, but most people that are "cool" understand the reasoning:).. Barbara

  12. I like this method. I've learned (the hard way) that I don't like overly pieced backs but this is organized enough that it's a great alternative if I don't have enough for a whole cloth backing.

  13. I like to use orphan blocks to create the column increasing the width of the fabric in the backing. Pieced back as so much more fun then plain backings!

  14. I'm always piecing backs, even when I have enough fabric. In fact I'm only going to quilt my first whole cloth backed quilt soon, when I get some more batting. I like how it allows for some simple creativity, and adds an alternative side for gift quilts.

  15. Love this technique. Always piecing and putting in those pesky orphan blocks too.

  16. I really like your approach - I usually piece the back but I tend to just add the extra fabric to one side/end. Splitting the yardage and adding the pieces in the middle makes it all appear more planned out!

  17. I love this!!! Thank you


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