Friday, March 15, 2024

How Not to Piece a Quilt Back / Beauties Pagent 249

A show of hands, please: Who among you loves a good pieced back?

Me, too! Sometimes you will find me using a wideback (remember these ladybugs?), but its a rare occurrence, because for me, a pieced back is an opportunity to use up some fabric—fat quarters or yardage—that might otherwise linger in my stash.

My tried-and-true approach to piecing a backing is this: I take a cut of fabric that is the length required by the project, I cut it lengthwise, and then I fill in that space with enough fabric to create the width required. Heres an example, on the back of my Rain or Shine quilt (you can see additional pictures illustrating this technique here) ...

There are times, however, when Ive mixed things up a bit with good results.

Take the back side of my Norway quilt as an example. I didnt like this block enough to place it on the front, but set here on the back, it becomes something special ...

An unused panel became the focal point of my Square Deal quilt back, with equally great results ...

I wish I could say my pieced backs are always a success. This is not the case. In fact, I seem to create problems for myself when I try to do anything fancier or more fiddly. 

Take, for example, the back of my Lotus Blossom quilt. The quilt front featured fabrics that suited the recipients taste but not my own. I knew if I didnt use them on the back, I wouldnt use them at all. A few math mistakes created problems for me, and I ended up with a backing that is not my style ...

I found myself in a comparable situation recently, shown in the picture at the top of the post. (I have yet to reveal the top of this particular project.) My goal, as usual, was to use up as much fabric as I could. In this case, however, some of that fabric was 2.5-inch squares. The process was more fiddly than I had hoped, and the result is OK but not awesome. To me, the way the pieced swath cuts off at the edges of the quilt looks like a mistake. There is something to be said for big chunks of fabric on a back, I think.

The moral of my pieced-back story is this: The simpler the plan for a pieced backing, the better. I spend less time thinking and sewing a pieced back—and like the results more!—when I keep the approach straightforward.

Blog Break

Friends, I have some large quilty deadlines looming on the horizon. The smart (grown-up? sane?) thing to do is step back from this space for a bit. So Im going to take off the rest of March and all of April. I expect to be back in early May, right in time to celebrate 10 years of blogging, with new posts and finishes for you. Until then, happy sewing!

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  1. Enjoy your break--I think I know what you'll be up to. :) See you in a while.

  2. I agree that tiny piecing for quilt backs is not something that works well for me, either. Good luck with your deadlines and I think it's smart that you are prioritizing your time and efforts there. Take care!

  3. If I do a pieced back, I always do some sort of offset by design so that I don't have to fiddle with getting it perfectly centered. Enjoy your break.

    1. That is exactly what I do too. I most often use irregular column width so that I do not have to center one column straight on the back ;)

      Michelle good luck with your projects and enjoy them. xo

  4. Pieced backs are such a great use of stash! Now, if they would only make themselves!!!! Have a good break--we'll miss you!!!

  5. I like to piece backs for the same reason, but sometimes it just doesn't work and many times it is like making another quilt. Hope your time off is productive...see you in May!

  6. I definitely agree with you...the more I have to work on a pieced backing, the worse it is in so many ways. I tend to get a little loosey-goosey on the seam allowances when coming down the home stretch, which leads to something less flat than a quilt requires, which might lead to some pleats at quilting. I am all for using up the stash, but sometimes using the smaller bits to fill the trash bag is the better choice. Lately, any good bits that end up in the trash seem to get picked out and used by my more scrap-tastic friends. Win-win!!!

  7. I love your usual approach. It’s so straightforward! I bought a book for pieced backs because I rarely do this. I needed to stretch my imagination and use up my stash.

  8. While I seldom enjoy piecing a quilt back - after all, I've spent "forever" piecing the quilt front, so I just want to be done! - I always find that after making time/taking time to go to the effort of piecing a backing, I'm happy and proud of what I've done. I've USED UP STASH, and that's my primary goal these days. Sadly - or perhaps, "happily" - I no longer have print pieces large enough to do as you do: cover the length of a quilt. I really have to dig into fabrics, and set aside most pieces, to come up with enough fabric to make a backing that works. Really, after two years of dedicated "use my stash" (and don't buy more fabric) I AM seeing a real reduction in the quantity on my shelves. While most of the time, I feel very proud to be accomplishing my goal, sometimes it can make quilt finishing very difficult. I'm happy to see you're using your stash. Have a nice break from blogging!


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