Choosing the perfect backing can be fun! Really guys! Even if the top is several years down the road and not even a "twinkle" in your eyes. I bought this awful duck fabric years ago, which eventually made it to a very masculine quilt for my husband (his favorite by the way). There was enough left over to make a charity pillowcase, the lining of a purse, and a couple of hot pads.
I tend to buy bulk for backs and save for later. My inventory has a variety of large-piece novelty, classic, masculine and kid prints. When there is a sale, six (6) yards is my favorite length to buy. However .... I have been known to buy whatever is on the bolt (5 to 10 yards). What is the best backing fabric to buy ahead -- good quality, good price, and oh yes, something pleasing to the eye (well ... sorta). Sometimes, the surprise look from the recipient, when they see that crazy fabric on the back is worth the edgy choice.
In general .... nine (9) yards can back a king; six (6) yards can back a queen if you add a filler strip; five to six (5 - 6) yards for twin/double; and three-four (3-4) for small/lap. The Orange Quilt I showed off earlier this week needed an additional 10" strip -- Here is the back below --- I alternated scraps and 10" x 16" rectangles (which were left over after I added the outside border). Although the quilt top was scraps of all shades of orange, the six yards of yellowish gold was a perfect fit.
Below is a little top my sister Phyllis and her granddaughter made last weekend. She inserted a 6" strip to a 1-1/2 yard piece of fabric, which made a very cute backing. Oooops -- I forgot to remove my ugly quilting gloves. Those little quilts are where I try out new free-form quilting designs and practice before moving to my big quilts.
Below is a nine (9) yard piece purchased last year (on sale of course) -- I love this retro print! I will have enough for a large quilt backing one day and still have scraps left over. Any imperfections while quilting will be well hidden.
One of my favorite quilts hanging in our hallway, this "Art Affair" quilt designed by Jan Douglas was made in 2006 (her pattern published in February 2006 McCall's Magazine).
The backing below -- who knows why I bought this one! I am sure it was on sale and bought "just because". It was later used from my stash and it worked!
Sarah, over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict likes to piece her backings incorporating the scraps left over from the tops. I would say her quilts are reversible, because they are gorgeous from both sides. Bonnie Hunter, one of my favorite scrappy girls of the Quiltville fame, has used 10" squares and orphan blocks for her backings -- can I say "L-O-V-E" them!
Now the next time you are digging through the sales, don't look at the fabric to match the perfect quilt top --- think outside the box. Pick something that makes you smile -- the one that pops -- or the onetime fad fabric that may or may not ever come back in style. AND, to the shop owners out there, package those 5-6 yard "gotta-get-rid-of-before-tax-inventory" fabrics into "BACKING" sales and I will see ya there!
From this post forward, I will be always display the pictures of my quilts from both sides (even though they may not be reversible like Sarah's) and even those "YUK" backings! I am challenging others to do the same -- lets see how many different styles are out there. Are you "matchy-matchy", "scrappy", "close-enough" -- or some other style or combination?