Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to Back

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?


Sarah Craig said...

Wow, Jamie, I was surprised to see the shout-out!! I was reading along, thinking how I had started buying backing fabrics the same way - usually large scale prints that are interesting, thinking that someday it will make the perfect back for a quilt! Then I saw my name - what a thrill! Thanks for your sweet words about my backs. I always show mine if they are pieced or interesting - not if I've put one together in a hurry from just plain fabric (which I have to do sometimes to get ministry quilts out in a hurry!) But it's definitely most fun to piece the backing!

Megan said...

Lately, I've been using up the orphan blocks from the top in the backing - It's so nice to not have leftovers! I've also been sewing together a few 2 or 3 yard cuts from the stash to create backings. It's definitely helpful with stashbusting!

fancystitching said...

I'm becoming more "matchy" as I go along. Lately I have been really wanting the quilting to show on the back, so I think along those lines when choosing a back. I love your ideas for choosing backs... perhaps I need to "loosen up" a bit!


PS: LOVE the orange quilt! Your quilting is beautiful, and the design is fabulous!

Cathy said...

I love buying wild, large scale, "what on earth would anyone do with that" type fabric for my backs, especially when the fabric is drastically reduced in price. I haven't made it a habit to photograph the backs of my quilts, but you've inspired me to start.

Connie said...

I have used some wild (don't know why I bought this) fabric on the back of a couple quilts. Mainly I still just use unbleached muslin. I like your idea of trying different FF quilting on small quilts!

Anonymous said...

LOVE your quilt! That is just gorgeous.

BunkHouseQuilts said...

I love to have a interesting pieced back also. But I have to confess that I had not made many pieced backings until I started blogging. I have discovered some wonderful ideas.
Love your wall hanging, and it has the perfect backing!!

Sara said...

great post and something we all should consider. I try to make a bolder statement with my backings. Just depends on the top I guess.
Love how you mentioned quilt shops marking down some of their backings before inventory;) Good idea!!