Quilt backs

When customers come into the shop and ask me how much fabric they need for their quilt back, my first question is whether the dimensions they are giving me are the size of the quilt top or the desired size of the top.  Usually it's the top and I ask how much extra they or their longarm quilter likes to add to each side on the back.  I do my math from there. Did I do this for my own quilt?  Of course not! Grumble.

I can't believe I used the quilt top dimensions and forgot to add extra.  That's why I was slow getting the bird quilt quilted.  I was put out with myself and the quilt, as though it was the quilt's fault!  However, it's also why I have this pretty pieced back, which a friend thought I had planned on purpose as an added element.  I should have let her think so!

I really like the way it turned out and it started me thinking about other quilts I have made that ended up with pieced backs.  There are not many and all but one got their extra decorative touch because I goofed.

First up, Don't Panic.  I bought the fabric for the backing when I bought the fabric for the top, but I changed my plan in the end and ended up with a larger quilt.  I inserted strips of scraps from the top to make up the difference.

Next is Love's Quilt.  This is the only one that had a pieced back on purpose.  It was a group effort for a blogging friend.  I received extra blocks that I wanted to include, so I planned the back around those.  It's like a whole other quilt.

My first Canada Quilt also suffered from buying the backing before the top was finished.  I don't have a picture of the finished back, and it isn't easy to photograph right now, so I'll just share this picture of the top and extra blocks on the design wall.  The column of blocks on the right became a strip down the back of the quilt, tucked between lengths of the intended backing fabric.

I do like the way it turned out, though I didn't enjoy hand quilting areas with extra thickness from the extra seams on the back.  This, of course, is why I added extra seams to the next quilt I hand quilted!  The back does not match the front of the Kaleidoscope quilt at all, but I hadn't bought enough black for the back.  My son likes hockey and I had some hockey puck fabric and plain red and blue for lines...

Tonight, I took out the fabric for the back of my Canada 150 quilt.  Guess what?  I did it again.  Time to start planning what to insert into this back to bring it up to size.  Time's ticking - Canada Day is July 1st!

Tell me about your pieced backs.  Do you make them that way on purpose as a decorative element?  Do youpiece backs to use up leftover fabric?  Do you only make them when you've shorted yourself on backing fabric?  Or do you avoid them like the plague and take care to do your math right every time?


  1. liking your backs I just use a sheet or take a duvet cover apart have never attempted anything complicated!

  2. I can't recall doing anything more than seams between lengths of fabric to form the backs of my quilts. I have had to add yardage a time or two when I fell short. I find pieced backs really fun, but I rarely have the patience to make one. : )

  3. I love pieced backs and most of my quilts have them. I think they add interest to the quilt -- a nice little surprise on the back! I do pattern testing and usually have a stack of lovely blocks that weren't made for a specific project so I often include them in a quilt back. Or I use up leftover pieces from the quilt's front or from other projects. There are so many options!

  4. I think the pieced backs add interest and character to the quilt. Yours look nice. I can just picture the last one since the column was there. I almost always piece my backs because I work out of my stash whenever possible.

  5. I love pieced backs! I don't hand quilt any more so the extra seams don't concern me. I look at the pieced backs a making a two-sided quilt. It's like finding a surprise. Another advantage is I don't add as much to the ever growing piles of scraps!

  6. Lovely quilts and I love your pieced backs. I used to carefully measure to make my backs but now I usually add leftovers and scraps to the backs. I no longer hand quilt so the extra seams don't concern me. I feel it makes a two sided quilt! It also helps with the ever growing piles of scraps.

  7. I only piece a back when I have too. I prefer wide back fabric so there is no seam on the back. However I did piece a back for a baby quilt just to use up the extra fabric and it was kind of fun to figure out how to make it look nice but it took me quite a while to get it right. Might not do it again but who knows?🤔😉

  8. I've done a mix. Most of my backs are plain - the less seams the better. I've done one or two of them where I wanted the back to have something nifty: some kind of design from the front continued on the back (like Northern Lights or Stained Kites). And several were very scrappy quilts, in which I was piecemealing everything with whatever I had on hand. So far I've been lucky and haven't screwed up on backing yardage... but it's only a matter of time!

  9. While you said on my APQ Friends quilt it was planned that way, I would have never ever thought it was a mistake; I knew immediately it was meant to be that way, and I love it! And I thank you again for making it so very special on both sides! I guess I should tell you, I think I'm about to enter that situation very soon on my current project; it seems to keep growing. I love your method of recovery! No one would ever guess! ---"Love"

  10. Interesting post! I generally have plain wide fabric backings - the odd time I've used a pieced backing the seams haven't turned out straight down/across the back which has frustrated me (in spite of careful planning!) (Hehe I'm not organised enough to think of getting the backing when I'm still planning the quilt!)

  11. Plan ahead? NO!! Usually I try to find something in my stash that I can use for the back and most of the time it is pieced, but not with any special blocks. One quilt that I absolutely love is my Blogging Buddies friendship quilt that I put several orphan blocks on the back because I didn't have enough of the fabric that I liked for the back. It looks really neat. I need to do that more often! Yours look great!

  12. Usually, when I'm finally finished piecing a top, I don't want to piece the backing, too. But enough time went by with my green paper lanterns quilt, and I don't have any shopping opportunities here, so I did it, and I even got it straight when I layered the quilt! Love all your backs and I appreciate the inspiration!

  13. Perhaps not what you intended but each quilt has a unique element. I like how you used the extra blocks in Love's quilt. Might be time for me to embrace pieced backs and finish up those UFOs.

  14. I love pieced backs! I don't hand quilt any more so the extra seams don't concern me.



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