Quilt Backings

How do you decide what to put on the backs of your quilts?

I’m not real picky about my backings.  Matching backings to the top isn’t high on my priority list.  If the top is very light or white (which I guess is very light!), I don’t want to use a very dark backing that might show through and that’s about all I worry about.  A lot of my backings are pieced.  Sometimes, mostly when I’m too lazy to piece a backing, I’ll use extra wide backing fabric.

There are several 6 – 7 yard pieces of fabric in my stash that I bought for backing fabrics.  A couple of them I’ve loved for a very long time.  This Jim Shore fabric is one of those . . I’ve made two quilts specifically to go with this backing and have not used it either time.  Third time’s the charm they say.

At the Paducah quilt show, in Eleanor Burns’ booth, I bought this apple fabric.  I’m not sure if it was in 2010 or 2009.

It’s kinda ugly but I love it!  Every time I look at it, it makes me smile.  I don’t know why.  Do you think it’s ugly or do you love it?  When I finished the top that was sent to Quiltmaker . . the top that you’re probably sick of hearing me say how much I love it but can’t show it  .. I’m keeping that quilt for me because . . well, I love it and I so want to share it with you but I can’t!  🙂  Anyway, this green apple fabric just doesn’t go with it at all if you’re thinking the backing and top should kinda match, and you can see that it has purple binding.  As soon as I decided that quilt was going to be for me, I ran and grabbed that green apple fabric to use for the backing.

Here it is all stretched out lengthwise.  I love it!





  1. 1

    Diann Smith says

    The apple backing fabric does not do much for me but if someone LOVES some fabric it is morally wrong NOT to buy it..ha. I try to use up leftover fabric from the pieced top on the back and get it gone in columns or keyboard long strip however I can think of something. Anything else leftover gets cut into 5″, 2.5″, or 1.5″ squares. If it’s a big enough piece I make my own fat quarters.
    I plan to try Bonnie Hunter’s total backing made of 10.5″ squares someday soon. See I have a lot of fabric and I need to figure out ways to get it gone. Guess with cotton prices rising I guess I should have some stash to sew on. So two projects ongoing now and I see on another blog last night a cute baby quilt and cut it out and today I guess I have three UFOs to work on. Quilt till you wilt!
    I just love your blog. It starts my day. And I love how you blog more than once in a day. Sorry to be so full of words this morning. In the house two days with just hubby and he doesn’t speak quilt.

  2. 3


    I look in my stash of older fabrics for stuff that coordinates with the front of the quilt, just sew it together at random until it has the right size and then use it as backing.

  3. 6

    Marla says

    I have always been an apple fan. When I was a kid, green apple candy or anything green apple was my favorite. I even had green apple purfume! Love your apple fabric Judy. It made me smile too!

  4. 7

    Alberta in N GA says

    I do love the apple backing, and I read your blog first every morning cause everything you say makes me smile and I am ready for my day. Thanks for your fun blogging.

  5. 8


    I found sheets make perfect backs for my quilts. I get them at 2nd hand shops (and wash them real well before using). Your apple print is adorable. I’m not sure what I would mix with it, but it’s begging to be used.

  6. 9


    I was told that purple and green are opposites on the color wheel, therefore should be used together. So there you go! I like the apples – they make me smile!!

  7. 10

    Sandy says

    I love fun fabrics to use for backings. I definately think the apple fabric qualifies! I enjoy starting my day off reading your blog, Judy and love the fact that I can come back a few times a day and there are new posts! DH is always hearing me say “Judy this, Judy that.” He knows this is my quilting friend from Missouri, lol. I also like that you share so much of your life (Vince, Chad and chicken stories are so entertaining) and tell us what new products or gadgets are good. Since then, I have gotten a Kindle and an Ipad. A new iron may be the next purchase.

    Can’t wait to see the quilt. Did you say it would be May before the magazine comes out?

  8. 11

    pdudgeon says

    yep, i look for backing fabrics to co-ordinate with the tops, because i will often flip the quilt mid-month. My favorites are ticking stripes or fabric with strip sets that run the length of the fabric, or all over florals. i’ve been fortunate to find a lot of them. they aren’t usually from the same fabric line, but most of them co-ordinate well. that way i get two different quilts that look great on both sides for the price of one.

    i also look for fabrics that would make great bindings.
    Bindings are usually an afterthought, but the right binding will pop the quilt and give it that perfect finishing touch right to the very edge. when i find those ‘just right’ fabrics, i will usually buy multiple yards and reserve them in my stash. and yes, when i run out of a perfect fabric i’ve been known to comb the web looking for more.

    i think your apple fabric makes a great backing as well as a binding fabric.

  9. 12


    I love the apple fabric Judy; I think it is a fun print without being over the top.

    I do have an EQ question though. . . . how do you account for your binding in the fabric calculations?

    The only way that I have been able to do it is to make a secondary border so that I can get an approximate amount for the classes I teach.

    Do you know of a faster or easier method?

    Thank you,

    Sherry V.

  10. 13


    It’s funny, that you mention the backing. I have my very first quilt with a non solid backing in the frame right now. And trust me I’ve made plenty of quilts. I’ve been quilting for over 3 decades. I’ve put calicos on the back of baby quilts but never have I used anything but white or off white for a big one.

    I did blog about it briefly earlier this week.

    We got an inch of snow last night. What did you end up with?


  11. 14


    Good for you to use it rather or not it matches the front – the fact is that you love it and you already said you smile when you see it… so what better way to wrap yourself up in something you love when you get to wrap up in that secret quilt made for Quiltmaker! 🙂

    I love the apples too… 😉 and how precise they are all aligned.

    Happy Weekend Judy & Love from Texas! ~bonnie

    PS – I thought of you this week when I won the sewing cabinet giveaway from Arrow Sewing Cabinets on facebook… they randomly selected someone to ship their “Olivia” to and I was the one! 🙂 I got to choose if I wanted the green or white. I know how much you love green – and it was so tempting… but in the end I went with the white in hopes to paint the wall it will sit on… Green! 🙂 Wish me luck on that “honey do” lol

  12. 16


    I like to use up the leftovers and make a scrappy, or get something coordinating to finish. My latest favorite is wide back plain flannels that my LQS carries in cream white and black. It is so easy and the stitching always looks great on flannel. When I am too lazy to do anything else this works great. I love the apples!

  13. 18


    It usually “goes” or is muslin… because my DH (who knows little about quilting) can be a bit of a Quilt Nazi about things matching! If it’s for a gift, I let him have final say, but there are times where things don’t match and I’m okay with that!

  14. 19


    I usually match the back, i.e., I get the backing when I get the fabric for the top, or else I piece the leftovers into a backing. But I guess at some point I’ll use whatever I have to get the thing finished!

  15. 20


    I really like the Apple fabric! But, I like anything with a “apple theme”. We live in apple/vineyard country. Sonoma county, CA. So these types of fabrics are very popular around here. I’m anxious to see your quilt too. I’m not picky about backing fabrics either. I don’t set out to matchy-matchy the backing to the quilt top. For one thing, hardly anyone ever sees the backing of a quilt. Be it on a bed or a wall or hanging over a quilt rack. It’s just not that visible. I am trying to use up yards of fabric as backings, and then I’m going to just buy 108″ wide quilt backing fabrics from now on. There is not much of a selection in 108″ wide fabrics, but there’s enough to make it worth while. I love not having seamed backings!

  16. 21


    In the past I have been a strict matcher when it comes to backing, probably because all the quilts I have made were gifts. Now that I have a lot of PhDs that are so old, I will have to figure something else out. However these PhDs are also gifts, but I also want to use up my stash. Torn, the strict matcher is fighting real hard right now.

  17. 22

    Diane says

    When I first started quilting I used muslin for the backing since that is what I thought I was supposed to do. It’s what Granny did so I did it too. Now I don’t always use muslin but I do not use $10 a yard fabric for the back unless it is for a small baby or toddler quilt. I just can’t bring myself to spend $50 or $60 or more just on the back. If I can’t find anything I like in the price range I want I will dye something. Very cost effective.

    I do like the green apples. Plus I like to use fabrc that makes me smile even if it doesn’t always “go” with anything else.

  18. 24


    I love the apple fabric. Matching front to back? sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes both. My last quilt was red and white, and by the time I finished, I wanted to be rid of my red and white prints! (Not red prints. Not white prints. Red and white prints.) So I cut them into strips and pieces, and that nearly exhausted the r/w stash. Just depends!

  19. 26


    When I first started quilting (many moons ago), I used quilting fabric, so that the back would coordinate with the front. Then I began to use pieced backs to use up odd pieces and/or extra blocks.

    As the price of quilting fabric increased, I found that I was essentially paying double for my quilts since I figure that the amount of fabric used on the back is about the same as what is used on the front! Sad to say, I just can’t afford that sort of luxury any longer.

    I now use extra wide muslin for my backings. I have found that I reaped some unexpected benefits … the muslin becomes softer with washings; the extra wide width means, of course, no seams! yay!!; the quilting designs show up wonderfully on the solid muslin, thus requiring me to be more careful and considerate in my quilting. I usually wait until I get a substantial discount coupon and then buy an entire bolt. The cost per yard goes down dramatically.

  20. 29

    Mary says

    I do piece backs and do try somewhat to coordinate with the front but there are times that I use something completely different like I did with my UFO for this month.

  21. 30


    I am not to picky about backs but I try to stay with in season. If I make Halloween quilt I try to stay with Halloween backing and not Christmas for Valentine. I buy all the bolt if on sale for a good price and use it, sometimes I am sad when I run out of a favorite backing. I like the apple, I certainly would have purchased it.

  22. 32


    Since my grandma and mom owned a fabric store in the 60’s and 70’s, I have a stash of ugly fabric. When they closed their doors, they took every stitch of their fabric home. A few years ago I went through everything a choose quite a but that would be suitable for my ugly backing stash. I use it mainly for wall hangings and table runners. I also found a huge stash of linen sheets that I had used for larger quilts. (That’s all gone now, so sad!) Just last year I had to start buying fabric for backing. I had a little sticker shock on my cost per quilt when I had to add that in!

  23. 33

    Gail says

    Humm, there’s a scrappy quilt under that scrappy fabric. Is this a clue as to what the “quilt I love but can’t show” looks like??? LOL (no need to reply, I’m just enjoying the guessing game). As always thanks for great blog posts.

  24. 34


    When it comes to backing, sometimes I want something that is different than the front as long it doesn’t clash with the binding. For example, for my niece’s Xmas quilt the top was all contemporary bright pinks and baby blues with a baby blue polka dot binding. I put a romantic yellow with delicate small birds and flower bouquets on the back. Love changing the mood from top to back.