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Don’t Overlook the Importance of A Quality Backing

making-tomorrows-heirlooms-todayThere are as many creative ideas for backs as there are for the tops. Some customers prefer to piece their back from the coordinating fabrics used in their quilt top. Some enjoy the challenge of piecing the back from a Hodge Podge of scraps or leftover blocks. Still others prefer the ease of wide backings that do not need to be pieced at all. Regardless of your chosen backing please take time to review the FAQ to assure a quality outcome.



Do You Offer Wide Back Fabrics?

Yes, we carry wide back fabrics for your convenience. We keep in stock quality quilter’s muslin backing 106″ wide in the natural and cream colors as well as beautiful 108” wide tone on tones in various colors, contact us for current colors in stock. We are pleased to be associated with Sew Batik, makers of quality wide back batiks. Actual samples of their fabric collection is available for your review in our studio. Their batiks quilt up beautifully! We will place a special order for you or you may order online directly with Sew Batik and use our associate code LA-1176 .

What About Using a Sheet For My Backing?

Occasionally customers inquire about using a readymade sheet for their backing. There are numerous issues involved with sheets (one being the tight weave, or high thread count) therefore the quality of the quilting (tension) cannot be assured. However, if you really want to use a sheet please make sure it has been washed several times, without fabric softener. Better yet, save it for another use…just sayin…

May I use Flannel or Fleece?

We have used both with success, the quilting texture is fabulous. However, a word of caution with flannel – for best results we have found the need to prewash several times due to its high tendency to shrink differently than quilter’s cotton fabrics.

What Else Should Be Considered In Choosing My Backing Fabric?

When choosing your backing fabric please take into consideration that the colors of the top thread will be the same as the color of the bottom thread.

In other words, if you have a variegated purple thread on top there will be purple thread on the bottom. If your back is white, well then, it’s going to have lots of pretty purple thread on the back! For this reason many prefer a “busy” back to avoid dark color threads on light fabric or light color thread on dark fabric. If several values of thread color will be used on the top it would be best to choose a fabric of mixed values for the back instead of a solid. However, the choice is truly yours.

How Big Does the Backing Need to Be?

The backing must be 8 inches longer and 8 inches wider than your quilt top.

Larger is acceptable. Smaller is a problem. In other words, if your top measures 70 x 90 then your backing should measure 78 x 98 after it has been properly squared.

Why you ask?

Longarm quilting differs from domestic or home sewing machine quilting in the loading and basting process – the top and bottom are attached to rollers while the sides are held taunt with side clamps. Nothing is worse that the oops of hitting the side clamps causing a design change or running out of backing before running out of the quilt top, trust me. To insure that the quilt top can be quilted completely to the edges please please make sure your backing is the proper size.

If piecing the back please make sure the pieces you use are square and on grain before attaching to other pieces, with all selvage edges removed. Use a large seam allowance (1/2 to 5/8) and press the seams open.

Why Should I Be Concerned About The Back Being Flat?

bad-backThe backing MUST lay flat and be square for proper loading to avoid quilting puckers in the backing.

The same care in piecing the top applies to piecing the back to avoid unnecessary fullness and potential puckers. Square a back just like you square up a fat quarter or piece of fabric prior to rotary cutting for piecing.

What's All The Talk About Squaring A Back?

squaring-the-backThe success of longarm quilting relies on several key issues, one being that the backing is square for proper loading and large enough to quilt the top edge to edge.

Do take into consideration when purchasing your fabric and constructing your backing that you may possibly loose several inches in the squaring process – for this reason plan on the back starting out much larger than the intended final result of 8 inches larger in the width and 8 inches larger in the length.

No matter how hard you try, if you cut two lengths of fabric, or more, to piece a back it WILL need to be squared, even if you “tear on grain” the finished product will not be square. The best way to piece two lengths of fabric is very similar to attaching borders – by pinning – review the border tutorial for a refresher.

Even 108″ wide fabric must be properly squared prior to loading on the longarm.

If using wide back fabrics be sure to purchase at least a 1/3 of a yard more than you think you need to allow for squaring up. It has been my experience, both working in a quilt shop and carrying bolts of wide back fabric in my studio, that the wider fabric has a tendency NOT to be wound well on the bolt and is difficult to cut precisely through all the folds. Personally, I always tear wide back fabric off the bolt – discuss the pros and cons with your quilt shop when purchasing, just remember, it’s better to have too much fabric than not enough.

How Do I Do This, I've Never Squared A Back Before?

Squaring a back is no different than squaring a fat quarter for rotary strip cutting, just larger!

Find the center of the back lengthwise, by folding in half. Carefully smooth the fabric and fold again as necessary to fit on your cutting table. You will quickly notice that the fabric does not line up when it is smoothed out (rarely do the corners match). These rough edges need to be tamed with a rotary cutter. Repeat this procedure for the other side.

Next fold the backing widthwise and repeat the above process on each of the width sides. Ta-da, now you have a square back! Now press the seams once again for good measure, trim any loose threads, give it a once over with the iron and you are ready to bring it in along with your top for quilting! And you saved a service charge.

Quilts ‘N Kaboodle charges an additional fee to square your backing.

Will You Help Me Square My Back?

Quilts ‘N Kaboodle charges an additional fee to square your backing. However, we do believe in teachable moments and will gladly assist you the first time, without charge, in the process of squaring up your backing during your drop off appointment. See one, do one!



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