Learn to make a quilt backing!
This is the next tutorial in our Beginning Quilt Series. The first tutorials taught how to cut and piece a quilt top.
Once the quilt top is complete, it is time to prepare a backing fabric for the quilt.
What material is best for the backing of a quilt?
100% cotton quilting fabric is used most often as the quilt backing. This quality quilting cotton will hold its shape despite being washed multiple times.
Beginners and advanced quilters alike find cotton quilting fabric to their liking. It is an easy fabric to work with and can be purchased quite easily.
Can you use any fabric as a quilt backing?
As mentioned above,100% cotton quilting fabric is most often used as quilt backing, but some quilters choose to use bed sheets, fleece, or linen. Flannel sheets make for a soft and warm quilt backing.
A quilt is made of three layers and is sometimes called a quilt sandwich at this stage. The layers of the quilt are the quilt top, the batting, and the backing. Once the quilt sandwich has been made, it will be pinned or basted together before quilting.
It is important that the quilt backing (and batting) be cut larger than the quilt top. Extra backing fabric is needed to allow for fabric taken up when smoothing out the quilt top to ready it for pinning or basting into a quilt sandwich.
It is possible to end up with a backing piece that is too small when smoothing the quilt top and during the quilting process. By cutting the quilt backing larger, this ensures that there will be enough backing fabric for the quilt.
After quilting, the quilt backing will be trimmed down to the same size as the quilt top. We have a tutorial showing how to square a quilt, which is trimming these fabrics to the same size.
How much fabric do I need for a quilt backing?
For a small miniature quilt or baby quilt, the backing should be 1-2" larger on all sides. This means that the quilt backing fabric will be at least 2-4" wider and taller than the quilt top.
For a larger quilt, such as a twin quilt or larger, the quilt backing should extend beyond the quilt top by about 4" on all sides.
This means that the quilt backing will be at least 8" wider and taller than the quilt top for quilts larger than a baby quilt.
For a baby quilt or small wall hanging, it may be possible to find a single piece of fabric that is large enough to meet the criteria for the quilt backing.
It is even possible that for larger quilts, some fabrics can be found that are cut larger specifically for quilt backings.
However, if you don't have a piece of fabric that is large enough for the quilt backing, separate pieces of fabric can be sewn together to create a quilt backing that is large enough.
Watch this video and follow the written directions below to learn how to make a backing for your quilt.
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Instructions for making a quilt backing
what you need to make a backing for your quilt
- Quilt top
- Pieces of fabric that coordinate with the quilt top
- Cutting mat
- Rotary cutter
- Quilter's ruler
- Sewing machine
- Ironing board
step 1: Prepare the backing fabric pieces
Because the quilt backing will need to be cut larger than the quilt top, lay the quilt top on the cutting surface as a reference. Measure the sides of the quilt top using the quilt ruler or cutting mat.
Be sure to cut the salvages off of the backing fabrics if there are any. The selvage is woven tighter and is sometimes a different weight which can cause the fabric to pucker.
Lay each piece to be used for the pieced backing on the cutting mat. Using the rotary cutter and ruler, cut the coordinating fabrics 4" longer than the sides of the quilt top.
Make sure that the fabrics for the quilt backing will be 4" longer than the top once they are sewn together.
Keep in mind that the backing fabrics can be sewn together vertically or horizontally.
How much bigger should your quilt backing be? The backing fabric for the quilt should be 1-2" larger on all sides when making a baby quilt.
For twin, queen and king size quilts, the quilt backing fabric should be approximately 4" larger on all sides.
step 2: Sew the quilt backing fabrics together
Once the pieces to be used for the quilt backing are cut to size, take them to the sewing machine.
Using a 1/2" seam allowance, sew each of the quilt backing pieces together.
Step 3: Iron the seams
Once the pieces of the quilt backing have been sewn together, the seams must be ironed. Iron the seams either open or to one side (the choice is yours).
Next, iron the entire quilt backing to make it smooth and ready to be sandwiched together with the quilt top and batting.
Now the quilt backing is complete! If you'd like to try a scrappy quilt backing, check out our page showing how to Create a Scrappy Quilt Backing for a Wall Hanging, Table Runner or Quilt
The next tutorial in the Beginning Quilt Series gives instructions on how to layer and pin baste. Use this link to find the next tutorial in the series: Prepare your quilt for quilting
If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video
comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.
LEARN TO QUILT SERIES
This series is wonderful for new sewers to learn how to make their first quilt!!
OTHER QUILTING TECHNIQUES
Half Square Triangles: How to make Half Square Triangles
Paper Piecing: How to Paper Piece a Quilt Block
Binding A Quilt: How to Add Binding to A Quilt (No Hand Sewing)
String Piecing: Learn String Piecing on Foundation Paper
Tying A Quilt: Learn How to Hand Tie A Quilt