2021 Mystery Quilt Along Month 9

Kimberlee Tanner

How to Make a Quilt Back

The quilt top for our free mystery quilt along is done, but it's not a quilt yet! This month we are working on making a quilt back and getting our quilt sandwiched and ready for quilting.


How Much Fabric Do I Need for My Quilt Back?

Before we can figure out how much fabric we need, we need to decide what kind of fabric you are using! There are two main options here (we'll talk about scrappy backs in little bit).

Wide Back Quilting Fabric

First, there are wide back fabrics. These are ideal for quilt backs as they are usually 108" wide. This fits most quilts and means that you don't have any seams to sew! The only downside is that there are not as many prints available and not all quilt shops carry them. If you can find one that matches your top and you like, we love using wide backs. They make creating your quilt backing very easy.

When calculating the yardage you need, first add a few inches to your finished quilt top. If you are having it longarmed, check with your quilter to determine exactly how much extra fabric they need. The general rule is 4-5 inches for domestic quilting, and 6-8 for longarm quilting.

Our quilt is roughly 60x72", so for a domestic machine, we want our backing to be about 65x79". When in doubt, always allow extra. It's much easier than fretting over backing that doesn't quite reach. 

Since the longest measurement fits on the 108" of fabric, you simply need 65" of width. Keeping it simple, order 2 yards. As a bonus, you'll probably have enough leftover to bind it!

Regular Quilting Cotton

The next option and one we use the most, is to simply use regular 40" quilting cotton. This means we only need 1 seam (unless your quilt is queen sized or bigger) and we can match the fabric to your quilt top perfectly. You also have an abundance of options available and it's easy to find.

To determine how much fabric you'll need, we are going to use the same measurements as before. I want my backing to be at least 65x79". Since I know that when I sew two widths of fabric together I'll have about 80" of length, I just need to accommodate the 65" width. Since we are sewing two pieces together, we need to buy 65" of length twice, meaning we'll want 130" of fabric. This is about 3 2/3 yards. You can then cut your two pieces as needed.

If your longest side is bigger than 80", use the 80" for your short side and buy enough fabric to double the longest side.

Scrappy Quilt Backs

You can also use scraps and piece together your quilt back. If you choose this method, we recommend cutting and measuring your scraps to match before sewing them together (for example, cut them into 25" squares, then sew). If you simply start sewing and trimming afterwards, you can end up with extra fabric in your pieces as the fabric stretches. This makes it so you don't have a square backing and can cause tucks and puckers in your backing that are a pain to deal with. It's very similar to when you end up with wavy borders.

What Batting Should I Use?

The best answer to this is your favorite kind! If you are new to quilting, a Cotton/Poly Blend or 100% cotton batting is probably the easiest to find. They are stocked at most quilt shops in an array of sizes or available by the yard. You will need enough to give a few extra inches around the outside of your quilt top. Plan to get the same amount as your backing and you'll be set.

If buying by the yard, look for batting that is 90" wide, then you'll just need 2 yards. If buying packaged batting, you'll likely want a twin sized.

If you want to get more information on batting and all the different kinds, head to our blog post: What Batting Should I Use?

Basting Your Quilt Sandwich

Now that you have your quilt back and batting, it's time to make your quilt sandwich. You can lay it out on the floor or a big table. If you have a big design wall, you can also do it vertically (we don't have a video for that yet, but do a quick google search if you want more info).

Our favorite method is using pool noodles on our table. This method is quick and easy and saves us from having to bend over.

Pool Noodle Basting

Spray basting is really easy, but can make things sticky. If spraying inside, use a light touch and make sure to wipe surfaces off when you are done. You can also take your backing and top outside to spray, then bring them in to put them together. 

If you are using pins, just be mindful of the surface you are pinning on. If you are on hardwood floors or a table, place your cutting mat under where you are pinning to avoid scratching your surface. Place your pins about every 4".

If you have any questions about getting your quilt backing or basting your top, please let us know! We will come back next month and talk all about quilting. We'll go through coming up with a quilting plan and I'm going to show you how I move the quilt through the sewing machine. We'll then have a couple months to actually quilt your quilt. See you soon!

Happy Quilting!

Kimie and Missy

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