Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The beauty of Wide Backings

Thank you to the Chattanooga Creative Arms machine quilters group and Bernina Sew-N-Quilt Studio for allowing me to co-host a fabric party featuring 108" wide backing fabrics.
Machine quilters examine Blank Quilting 108" wide backing fabrics.
The Creative Arms group is comprised of machine quilters in the Chattanooga area. They are quite diverse in their quilting methods as a show of hands indicated those attending the fabric party quilted using long-arms, mid-arms, sit-down quilting machines, as well as domestic sewing machines—for both free-motion work and with a walking foot.
Fabric samples of wide backings and quilted samples were available
for attendees to see, touch and feel.
Before we got to the "fabric caressing" part of the program, I opened the floor to a discussion about the beauty and advantages of using wide backings for quilts. In addition to:
  • don't have to piece, 
  • easy to baste and load, and 
  • more economical than 44/45 fabrics, 
here's what this group of seasoned quilters had to say:
  • grain direction is more stable (than pieced backs),
  • don't need to worry about keeping horizontal seams on the back straight/parallel while quilting and advancing the quilt,
  • vertical seams create an increasingly bigger "mountain" in the quilt as it is rolled, making quilting difficult,
  • wide backings are square, so are easier to load and quilt,
  • makes the machine quilter's job easier and more productive,
  • a good solution for the [admitted] "lazy" quilter who doesn't like to piece or wrestle with the backing.
Don't you just love having these kinds of discussions with experienced quilters? As someone who machine quilts by "pushing" the quilt sandwich beneath the needle (yep, I'm a pusher), it was interesting to hear how the other half (the "drivers" that drive the needle over the quilt sandwich) works. It was a great exchange of ideas! And, I'll share other ideas for using wide backings in a future post.
TQS BOM appliquéd and machine quilted by Margo Clabo.
The backdrop for the meeting was just as appealing as the lively discussion. Check out these exquisite quilts that currently hang in Bernina Sew-N-Quilt. These pieced and appliqué beauties were made and machine quilted by Margo Clabo. Look familiar? If you are a member of The Quilt Show (TQS), you may remember these as previous BOM programs. Margo's work is absolutely fabulous!
TQS Block of the Month quilt by Margo Clabo.
Star quilt done in neutrals by Margo Clabo.
Margo's redwork star quilt.
And, of course the Show and Tell by the Creative Arms members is always enjoyable and inspiring.
An appliqué quilt in progress.
Attendees offered suggestions for machine quilting background patterns.
A star quilt made with Jinny Beyer fabrics.
Are you convinced on the benefits of using wide backings? If not, here is the math for an average queen size quilt:
44"/45" fabric: 8 yards x $11.50 = $92
108" fabric: 3.25 yards x $18 = $58.90
Savings of $33.50
(or an extra 2.91 yards of 45" fabric!)
A savings of $33.50 or nearly 3 yards of extra 45" fabric!
The numbers do tell!


  1. Thanks for a fun, informative program Veronica! Looking forward to getting my wide backs!

    1. Great to see you again, Margo! Your work is amazing and I can't wait to see your next quilt using the new wide backing fabric.

  2. Hi! I came upon your blog via your comment on this post:

    You said you'd be interested in what kinds of backings people would be interested in. I'm a "modern" quilter (whatever that means) and work mostly with bright, clear color. My preferred backings would be versatile, able to work with many different fabric lines. So, basics like dots, stripes, plaids, crosshatch, gingham, zigzag, etc, in a rainbow of colors and white would be awesome. Also a text print would go over well I think. Ikea has a print with a white background and black text spelling out numbers (nineteen, twenty, seven, twelve, etc) that seems to sell pretty well in the modern quilt community. It's kind of large scale and works well for a back, except it's 44" wide and pretty thin. So yeah, I think a text based print would work well as a backing. Also, playing with scale of print would be nice. A quilt back is a large canvas, so have fun with it!

    1. Thanks for your comment and ideas for wide back prints. I especially like geometrics and text, too

  3. Why don't they make wide backing a smidge larger to accommodate long-arm quilting of king size quilts? If I am making a king size quilt, I will still have to sew on leaders to make the backing to 112x112 :-\

    1. There are some wide backings that are 120" wide. Fabric companies have to find a mill that has equipment that will accommodate wider widths.

  4. Hello if I need 15 yards For a project I am working on for front and back in 44" what would I need in the 108" thank you

  5. I make a lot of throw and twin size quilts always have them quilted for me. I love wide flannel backing for us Northerners- adds a nice bit of cozy so would like to see more variety in wide flannel backings.

  6. I am looking for a yardabe conversion chart for 45 inch to 108 inch.


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