Thursday, June 11, 2015

108" wide quilt backings: Have you done the math?

On my recent fabric rep travels, the topic of 108" wide quilt backings came up several times in conversation. For the most part, shop owners indicate their customer base falls into three camps:
  • "I love using a wide back for my quilts because…" 
  • "Oooh! It's how much a yard??"
  • "Wide whats?"
Westrade Textiles offer 110" wide backings.
Since discovering wide backings a few years ago myself, and doing a presentation for a local machine quilters group, I have become enlightened on the ease, beauty, and efficiency—as well as the cost effectivenessof using a wide fabric for the backing on my quilts. Because of my affinity for these 108" or 110" fabrics, I've been asked to write a guest blog post on the Fort Worth Fabric Studio blog—click here to read it. Another guest blog post is here but the photo links are broken.

One of my reasons du jour for liking wide backs is that there is no distracting seam line to interfere with the flow, harmony and continuity of the quilting design on the back. If you peruse my blog archives, you'll notice I use a lot of wide backings in the photos of my free-motion quilting. Here is one example.
Free-motion quilting on Sparkle 108" (color: java).
See what I mean? No distracting seam line.

For those that are already "sold" on wide backings (Camp #1), thanks for tooting the wide back horn! You and quilters like you have contributed ideas to my "Using 108" Wide Quilt Backs" page.

For those who are muttering "Wide whats?" to themselves (Camp #3), I invite you to read this same page to learn more about the whys and wherefores of using wide backings. Also talk to the good folks at YLQS [your local quilt shop] or your longarm quilting service provider. Or bring up the topic up with your quilting buddies or at the next guild meeting. All these quilters will happily offer their insights.

And to those in the "Oooh. They cost how much?" camp (Camp #2), let's review a little wide back math…

Wide Back Math
For a yard of 108" wide backing fabric there are: 108" x 36" = 3888 sq. in.
For a yard 44/45" fabric there are: 44" x 36" = 1584 sq. in.

A 108" wide backing at $17.99/yard ÷ 3888 sq. in. = $.0046 per sq. in.
A 44/45" fabric at $11.50/yard ÷ 1584 sq. in. = $.0072 per sq. in.

Another way to look at this…
Imagine a full size quilt top that's 70" x 90". You'll need a backing that is 80" x 100" (adding 5" extra all around).

108" wide back: 2.25 yards x $17.99/yard = $40.47
44/45" fabric: 5.75 yards x $11.50/yard = $66.13

$66.13 - $40.47 = $27.21    Savings = $25.66
or almost 2.25 extra yards of 44/45" fabric!

Fabric costs in your area may vary, but all things being equal, you will find a savings using a wide backing on your quilt. In this example, you'd have to find a 44/45" fabric ON SALE at 40% off, or $7/yard to break even… but you'd still have to piece the back. How much is your time worth?

If you'd like to see layout diagrams for various quilt sizes on a wide backing, visit Brenda's 2013 blogpost, "All About 108" Wide Backing Fabric for Quilts" at Just a Bit Frayed blog.

So, Attention Quilters! Unless you are piecing your quilt back for a reason, investigate those 108" wide backing fabrics at YLQS. You could save yourself a nice chunk of cash! Leave a Comment and let me know what kinds of patterns/prints/colors you like to use for quilt backings and I'll pass along your requests to my companies.

In the case of quilting, going wide can be a thing of beauty… and good economics.
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