I love wide backs

Ever since I did a presentation on wide quilt backings to the Chattanooga Creative Arms machine quilters group, I have been smitten by the ease and economics of using cotton wide backing fabrics for my quilts—even smaller wall hangings and lap quilts.
Wide backings are easy to use and economical.
The Creative Arms group was comprised of machine quilters that use long-arms, mid-arms, sit-down and domestic sewing machines to quilt their quilts. So, the group was a combination of quilters that guide the needle over a quilt sandwich mounted on their machine (the drivers), and those that move the quilt sandwich under a stationery needle (the pushers). I opened the floor and asked these quilters what they liked about wide backings, and they also offered other uses for this 108" or wider fabric.

Why use a wide backing?
  • don't have to piece the back—a time-saver.
  • don't have to match large motifs, stripes or patterns to make the back look like a continuous piece of fabric as when piecing 44/45" fabrics for a back.
  • easier to baste and load on a long arm machine.
  • grain direction is more stable (than pieced backs).
  • don't need to worry about keeping horizontal seams on the back straight and parallel while quilting and advancing the quilt.
  • no "excess bulk" issues with seams on the quilt back that may coincide with seams on the quilt top.
  • vertical seams on a pieced back can create an increasingly bigger "mountain" in the quilt as it is rolled, making quilting more difficult.
  • wide backings are square, so they 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 or have the time to piece and wrestle with two lengths of 44/45" fabric.
  • a flannel wide backing will keep the quilt from sliding off the bed.
Ideas and uses for wide backings:
  • long borders and bindings
  • the trimmings can be used for bindings and scrappy quilts
  • two baby quilts or small charity quilts can be quilted side-by-side at the same time (on a long arm)
  • can quilt 8 placemats side-by-side at the same time (on a long arm)
  • bed skirts and dust ruffles
  • flannel bed sheets (think flannel wide backs)
  • table cloths (wouldn't 108" metallics for the holidays and parties be festive?)
  • duvet covers
  • slip covers
  • curtains and drapery linings
  • shower curtains
  • dividers and table skirts at trade shows, buffets and business meetings
  • backdrops for photo shoots and stage performances
  • a canopy or tent top for birthday parties and other outside events
  • sleeves (rod pockets) to hang your quilts
  • flannel design wall (every quilter should have one!)
  • covers for soundproofing panels
  • fitting muslins (slopers) before sewing garments with your fashion fabrics
Wide Back Economics
[See another post on Wide Back Math is here]
We all want our dollars to go farther, and may gasp at the sticker price of $15 to $22 for a wide backing. Au contraire, mes amis! Purchasing a 108" wide backing for your quilt can be more economical than piecing 44/45" fabrics. Here is the math for and average queen size quilt [in 2015]:

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!]
Calculate the cost savings for using a 108" or 110" wide backing for your quilt.

Or calculate by the square inch: 
     1 yard = 36" x 44" = 1584" divided into $11.50/yard = .0072
     wide backing: 1 yard = 36" x 108" = 3888" divided into $18/yard = .0046

Even if you find 45" fabric on sale, do the math to find out. The numbers will tell!

Click here for another blog post on "Wide Back Math."

If you have other ideas for using these versatile wide cotton fabrics, leave me a comment and I will add it to the list. Thanks!
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