Now that you have finished the front of the quilt, let’s talk about the back of the quilt and backing fabric. Making a beautiful quilt is not just about the quilt top, the backing is equally important to complete your masterpiece. If you’re a beginner quilter, you might be looking for super simple pieced quilt backing ideas that are also easy to execute and visually appealing. In this post, we’ll explore a variety of options ranging from simple designs to scrappy patterns and creative techniques, ensuring that your quilt back is as stunning as the front.
Quilt Backing Ideas
Today we are going to talk about several quilt backing ideas so you can try one of these on your next quilt project! I’m going to show you the backs of my quilts to give you some ideas of creative, simple and scrappy quilt backing ideas. Then I’m going to show you all the favorite wide back fabrics and my go to pieced quilt backing that is so simple but adds the perfect touch to the quilt. Finally we will go over everything you ever wanted to know about backing fabrics. What is backing fabric, types of backing fabrics, pieced backings and when to use pieced versus basic backing fabric.
Machine Straight Line Quilting
Let’s face it, when you are new to quilting you will be using your domestic sewing machine. Most likely, your quilting design will be straight lines going both directions on the front of your quilt. Beginners usually follow the seam lines in the quilt top for their straight line quilt design. This is how all first quilts are normally quilted on a sewing machine. Here is a table runner I made that was advanced for me as a beginner, patchwork designs on both sides. These are 8 point star point blocks, the centers are 9 patch blocks. It’s really hard to make out because my fabric choices were not the best. Still trying to figure out how low volume prints worked, which they didn’t for these star blocks but oh well. You have to start somewhere!
Pro tip: If you are straight line quilting, you may want to chose a quilt design that will work on both sides of the quilt (front and back). This is especially true if you are making different patchwork designs on both sides. If you follow the seam lines on the front of the quilt, the back may not look too hot. See my example of that below.
Machine Free Motion Quilting
Most domestic sewing machines also allow you to free motion quilt. The machine manual will let you know but if it has a lever to raise and lower the feed dogs, then it can free motion quilt. You will need to purchase the attachment for your sewing machine brand. Once you learn how to free motion quilt, you won’t be restricted to pieced patchwork patterns on the back of your quilt. Based on your quilt design, the front of the quilt and the back of the quilt will look equally stunning once quilted.
Quilt Backing Ideas – What is Quilt Backing
What is Backing Fabric
First thing we should cover is what is backing fabric. Quilt backing fabric is the layer of fabric that forms the back of a quilt. In a quilt, there are typically three main layers: the quilt top, which is the decorative and often intricate part of the quilt, the batting (or wadding), which provides insulation and thickness, and the quilt backing fabric, which is the bottom layer that encases the batting.
Here’s a breakdown of each layer:
- Quilt Top: The quilt top is the topmost layer of the quilt and is usually made of various pieces of fabric sewn together into a specific design or pattern. Quilters often use different techniques like patchwork, appliqué, or embroidery to create visually appealing designs on the quilt top. Pro Tip: Use a design wall to layout your fabric pieces, half square triangles or quilt blocks before you sew everything together.
- Batting (Wadding): The batting is the middle layer of the quilt. It provides insulation, warmth, and thickness to the quilt. Batting comes in various materials, such as cotton, polyester, wool, or blends of these fibers. The choice of batting affects the quilt’s warmth, weight, and drape.
- Quilt Backing Fabric: The quilt backing fabric is the bottom layer of the quilt sandwich. It is a single, large piece of fabric that is attached to the quilt top and batting to enclose the quilt’s structure. The backing fabric can be made from various materials, but cotton is the most commonly used fabric due to its durability, softness, and ease of quilting. The backing fabric is usually plain or has a simple pattern because it serves as the background for the quilt design. The perfect backing fabric will always tie the front of your quilt to the back of your quilt.
Pro Tip: For your first quilt, use wide back fabrics and preferably in a print not a solid. Why? Wide fabric doesn’t need to be pieced together in order for it to be wide enough to cover the quilt top. Also, prints will hide your quilt lines if they get wonky. As you practice (and get better) then you can use solid fabric for your next queen-sized quilt! Or whatever size large quilt you are working on.
Key Characteristics of Quilt Backing Fabric:
- Width: Quilt backing fabric is often manufactured in wider widths, commonly 108 inches wide, to accommodate the larger size of quilts, especially queen size and king size quilts. This width reduces the need for piecing together multiple fabric panels for the backing.
- Durability: The backing fabric needs to be durable to withstand wear and tear, especially if the quilt is meant for regular use and washing. High-quality cotton fabrics are preferred for their strength and longevity.
- Color and Design: While quilt backing fabric is typically plain or has a subtle pattern, the choice of color and design can still influence the overall appearance of the quilt. Quilters often select backing fabric that complements the colors and themes of the quilt top, creating a harmonious look.
- Preparation: Quilt backing fabric should be prewashed and ironed before attaching it to the quilt top to prevent any shrinkage or distortion after quilting.
In summary, quilt backing fabric is the sturdy, wide piece of fabric that forms the bottom layer of a quilt, enclosing the batting and quilt top. Its choice is crucial for the quilt’s durability, appearance, and overall quality.
Types of Backing Fabric – Quilt Backing Ideas
There are various types of fabrics that can be used as quilt backings, each with its own characteristics and suitability for different types of quilts. Here are some common types of fabric backings used in quilting:
1. Cotton Fabric:
- Description: Cotton fabric is the most popular choice for quilt backings. It’s durable, breathable, and soft, making it comfortable for both quilting and snuggling.
- Suitable for: Cotton fabric backings are suitable for all types of quilts, from small projects to large bed quilts.
- Advantages: Wide variety of colors and prints, easy to work with, readily available.
2. Flannel Fabric:
- Description: Flannel is a soft, brushed cotton fabric that has a slightly fuzzy surface. It’s warm and cozy, making it ideal for quilts meant for colder weather.
- Suitable for: Great for quilts, especially those meant for fall and winter. Provides extra warmth and comfort.
- Advantages: Soft texture, excellent for snuggling, adds warmth to the quilt.
3. Minky Fabric:
- Description: Minky is a plush, microfiber fabric that is incredibly soft and smooth. It has a luxurious feel and is often used for baby blankets and cozy quilts.
- Suitable for: Ideal for baby blankets, throws, and quilts meant for cuddling. Also popular for quilt backings on children’s quilts.
- Advantages: Extremely soft, luxurious, adds a high-end feel to the quilt.
4. Batik Fabric:
- Description: Batik fabrics are made using a wax-resist dyeing technique. They often feature vibrant colors and intricate designs.
- Suitable for: Great for adding a touch of artistic flair to quilts. Suitable for wall hangings and art quilts.
- Advantages: Unique designs, rich colors, adds visual interest to the quilt.
5. Linen Fabric:
- Description: Linen is a strong and durable fabric made from the flax plant. It has a textured surface and becomes softer with each wash.
- Suitable for: Suitable for quilts with a rustic or vintage aesthetic. Provides a natural, organic look.
- Advantages: Natural appearance, becomes softer over time, adds texture to the quilt.
When choosing a fabric backing, consider the quilt’s purpose, the desired comfort level, and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve. Each type of fabric has its unique qualities, allowing you to create quilts with various textures, warmth, and visual appeal.
Backing Types & How to Measure – Quilt Backing Ideas
Quilt Backing Types
Quilt backing fabrics typically come in various widths, and the width of the fabric is an essential consideration when choosing backing fabric for your quilt. The width options commonly available in quilt backing fabrics include:
- Standard Widths: Standard quilting cotton fabrics are often 42 to 44 inches wide. While these widths are suitable for smaller quilts, they might not be wide enough for larger quilts without having to piece the backing fabric.
- Wide Backing Fabrics: To accommodate larger quilts, there are fabrics specifically manufactured as wide quilt backings. These wide backing fabrics come in widths of 90 inches, 108 inches, or even 118 inches. Wide backing fabrics are designed to be wide enough to cover the back of most quilts, eliminating the need for piecing the backing fabric for quilts of standard or slightly larger sizes.
- Extra Wide Fabrics: In addition to the wide backing fabrics, there are extra-wide fabrics that can be as wide as 120 inches or more. These fabrics are especially useful for very large quilts, like king-size quilts, where standard-width fabrics would require extensive piecing.
Pro Tip: Wide Backing Fabric for throws, twin, queen or king size quilts is the best choice but can be hard to find and can add up fast! Go to your local craft store that sells fabric at least once every other month so you know the fabrics they carry. Wide backing has a very limited selection at the craft stores but see if you like any and watch for sales. Craft stores have 40, 50 and sometimes 60% off a regular priced item every couple of months making this purchase very affordable. One cut of fabric off the bolt is considered one item and is good for an entire bolt.
Silvers and dark gray were my go to picks when available because they went with almost anything. Below is wide backing fabric that was silver with little white dots that I got at the craft store on sale. See how well it worked with this Bow Tie Quilt that was made by me for my dog Rose (see below front and back)?
For more detail information on all things fabric, check out Best Fabric for Quilting – How to Shop Like a Pro!
Quilt Backing Ideas – Measure Your Quilt
When purchasing quilt backing fabric, it’s essential to know the dimensions of your quilt top and the width of the fabric you’re considering. Make sure to add extra inches on all sides of your quilt top to allow for trimming and quilting.
If you’re working with a standard-width fabric for a larger quilt, you’ll need to piece the backing together. This involves sewing multiple fabric panels together to achieve the required width and length for your quilt. When piecing quilt backing, be mindful of aligning the patterns and seams for a polished look.
Always check the specifications and width of the fabric you’re purchasing, and consult with the quilt shop staff or read product descriptions online to ensure you’re getting a fabric width suitable for your specific quilt project.
Remember, the choice of backing fabric not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also impacts the quilt’s durability and functionality. By selecting the right backing fabric tailored to the specific project, you can enhance the overall quality and usability of your quilts.
Pieced Quilt Backing Ideas
There are no rules when it comes to your quilt backing. Just keep in mind your quilting skills, your budget, the quilt design and if it that design will look good on both sides of your quilt.
Wide Backing Solid or Prints
Here is a pieced backing with one print backing fabric. They didn’t sell this in wide widths, no problem. Measure the longest side of the quilt and double it to fit your throws. Sew those two pieces together and trim away the excess. Quilt backing should be 4 inches wider than your quilt top on all sides. Anything left is extra fabric which you can use for your binding or add to your fabric stash.
You can see in the photo above that the print is busy so you can’t really see my stitches but you DO SEE the quilt design. The quilt in the photo has been washed so that’s why it’s crinkly, just the way I like them!
Here is a simple patchwork table runner with muslin backing fabric. Again, perfect for showing off the quilt design but with the light muslin it’s easier to see the actual stitches so keep that in mind. (see below).
Baby blankets and other throws are a great way to use novelty print fabric as shown in The ABC Baby Quilt Free Pattern, check out that post for full tutorial and fabric used.
Simple Patchwork Piecing
Here’s a fun way to use leftover fabric from the front of your quilt to create a simple pieced patchwork back. In the picture below, I used leftover charm squares from the front of this table topper and just sewed them together and then into rows. Looks great and is super easy. It also makes the table topper reversible which is always a good thing.
Making a pieced quilt backing doesn’t have to be difficult, all you really need is two different fabrics and you can get creative. Here’s a table runner pieced quilt backing idea that I came up with on the fly. It’s more simple than the striped front of the quilt but it’s reversible. Allowing two different looks to one table runner. The quilting is done with quilt-as-you-go method and super simple.
My Favorite Simple Pieced Quilt Backing
By the time I get done with a large quilt, I just want to get it done. I don’t have a lot of energy to mess with the backing but this one is my favorite method to use to give my quilt that little extra something.
To make a unique backing, use two fabrics for the back of the quilt. One main backing fabric and one contrasting strip of fabric. You can play around with the width for the strip of fabric, it really depends on the quilt size. Larger quilt would get a wider strip than a smaller quilt or baby quilt.
This is my favorite way to do the back of my quilts. Especially if I’m not using wide fabric and need to join standard width fabric to make the backing wide I’ve used this method a lot and the results are subtle but so charming. It gives the quilt that extra touch and sends a simple quilt over the top! See some examples of the front and back of these quilts below:
The back of the quilt does not need to match the front of the quilt. If it’s a true scrappy quilt, you can use extra blocks, orphan blocks or left over blocks from other projects to the quilt backing. Build your quilt back in rows, using blocks that are trimmed to the same size or use solid fabric and piece the block in the strip. You could add the block in one of the corners but place it a little lower and a little back so you don’t trim away some of your block when it’s time to square up the quilt.
Pieced Fat Quarters
Have you ever bought a fat quarter bundle and are left with fabrics that you just haven’t used. You just need to start sewing them together to form your quilt back. This would look great on a larger quilt. You could cut the fat quarters into strips and sew then on an angle and then square up to create backing for smaller quilt projects too!
New quilters will always have 2.5″ charm squares left over. Start making a patchwork blocks by sewing your stash fabric together, chain piecing squares together, then making rows in a postage stamp design until you have enough to cover your quilt top. See example below:
Pieced Quilt Backing Ideas – BEGINNER QUILTING SUPPLIES
Here are some quilting supplies that are great for quilters that I use and highly recommend. For more info, check out Quilting Supplies for Beginners (Best Tools To Start).
- Rotary Mat Cutting Mat (Self-Healing Mat)
- 28 mm Rotary Cutter
- 28 mm Rotary Cutter Replacement Blades
- 45 mm Rotary Cutter with Sharp Blade (start with this one)
- 45 mm Rotary Cutter Replacement Blades (start with this one)
- 60 mm Rotary Cutter
- 60 mm Rotary Cutter Replacement Blades
- 5″ x 20″ Quilting Straight Line Ruler
- 4.5″ Quilting Square Ruler for half square triangles
- 12.5″ Quilting Square Ruler for quilt blocks
- Cut Resistant Gloves
- Straight Pins
- Sewing Thread
- Universal Sewing Needles
- Cotton Batting
- Sewing Machine Beginner (see my about me page for more info on sewing machines for beginners to the one I use today)
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.
SEW NIKKI RESOURCES – HOW TO’S AND FREE PATTERNS
- Learn How To Quilt: Beginner Quilting Guide
- Best Fabric for Quilting: How to Shop Like a Pro!
- Quilt As You Go Patterns: Table Runner Free Pattern
- Charm Square On Point Quilt Pattern & Tutorial
- Table Runner DIY – Simple Quilted Table Runner
- How to Make Heat Proof Recycled Denim Potholders
- Chevron Quilt Pattern – Make Easy Placemats Two Ways
- How to Bind a Quilt – Easy Single Fold Binding
- The ABC Baby Quilt Sewing Pattern (Free, Easy)
- How to Sandwich A Quilt Step-By-Step Tutorial
- How Wide To Cut Quilt Binding & Make Easy Strips
- Easy Quilt Patterns – How To Make Charm Square Quilt
- How to Machine Quilt With Walking Foot For Beginners
- How to Sew a Quilt Together – Quilting for Beginners
- Mini Quilt Patterns, TQC “July” Postcard Pattern Review
- Quilting Supplies for Beginners (Best Tools to Start)
- How To Cut Fabric For Quilting (Easy and Accurate)
- How to Make Stunningly Beautiful Log Cabin Quilt Block
- Quilting Tips For Beginners (10 Essential Tips)
- How To Make Quilt With Sashing and Cornerstones
- Quilt Blocks, The Nonsense Table Topper Review
- How To Be Successful and Spend Less – New Quilter Tips
- Quilt Patterns, “Positive Effect” Pattern Review
- How To Join Quilt Binding Ends, Beginner Series
ABOUT SEW NIKKI
If this is your first time stopping by, welcome! My name is Nikki. I’m a weekend quilter, have a super small sewing space and taught myself how to sew and quilt by watching YouTube videos! My blog has How-To’s, Free Patterns and Pattern Reviews. Read more about me here.
Remember, quilt backing is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your creativity. Don’t be afraid to mix and match fabrics, colors, and patterns. Whether you prefer a simple, classic look or a vibrant, scrappy design, the key is to have fun and enjoy the process. Happy quilting, and may your quilt backs be as delightful as your quilt tops!
Want to learn how to crochet? Then check out this post, How to Learn How to Crochet – Guide for Beginners.
Sew, quilt, crochet and repeat!