Focus on the back one more time – need your help

back of Moon Over ManhattanWhen I first started quilting we generally used muslin for the back. The hand quilted double Irish chain I made for my sweetie and a few other quilts have muslin backs.
it didn’t take long before a change was made and using something related to the front became more of the common practice. Often a print that was part of the coordinating line.
A few years back one of my friends and  now several of us started using pieced backs. And by pieced backs I mean using every scrap of fabric we have from the quilt to make the backing.
Now just about anything goes.
However the question came up in a recent conversation, “what makes a good quilt backing”?
What prints? Solids? Tonals?
What are your favorite backs?
What are you looking for when  you go searching for a the perfect backing?
Has your backing fabric changed over time?

Let me know what you do.

Happy Quilting!

14 thoughts on “Focus on the back one more time – need your help”

  1. I like “busy backs” – to hide any tension or other imperfections. I know many like to see the backs, but my motto is “it’s not about the back”. It’s about the front.

  2. Anything goes, but I’m not a fan of muslin. Yes, a few of my quilts have that as backing, and a few are scrappy, but I really like the surprise of a big, uninterrupted piece of a great print, or a cool hand-dye.

  3. I guess I’m so looking forward to the finished product by the time the backing comes into question that I usually buy a backing fabric that comes together with the quilt motif. They really have some beautiful backing fabric to choose from now and in my world it makes the quilting process easy and relaxing !!! Maybe after writing this I’ll experiment with more abstract backings ????

  4. Since Im a fairly new quilter I have only 2 changes. I Started with tone on tone muslin type. Then I moved to a pieced back with a block from the quilt as my label.
    With the cost of fabric going up so darn fast I may have lots of UFO’s hanging around !

  5. First, if anyone wants to see the front of that quilt, it’s hanging in my shop. Second, my choice of what to use on the back has a lot to do with how the quilt is going to be used. If it is meant for the wall whatever is on hand and big enough works cause once it is on the wall no one will see the back. If it is for a baby, I will often use flannel, and if it to go on a bed I choose something that will match the bedroom so if the owner wants to use the other side up ( to lessen the impact of pet hair for example ) they still have something nice on the bed.

  6. I tend to like coordinating prints. I also like a piece of material large enough to cover the whole thing, although there have been times when I have pieced the back if it was my own quilt to keep. There was a quilt that I quilted “upside down” because it was a memory quilt and I was quilting sentence fragments and it would have been very difficult to read from the front. For that quilt, I used a plain muslin backing so as not to distract from reading the words. So in answer to your question, I do whatever the situation seems to render as best.

  7. I have used a variety of different options. It depends on time and budget constraints. If I have time and fabrics available I like to use pieced backs. It’s a great way to use up fabric leftover from the quilt top!

  8. It depends.

    If it’s a wall hanging, it gets a muslin or some other solid that’s in the stash/ Or maybe some kind of neutral/floral/geometric that I bought years ago, when I was having some kind of poor choice episode.

    Quilts for special people, family, etc – I try to match color wise to the front and then find some print that screams that person’s personality. For instance, I recently made a quilt for my daughter-in-law that was cream, darkish green and rich brown (the one with the tiny strip of red between the two brown borders). The recipient is a gardener, and as I walked around the shop – the garden gloves and tools print whose green background fit in well with the front green,that jumped off the shelf into my arms.

    A Log Cabin quilt got a full width size block in the colors of the quilt. Probably the best of the pieced backs I have made so far.
    A special quilt for my son is going to have blocks of fabrics that are in his interest fields….or his biography – trains, planes and a piece of fabric printed with the Medal of Honor which a relative won in the Civil War.

    Baby and children’s quilts get kid type prints or colors.

    Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason other than it feels and looks right. especially with charity quilts,,,”just” a tone on tone or something like Stonehenge.

    In short, like all the other fabrics that get chosen for the quilt, it needs to belong to and contribute to the quilt and its personality.

  9. What makes a good back? Surprise. I like any kind of surprise – a comforting surprise, a pleasant surprise, an interesting surprise, a shocking surprise. My preference now are shocking surprises – contrast – is that really the same quilt? I like solid or subtlety printed backs, and particularly backs that radiate from light in the middle to dark outside. In colors that really show off the quilting, whether they ‘go with’ the front or not. Perhaps they should be related… or not… I don’t mind piecing the backs for the look I want, but I like extra wide, not pieced backs too. Big, bold prints are also nice for the back, especially if you haven’t used them on the front or if you don’t want the quilting to show. I did this more early on when I was learning. It’s funny though – even though I’m better now, I often like the quilting on the front to support the top, to be great, but secondary. On the back, however, that’s where the quilting shares the stage with nobody. So solids or subtlety printed backs for me now… And I don’t usually wash my backs, but I do look for fabrics that have a little less body off the bolt – I think I get prettier results and maybe it’s easier to balance my tension. ??? Maybe that’s in my head because I love cuddly soft backs when I’m using the finished quilt.

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