Storytime Squares Tips & Tricks: Pieced Quilt Backs

I love to make quilt tops (which is probably why I have about 6 that are waiting to be quilted).  Sometimes, I get stuck when it comes to making a quilt back. In most cases, and especially with charity quilts, I want to make something that is simple, that uses up my stash and/or fabrics from the front of the quilt, and that looks good. Sounds easy, right? But often, I get stuck at this point. In case I’m not the only one, I thought I’d put together a few pictures and tips.
Tip #1: It is okay to use a single piece of fabric on the back, it is sometimes worth it just to finish the quilt! This works especially well with large prints, snuggle, minky, or voile on the back.
Tip #2: Every once in a while, use your favorite fabric on the back! Fabric is meant to be used, right? I love the blue basketweave on my Summer Sampler Series quilt to the right.  I also used one of my favorite fabrics, Lizzy House’s Pearl Bracelet in pond (below) for a custom quilt.

Tip #3: Make the quilt back at least a few inches bigger on each side. Don’t skimp here–it is harder to line up quilts if there isn’t much leeway (ask me how I know this!) If you find that your quilt back is too small AFTER it has been quilted (hello!), you can add a strip of fabric to the edge and just kind of wing it.  It seems to work best if you use something that looks like it is meant to be there–the Mendocino octopus strip below was one of those “oops” moments.

Tip #4: It is hard to line up quilt fronts and quilt backs–keep that in mind when piecing your quilt back.  Don’t put an element you really like near the edge of the quilt, it might get cut off. Mine are never perfect. Someday, perhaps.

Tip #5: If you have leftover or odd blocks, use them on the back.  That is what I did with two odd sized blocks from my Summer Sampler Series quilt (above).

Tip #6: Make the binding before you piece the back. And then, be careful not to put it in a “super safe place,” where you may lose it for up to a year. I just found a roll of binding last week–luckily my friend Tricia was able to use it in the Cool by the Pool Quilt. 

Tip #7: Often, I end up liking the quilt back as much as the front. And that is okay! My quilt backs also tend to be a lot calmer than the fronts. It makes me think I need to make a set of simple quilts…
(Mosaic above are quilt backs I have made) 1. 100 Quilts Quilt Along- Back, 2. Beltway Traffic–The Back, 3. Doesn’t that look like I meant to add a strip on the end?, 4. 2009-06-29 021, 5. Central Park Binding, 6. peacock blue quilt.back, 7. A bit of Heather Ross, 8. DQS 10 Back, 9. Preschool Quilt Framed

Finally, did you know that there is an entire flickr group dedicated to Quilt Backs? With over 1300 pictures, you are sure to find some inspiration!  I spent, oh, a wee bit of time looking through the pictures. So many of the quilt backs are just as beautiful as the fronts! If you are looking for something simple, graphic, and beautiful, Faith and Rita have particularly stunning collections. Happy sewing! Don’t forget to add any 100 Quilts for Kids Quilts here

P.S. I am a mosaic-aholic lately. I know, I know. I hope to actually get back to my sewing machine soon :) 100 Quilts, organizing multiple projects for the Virginia State Day of Service, vacation, and back to school have kept me busy busy busy.

Quilt Along Schedule:

Storytime Squares Tutorial by Rae Hoekstra of Made By Rae (used with permission)
Monday, September 12-Wednesday, September 21–Quilting Techniques
Wednesday, September 14- All About the Quilting 
Tuesday, September 20- Spacing Your Quilting

Friday, September 23 – 100 Quilts for Kids Quilt Along Link Up

Wednesday, October 12- Machine Binding Tutorial
Wednesday, October 12-14 – 2nd 100 Quilts for Kids Link Up

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  1. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all those tips. To me the back is the back so I do favour a single fabric back and if it has to have a pieced section then it should be a strip or something small. I haven’t made a lot of quilts but of the tonnes I have designed in my head I always lean towards using a large scale print for the back. One of the things I find about quilting is the frustration of large scale prints being chopped up and not appreciated for what they are. I think the back is the perfect place the showcase them.

  2. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    No Way! An entire Flickr Group devoted to Backs? Awesome…I’m going there next. I just came out of my sewing room after starting my quilt for 100 Quilts for Kids – I am really in love with it – can’t wait to share and, more importantly, to give to someone to love! Thanks for the motivation Kate!

  3. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Good post – thanks! I usually piece backs these days, tho still am usually anxious about them.

  4. Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Hi! Thank you for a great post! Every tip and experience is always welcome! I love you quilts and quilt backs!

  5. Posted September 8, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Great post, and great tips! Another tip for a super easy pieced back is to make a coin strip of scraps from the front of the quilt and put it between two whole pieces of fabric to make your back – if you’re going to have to seam the back anyway, why not put something interesting there? And then offset the coin strip for added interest, instead of putting it in the center.

  6. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks – this is so fun! I’ve ordered my fabric for several quilts for the project, and I’m looking forward to meeting you in person at the DC Modern sewing meet-up next week. I’ve never been to one of these before – do we need to bring irons, cutting tools/mats/etc., as well as sewing machines and extension cords? Or do people share? Very excited – thanks for the motivation!

  7. Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I usually don’t piece the back, mostly because I prefer to hand quilt and the fewer seams the better.

  8. Posted September 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Great tips. Sometimes I need to be reminded that super simple is okay for the quilt back! I often find myself finishing what are essentially “double-sided quilts” because I don’t just keep it simple on the back.

  9. Marty
    Posted April 2, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I am making a T shirt for my granddaughters graduation, would a soft flannel be ok for the backing??

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted April 6, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry I missed this comment. I have actually never made a t-shirt quilt. I think that should be okay, just make sure to pre-wash the flannel because it can shrink a ton.

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