We've Got Your Back!
Once you have finished your beautiful quilt top, it is time to choose your backing. The backing of your quilt should not be an afterthought. The backing is the part of the quilt that lies against your body, so you should, of course, select a high-quality backing fabric that will last for generations to come.
Once you have selected your fabric, you will need to determine how much you will need to purchase. There are several factors that you must take into account in making that determination.
How Much Material is Required for a Quilt Back?
Not surprisingly, a quilt top's length and width are the primary factors determining the amount of fabric you will need for a quilt back. In addition to these dimensions, you will also have to account for the extra material necessary to machine quilt your quilt (typically 4 inches around each side). You will also need to account for the amount of fabric you will lose when you trim the fabric's selvages. Finally, if the quilt is large, you will need to piece your backing. You will need to allow for ½" seam allowances for each of the necessary seams.
One final factor that will influence the amount of fabric you will need for your quilt back is the fabric's width that you purchase. The two most commonly available choices for fabric widths are 44/45" and 108" (wide back).
Regardless of which fabric width you ultimately choose, you must know both the length and the width of your quilt top in inches.
To account for the material needed for machine quilting, you should add 8 inches to both of those dimensions, which will be the dimensions of your backing. These dimensions and the fabric width will determine how much fabric you will need to purchase.
For Creating a Backing from a 44/45" Bolt
- Convert the quilt top length into yards by dividing it by 36 and rounding up to the nearest ¼ yard.
- If your quilt's width is less than 42 inches, you can cut the backing fabric the length of your quilt.
- If, on the other hand, your quilt's width is greater than 43 inches, you will need to piece your back.
- If your quilt's width is greater than 43 inches but less than 85 inches, you should purchase double the length measurement in yards.
- If your backing's width dimension is greater than 85 inches, you should purchase triple the length measurement in yards.
- To create your quilt back, you will then cut that fabric in 2 or 3 lengths, as appropriate, and then piece them together with a 1/2″ seam allowance and press your seams open to eliminate the bulk.
For Creating a Backing from a "Wide back" or 108" Bolt
- Convert the quilt top length backing into yards by dividing it by 36 and rounding up to the nearest ¼ yard.
- If your quilt's width is less than 107 inches, you can cut the material the length of your quilt.
- If, on the other hand, the width of your quilt is greater than 107 inches, you will need to piece your back.
- If your quilt is greater than 107 inches, you should purchase double the length measurement in yards.
- To create your quilt back, you will then cut that fabric into two lengths and piece them together with a 1/2″ seam allowance and press your seam open to eliminate the bulk.
44/45" vs. 108" Cost Comparison
The average cost of wide back (108") fabrics is less per square unit of measure than the average price of 44/45" fabrics.
A 1-yard cut of 108" fabric 108" x 36" = 3,888 square inches
A 1-yard cut of 44"/45" fabric 44" x 36" = 1,584 square inches
108" wide fabric average cost is approximately $18.00/yard
$18.00/yard ÷ 3,888 square inches = 0.46 cents/inch
44"/45" wide fabric average cost is approximately $12.00/yard
$12.00 /yard ÷ 1,584 square inches = 0.76 cents/square inch
Or you can look at it this way; if your quilt top is 86" x 92" and you were to use a 44/45" fabric for the back, you would need three cuts of three yards each, equaling nine yards of fabric for the back. Nine yards of fabric at $12.00/yard would cost $108.00.
On the other hand, if you were to use a 108" fabric for the back, you would need one cut at three yards. Three yards at $18.00 per yard would cost $54.00.
$108.00 - $54.00 = $54.00 SAVINGS, just by using a 108" wide backing! Think of all the extra fabric you could buy!
Other uses for Wide Back Fabric
Other than using a 108" wide fabric for backing a quilt, you can use it to make tablecloths, dust ruffles, shower curtains, drapery lining, a backdrop, etc.
People often ask what to do with the extra fabric from a wide back. You can keep the scraps and use them in piecing other blocks like you would with any fabric. You can also cut it into strips to make a binding that matches the back of your quilt.
Using a wide back fabric can save both time (not piecing a back can save you hours) and money. They also give your quilt a cleaner look because there will be no seams on the back of your quilt. And your long-arm quilter will love you!
Lone Star Quiltworks carries an extensive selection of wide backs. Check them out at https://lonestarquiltworks.com/search/?q=108