Monday, February 16, 2009

preparing a quilt backing from 120" wide fabric

As a machine quilter, I get a lot of quilt backings that are very good and some that aren't quite so good.

  • Why is a good quilt backing necessary for a quilt?
A good quilt backing makes the quilt lay flat and square when finished. If you are going to hang your quilt on a wall or in a quilt show, this is even more important.

  • How much larger than the quilt top should my backing be?
I ask for my quilt backings to be 6 inches larger than the quilt top. If your quilt is 50 inches by 70 inches, a quilt back that is 56 inches by 76 inches works best. If you leave your quilt backing 56 inches by 90 inches, I can use it BUT it is harder to get that perfect tension on your quilt backing You are doing your machine quilter a favor by finishing your quilt backing and making it the proper size.

Today I am going to just talk about the wide quilt backings purchased from quilt stores. I will address backings made from 45 inch side fabrics later.

  • Why should I tear my backing instead of just leaving the edge like I got it from the quilt store when I bought it?
When you buy the 120 inch wide at the quilt store, the edge is NEVER straight and square. When a quilter, machine or hand quilter, tries to put this on the quilt machine or frame, it is very uneven and will not lay flat. This will mean possible puckers in the backing and your quilt will not be flat when finished.

  • What do you suggest doing with the wide quilt backing from the store to prepare the quilt back?
First, measure your quilt top. For example the quilt is 75 inches by 90 inches. Your wide quilt backing is 120 inches wide.

Tear the non salvage edge of your backing until you get a strip that will tear all away across the width of the backing. You will be surprised how much off grain the wide backing actually is! I suggest purchasing an extra 1/2 yard when purchasing this fabric. You may loose that much by the time you square both ends of the fabric.

Next measure across the width from one salvage side toward the other salvage until you are at 81 inches. That is the 75 inch width of your quilt plus the extra 6 inches. TEAR at this mark down the length of your backing. This tear will be parallel to the salvage.

Set the narrow piece you tore off aside. Now measure down the salvage that is still attached to the piece of backing that you will be using 96 inches. That is 90 inches plus the additional 6 inches. TEAR ACROSS your backing piece perpendicular to the salvage. You can leave the one salvage piece on the backing. It will be used to pin your backing to the quilting machine or quilt frame.

  • What is the last step in preparing my backing?
PRESS the backing. When you get this wide backing off the bolt, it has very heavy creases that must be removed in order to avoid small creases on the back of your quilt. Use spray starch or steam to remove this heavy crease.

  • Do I need to preshrink my backing fabric?
I don't preshrink any of my fabric. There are a lot of different thoughts on this; I don't preshrink, others do.

Wasn't that easy? It takes a very small time to prepare a perfect quilt backing and it makes a much better quilt when finished.

Happy quilting!


1 comment:

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