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Backing in a Pinch

Warning, this one is for all the math lovers out there; for the rest of you please don’t tune out just yet ;), there may be something helpful here for you too!

What do you do when your quilt is just wider than your fabric, making a pieced back necessary? Most people will buy twice the width and put a seam across the middle, but what are you going to do with all that extra backing fabric? Or, what if there just isn’t quite enough on the bolt for twice the width?

I just finished a baby quilt that was 50” square…. and my backing fabric was 44” wide. I would need the backing to be at least 55” square for the machine quilting process. If I bought yardage and pieced it across the middle, I would need 110” of backing (or just over 3 yds) and there is just over 2 yds on the bolt… uh oh.

Here’s what I did! I bought 74” (or 2 yds plus 2”). I opened it up, pressed out the center crease, and cut it from one corner diagonally to the opposite corner.

I slid the two triangle pieces away from each other making the fabric wider and wider. Once it had reached 55” (ish), I pinned the two pieces together and sewed a quarter inch seam. I pressed the seam open, trimmed the tail triangles off both ends and, ta da!

You can do this trick for almost any size quilt, as long as the width you need for backing is less than one and a half times the width of the fabric. if your fabric is the typical 44”, you can get a backing up to 66” (minus seam allowance) out of it this way. You can also use a wider fabric and do the same thing: 60” wide fabric could be used to make a backing up to 90” wide.

Here’s how you figure how much yardage you can get by with:

Take the width and length of the backing you will need.

In my case that was 55” x 55”.

Width of backing minus width of fabric = 55”- 44” = 11”

2 x the width of fabric (44”) = 88” (this is the same for all equations no matter the size of the quilt)

88” minus width needed (55”) = 33”

Width needed x the difference between the width needed and the width of fabric (in this case that is 55” x 11”) = 605

605 divided by 33 = 18.33 (for our sanity we are going to round up to 19”)

Now add 19” to 55” and that’s how much yardage you can eek by with! 74” to be exact :)

Okay, got all that? Haha! Sorry, if your brains just went through a blender.

I realize I may have zero subscribers next week!

You can get this as a printable PDF download here!

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