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Back it up Baby!

Have you ever used a non-conventional fabric to back your quilts? In a past blog, I talked about using sweatshirt knit as one of my favorite quilt backs (when I can find it for sale). It gives the quilt the best drape and weight without being too heavy. I love a cozy feeling quilt, and I think the backing you choose has a lot to do with that.

This is my Grandmother’s Flower Patch quilt from last week's blog, and I just had to show you what I used on the back. I used double knit, or sometimes it’s called waffle knit (it's not quite as heavy as sweatshirt knit, but much heavier than jersey knit). I found it in the baby/nursery fabric section, and it comes 56” wide. I also used wool batting in this one which accounts for the great texture and puffy look. A match made in heaven :)

When I can’t find a sweatshirt knit, I often opt for flannel. Not the most unconventional fabric, but I like to look in the garment department to get a nice yarn-dyed plaid. That way, it is the same on both sides and quilts up beautifully! I still use thin batting in flannel-backed quilts, but I just haven’t been happy with no batting at all.

Flannels make terrific backing for guy quilts. They come in many neutral colors. Because they were designed to make garments, they wash up well and become softer with time. You may want to buy a little extra if you have to match the plaids in a backing seam. And it is always a good idea to pre-shrink the flannel before quilting as it does tend to shrink more than regular cotton fabric.

How about Polar Fleece?! It adds a thick density to a quilt, and you can often find sports team fleece or other novelty prints like superheroes. It usually comes 54”-60” wide, so think lap-size quilts.

I would avoid trying to piece fleece for backing. One-piece backing would be the way to go. Adding a seam will leave quite a lump that is hard to miss once quilted. Fleece is thick and quite dense, so you could probably get by without adding a batting layer.

Minky has been a favorite of mine for baby quilts and cuddle quilts for many years. I prefer the Minky that has the fuzz on just one side because it is a little lighter and easier to piece, if needed. It also has more of a one-way stretch rather than stretching in all directions.

If you have to piece minky, just make the seam extra wide (½”-¾”). This way, the two sides can lay down flat and smooth making a lump less visible.

If you buy the Minky or cuddle fabric that has fuzz on both sides, you get to pick the side you want to be the right side. One has a short fine knap and the other looks a little wilder, but both will work fine! If you have to piece it, make your seam extra wide and be prepared for a lump anyway. It's just a bit thicker and loftier than the other Minkys.

Wide backs eliminate the need for piecing. These fabrics typically come 108” wide. Watch how warped they can be coming off the bolt. Wide backs must be doubled over a couple of times before wrapping on the bolt. This can cause extreme warping which could cause an oblong-shaped piece of cut fabric. If you can, ask that they tear your yardage instead of cutting it. This way, it will tear with the grainline. You can pull it back on-grain after you’ve washed it.

Happy Sunday Everyone,


Follow all my quilty adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Visit my Youtube channel for free tutorials and tips. If you like my patterns, you can buy them on Etsy, and here on the website.


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