Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tutorial - How to make A Pieced Quilt Back

On Friday I showed some of the pieced quilt backs I have made recently and promised I'd post a tutorial to show you how I do it.  There are many ways to make a pieced quilt back.  Below is one method & it is the one I use most of the time.

1. Here is the quilt top that I needed to make a back for.  I pinned it to my design wall so that I can easily see how large it is.  If you don't have a design wall the floor works for this step too.

Off the Rail #2
Pattern by Julie Herman
Quilt made by Candi Weinrick

2. I start with my label.  It can be a printed label like the ones I do through spoonflower or it can be handwritten, embroidered, etc.  Normally I want the label to pop a bit so I put a frame of fabric around it. {Like putting borders on a mini quilt.}  Sometimes the frame is the same size on all sides but not always.  I try to use up scraps that I may have cut from making the top etc. 

Label with a green border.
The side fabric is wider than the top & bottom.

Here is the label from another quilt to show you some options.
Label with a blue border.
The frame is 2" around on all sides.

3. The next step is going through my stash and finding what big pieces of fabric I have that will work for backing.  For this quilt I started with the green feather print.  I cut a piece that was approximately 8" wider than my quilt top by the full width of fabric and pinned it to the design wall as shown below.

4. With the green pinned to the design wall I can easily see how much more of my quilt top needs to be covered.  I selected a red feather print and cut it to the same width & pinned it to the design wall leaving  a space for my label stripe.

5. I measured the height of my framed label from step #2 and cut two pieces of blue fabric the same height.  I sewed them onto either side of the label to create the horizontal label stripe.  I went back to the design wall and decided that I wanted to offset the label to the right.

Here is a closeup of the label stripe pinned to the design wall.

6. I cut my label stripe to the same width as my top & bottom pieces.  I also removed the selvages from the red and green fabrics and made sure that each one had a nice straight edge before adding the label stripe.  Then I sewed the label stripe to the green and pressed.  Lastly I repeated with the red.  When possible I use 1/2" seams for piecing the long straight seams of my backing.

7. As you can see by the small pile on the floor the length of the red is much longer than needed.  You can trim the excess off now or you can wait till the quilt is quilted.  If you send your quilts to a long arm quilter it is best to check and see if they have a preference.

8. Here is the finished quilt back.

Some things to note
1. It is hard to perfectly line up an element on the back and the front.  

2. Don't place your label or an important design element on the back too close to any edge as you might risk it getting cut off.

3. If you are using lots of scraps on the back make sure that you have already set your binding fabric aside and don't accidentally use it.  I did that once and had to go buy more!

4. In case you are wondering the fabric shown in the tutorial is Treasures & Tidbits by Piece o' Cake designs.  The fabric shown in the button below is Pick a Bunch by Nancy Mims.


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© 2011-2022 Julie R. Herman. All rights reserved.

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mascanlon said...

Clever, clever woman! For years I have measured, muttered and tried to make it all come out with 4-6 in around the quilt top. With this easy trick I'd have saved hours and hours. Thanks!!

Regina said...

You always have such great posts. Thank you for the tips. I always wondered how wide I should do the seam allowance on the back.

I'm still too nervous to try a pieced back. I have a heard enough time making my sandwiches look nice I can't imagine trying to have everything perfectly lined up.

Unknown said...

Julie, you are da bomb diggety dawg!!! your tutes have taught me how to how to play this sport called quilting. Thanks, coach!

✾Jamie Lee Cooley✾ said...

Wow, that is perfect! Thanks so much!!!

Anonymous said...

You are so good at explaining your processes!

harleywife57/ Mickey White said...

You sure take a lot of stress from us newbies ! and you explain it so well ; thank you !

Becky (My Fabric Obsession) said...

hee hee, I needed your tip about putting aside the binding fabric a few weeks ago. I just put together a scrappy binding because I used the binding fabric on the back. whoops! Another great post!

EAB said...

I've done one quilt where I successfully managed to line up a pieced area on the front and back. I loosely pin-basted the whole quilt where I had a lot of give around the area I wanted to line up, and then I un-taped it. I picked it up and hand-basted the pieced area to line it all up exactly. I then taped it back down and re-basted it with pins.

Minorly troublesome, but it worked out really well, and made all the difference to the appearance of that particular quilt.

Unknown said...

Great article. I really enjoy seeing a quilt which has an interesting (though simple) reverse side. Thanks.

rachel griffith said...


Jen said...

Thanks so much for this! Why do you use a 1/2" seam allowance for quilt backs? Do they get pulled apart more than the front or something?

Needled Mom said...

Great tutorial on the pieced backing. I love how you add the label at this point as I always sew mine on afterwards.

Kelly O. said...

you are a star! thank you for this! soooo helpful.

Cathy @ CabbageQuilts said...

Great Tute Julie, and gorgeous quilt, front and back! xo

schmidt1016 said...

That was a great idea for the pieced backing. I never would have thought of pinning the backing right over the front to check for the size. Very clever! Thanks.

Leslie S. in MN
esclante at comcast dot net

Ruth said...

Genius tips - and a gorgeous quilt! Thanks Julie!

**nicke... said...

yet again you are fulfilling your mission! this has made my life better! ;)

Sunnybec said...

Thanks for the Tut. So far I haven't pieced a back but I like how you do yours.

sao said...

Thanks for the tutorial on how to make a pieced back - I love it.

I was one of those who guessed that your block belonged to Judy L of

sao in Midlothian, VA

QuiltingCyclist said...

Great tutorial with outstanding guidelines. I love pieced backs as they add so much interest to the back of my quilts. I am very careful and still offer a special prayer request as I baste that it is mostly straight. Usually I mark a large blue tape cross on the floor that I use for centering my back and layers as I sandwich and baste. It is always a challenge but the reward is an interesting back.

Dresden Quilter said...

Thanks so much for this Julie! I have always wanted to do a pieced back but it seems I am always trying to get it done to take to the quilter's. I will definitely be trying this with the next one.

Marzetta said...

Does anyone have any tips/suggestions/links to inspire me? I'd like to add a sweet little phrase to my grandson's quilt that I say to him at bedtime whenever I'm visiting. Embroidery and permanent ink just won't cut it. Ideas?? A million thanks!!

Unknown said...

This eliminates the tedious math of piecing a back. Thanks!