How to Make a Super Easy Quilt Back

The only part of making a quilt that I do not enjoy is sewing the quilt back.  I just hate calculating the dimensions, cutting the pieces and then sewing them together.  There are many, many ways to make a quilt back.  You can even use 108″ wideback fabric, and not have to cut anything – but the fabric choices for those are limited. So, unless it’s a baby quilt, you almost always have to piece a quilt back. I can give you a method to make it a little easier. Instead of cutting two separate pieces of fabric and sewing them together, you cut one long piece, fold it together and then sew right down one side.  You then cut off the little fold line and open the fabric up and you’ve got a quilt back.  It’s very easy.

I get a lot of quilting questions from beginner quilters, so I am going to diagram this method out in a really basic way (I hope).  If you’re more of an advanced quilter, you won’t need such detailed instructions.

Keep in mind when you calculate dimensions for your quilt back, you have to take into account that although fabric width (WOF) is about 42 – 43″, you have to subtract the selvedges and you need to figure in ½” seams in your allowances.  Also, if you want an overage on your quilt back, making it a bit larger than your quilt top, adjust accordingly – I always allow a couple inches all the way around the quilt for an overage. So remember to allow for those in your calculations.  The example below doesn’t include overages – it’s just a example.

Also, I’ve recommended this phone app before and I use it all the time – it calculates how much yardage you will need for your backing.  It’s QuiltingCalc by Robert Kaufman.  Very handy.

This method actually works well for certain directional fabrics, because folding the fabric over on itself lines up the pattern in the same direction.  Also, this method only works on quilt tops which are under 80″ in length.

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Now just trim the length to the size you want.

Tips:

● Cut the selvedges off before you press the seam open – they are tighter and have less give than the fabric itself and can cause a pucker sometimes.  Make a big enough seam so that you can do this.  So make your sewing line ½” away from the selvedge.  Press the seam open so it lays flat.

● Use a walking foot if you can to sew the seam – it will move the fabric along better, so that it is even.

I hope these instructions make sense and that they are helpful.  Do you have a favorite method of piecing a quilt back?

Elaine

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Nine Patch Blues Quilt

Nine Patch Blues back and front

I love this quilt.  I so enjoyed making this quilt and watching it come together.  I love high contrast fabrics so much and putting them together with white solid fabric is so eye catching.  After I finished the Zuzu quilt, I really wanted to do something similar, only with squares.  I knew I wanted patchwork, but I didn’t want the whole quilt to be patterned fabrics, so I broke it up with blocks of white and I think the design is bold because of it.

Nine Patch Blues Quilt Front

I have lots of gorgeous blue fabrics from a block of the month club I joined and decided I did not like.  I didn’t like the blocks, but I loved the fabrics – gorgeous Cotton & Steel, Robert Kaufman, Art Gallery, Carolyn Friedlander, etc.  These were so fun to sort through and select for the quilt.

Nine Patch Blues folded

 

Nine Patch Blues layers

For the construction of this quilt, I made nine-patch blocks by cutting 3″ strips of fabrics from the width of fabric and then cutting those down to 3″ x 10″ strips.  I sewed three strips together, randomly, and then subcut these into 3 strip sets.  Then after I had sewed multiple strip sets, I sewed these randomly together to get nine-patch blocks.  I pressed all the seams one way on all my strip sets, so I could nest the seams together when I did the nine-patch blocks.  Make sure all the seams are pressed the same way on your finished blocks so that you can alternate seams on your rows and nest them together.

 

After your blocks are sewn, trim them to 8″ square.

 

 

After I had all my nine-patch blocks finished, I cut  8″ squares of solid white.  Then I laid out the quilt randomly, alternating nine-patch blocks and white blocks.  I made 46 nine-patch blocks and cut 17 squares of solid white.

Nine Patch Blues Quilt Rolled

I was going to do a scrappy binding, but then decided to use a tiny navy blue and white dress stripe from Dear Stella that I thought went nicely with the quilt.  I did my usual machine binding for extra durability.

I stitched in the ditch for the quilting, because I felt I didn’t want the quilting to interfere with the beautiful patterns in all the fabrics.

Nine Patch Blues Binding

Nine Patch Blues binding detail

Nine Patch Blues stacked

I also used TWO layers of Warm and Natural Warm and White cotton batting again. This makes the quilt extra heavy and extra warm and it has become my favorite way to make a quilt now.  I just love the extra heft and weight that it gives a quilt.  I actually gently prewash my batting because I don’t want it to shrink much when it’s in the quilt and laundered in the future.  Warm and Natural batting actually holds up well in a gently prewash, but other battings I’ve used do not.  I think that shows how well the batting will hold up once it’s in the quilt and going to be washed for years to come.

Nine Patch Blues detail

Nine Patch Blues folds

The backing fabric is an absolute favorite of mine – 108″ wide quiltback “Language of Colors” by Windham Fabrics.  I  just love this fabric and the punch it adds to a quilt, without competing with the front of the quilt.

Nine Patch Blues backing

The finished quilt is 52″ x 67″, a great size to snuggle up with.

This quilt is for sale and I’m listing this in the Shop.

Have a wonderful week!
Elaine

 

 

 

 

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This and That

The one great thing about winter for me is that if I’m going to be stuck indoors, I get a lot of sewing done.  And knitting.  I just finished a custom order of the Peachy Keen Quilt and it was so fun to work with these fabrics again:

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And I’ve just finished this cute little baby girl sweater  (during many episodes of This is Us).  It was a fun little pattern and I loved the way it turned out.

I’m currently working on a new quilt, inspired by my Zuzu Quilt.  I love high contrast fabrics with white and this is another design, only using nine-patch blocks.  I’m using fabrics that were from a Block of the Month club that I joined last year and decided I did not like.  Oh well. I ended up with  a lot of gorgeous blue and white fabrics from it.

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Sometimes when I need to buy fabric, I like to search for it by color and it can be tedious to do when using online shops.  Did you know that Hawthorne Threads has a nifty Color Grid tool that makes it easy to search for fabrics of a certain color in all their collections?  I love using it.  Try it sometime!

In all my years of sewing, I have never cut myself with a rotary cutter, but I recently did just that.  I wasn’t necessarily being careless, though – I had been cutting lots of fabric on my regular ruler and then wanted to do a couple of strips using a different specialty ruler.  I was used to the thickness of my regular ruler and the specialty ruler was much thinner.  Well, the rotary cutter went right off the thinner ruler and sliced my left index finger pretty badly.   So it inspired a search for a finger guard and I found this nifty item, which I’m now wearing when I cut fabric – a Cosmo Finger Guard.  It’s actually made for the hair styling industry, to prevent stylists from snipping their fingers but I think it’s terrific for people who sew!  It’s cut resistant and just might be enough protection to prevent a bad mishap.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about a method of sewing a quilt back but I wanted to share with you a phone app that I use all the time to figure out yardages for backing, batting and binding – it’s the Robert Kaufman “Quilter’s Little Helper”.  Have you seen it?  I love it.  (I believe it’s available for Android users, too.)  I simply plug in the width and length of my quilt and the binding width I like to use and it will calculate how many strips of fabric I need to cut for my binding.  Or how many yards I need for my backing.  It calculates borders, too.  Check it out sometime!

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I can’t believe it’s already March!

Hope you’re making something! 
Elaine

The Zuzu Quilt

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This quilt all started with the backing fabric.  I saw this fabric and fell in love with it and knew right away I wanted to do a red, grey and white quilt top – a top with stark white fabric. The quilt backing fabric is Zuzu Circles by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures.  Isn’t it just so awesome?

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I had a lot of fun picking out reds and grey fabrics from my stash.  I tried to only use fabrics that had a lot of high contrast to them.  I used Kona White as the background fabric and wanted the prints to really stand out against that.  I also cut up some of the backing fabric and used a little of that on the front, too.

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The quilt top was made up of one block that looked like this and that I randomly rotated all over the quilt top to get a random scattering of the prints:

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The blocks were made up of eight 3″ x 2.5″ rectangles sewn together and then two 2″ x 8.5″ strips of white sewn onto the sides, to make an 8.5″ block.  I used some 8.5″ plain squares of Kona white to make some negative space on the quilt. There were 54 blocks total for the whole quilt, 6 across and 9 blocks down.

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I used Warm and White cotton batting for this quilt – a must for white quilts where you don’t want the batting to dull the whiteness.  I used TWO layers of batting on this quilt – I wish you could feel how heavy and warm that makes the quilt.  I’ve been doing that a lot lately and really like it.  It still machine quilts up just fine.  If you use two layers of batting, do make sure that you use a heavier needle – a #14 quilting needle, to get through all those layers.

For the binding, I had to go with my favorite gingham binding and it was perfect because I had used some of the gingham in the quilt top.  It’s Robert Kaufman Carolina ⅛” Gingham in Silver.

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This quilt finished at 48″ x 72″, a great size to curl up for a nap with – it’s long enough for just about anyone.  I never make my quilts more than 60″ wide, though, because that is the width of my ping pong table and that is where I baste them!  I can make them as long as I want, though.

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This quilt top sewed up so quickly – it was done before I knew it.  My least favorite part of quilting is sewing the quilt back together.  I’ve been using a method recently that makes this process a lot easier  ➡︎  I’m going to be posting about it next time, I hope!

Thanks for stopping by!
Elaine

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Make Eight Half Square Triangles at a Time With This Super Fast Method

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This is Method #3 in my tutorials on how to make Half Square Triangles.  The first method makes 2 at a time, the second  method makes 4 at a time and this method makes 8 at a time.  It is for sure the fastest way to make HSTs.  And it’s super easy – 2 squares of fabrics, sew 4 seams, make 4 cuts and trim.  You can really crank them out with this method.  And there are no bias edges on these blocks.

You begin with cutting two squares of fabric the same size.  I cut them generously because I like to trim my finished HST to size, so they are perfect.  Here is a chart to give you the sizes.  I have included a cutting size you can use if you don’t want to cut them oversize.

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Ombre Half Square Triangle Quilt

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This is my last quilt for 2016.  It’s something I wanted to make for a while – a quilt that matches our bedroom colors.  It’s a nice throw size for when you want to take a nap back in the bedroom.  And I made it with one of my favorite fabrics, Ombre, from V&Co.  This quilt was made with just one color of Ombre!  It’s a gradiated fabric and it gives the appearance that you used several different fabrics.

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I made this quilt entirely from half square triangles.  I made them using an eight-at-a-time method, which I’m going to write about in my next post.  It’s a super fast way to make eight HSTs, sewing only two seams together and making 4 cuts.  I made the blocks 4.5″ and I made a total of 192 blocks.

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I also did something that I did in my last quilt, which was to use two layers of batting.  I liked it so much in my Dotted Flying Geese quilt that I thought I would try it again.  It makes a very warm quilt.  I used one layer of Warm and Natural 100% cotton batting and one layer of Hobb’s 80/20 batting.  I was still able to machine quilt with no puckering or tucks.  I made sure to lower the tension on my machine.  I quilted with Aurifil 50 wt thread at a 4.0 stitch length.

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For the backing, I used a favorite fabric – Modern Background Notes by Zen Chic. I love the writing on this fabric and thought it was perfect for this quilt.

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I used a very simple binding, because I didn’t want the quilt to be too busy.  I cut 2.5″ strips for the binding and sewed it on by machine using this method.

The finished quilt measures 64″ x 48″.   I love the way it turned out and it looks so nice at the foot of our bed.

Thanks for stopping by and here’s wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!

Elaine

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Four-at-a-Time No Waste Flying Geese Blocks

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I used to avoid making Flying Geese blocks because of all the wasted corners of fabrics you have to cut off.  I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  But did you know you can make Flying Geese blocks with no wasted fabric?  This was a game changer for me and now I love this block.

I’m showing you how to make these blocks four at a time. I like to make these a little oversize, so I can trim them to perfect sizes.  You cut one large square of fabric from the fabric you want for your Flying Geese (your main fabric).  Then you cut four small squares from your background fabric.  This chart shows you what to cut for various sizes.  Remember – the finished Flying Geese Size in the chart is after being sewn into your project.  After you trim them (before they are sewn in) they will be ½” larger than your desired finished size, so that you have ¼” seam allowance to work with.

I hope this tutorial is helpful.  Some Flying Geese tutorials are complicated and don’t seem to explain the technique very well – I hoped to make one that is very simple to follow.   Happy Sewing!

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With this method, you will end up with four Flying Geese blocks.

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I like to trim my blocks  with Bloc Loc Rulersflying-geese-tutorial-16

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Dotted Flying Geese Quilt

 

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I always had a vision for this quilt – using only dotted fabrics of all sizes and only in black and white.  I used great big dots and pin dots and everything in between.  It made a very modern, bold quilt. Normally, I don’t like to make flying geese blocks because there’s so much wasted fabric but in a future post, I’m going to show you how to make them using a no-waste method. 

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I thought about putting these flying geese on a white background but it seemed a little too stark.  I then pulled out one of my all time favorite fabrics from Zen Chic – Ink Modern Background in Grey.  I paired this with Robert Kaufman Kona Solid in Silver and randomly made all the backgrounds in the blocks from these two fabrics.

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The flying geese themselves were made of many different dotted fabrics from my stash.  I wasn’t able to identify every single dotted fabric but here are some that I know and are a favorite, in case you are wondering what some of them are:  Jumbo Dots by Loralie Harris – if you don’t know her line of dotted fabrics, check them out!  So very fun and inspirational.  Another dotted fabric I really love is Hello Bear Firefly in Whisper, an Art Gallery Fabric.

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The finished quilt is  55″ x 61′.  Each flying geese block was 3″ x 6″.  I made 180 blocks.  I made them using Bloc Loc rulers, which I’m going to write about in a future post.  This method made these blocks very easy to make and very accurate.

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For the backing fabric, I wanted to keep the dot theme going so I chose a fabric from Robert Kaufman’s Spot On collection in Steel.  It’s  a 108″ wide fabric, perfect for a quilt backing. It was the perfect color and complement to the front, I thought.

For the batting, I did something very different.  For this quilt, I pictured a heavy, warmer quilt than just the regular layer of cotton batting.  But I didn’t want a tied quilt.  So I took a chance and used two layers of batting and machine quilted it.  It worked great!  And I ended up with a nice, heavy, more substantial quilt.  Very warm. I used two layers of The Warm Company’s “Warm Bond” quilt batting.  It’s an 80/20 batting, which they are actually discontinuing.  But I heard from The Warm Company and they say they are working on a new 80/20 batting, which should be available this November.

I ditch stitched the whole quilt because I just couldn’t picture a good quilting pattern that would look right on the flying geese.  I used a light gray Aurifil 50 wt thread on the top and a darker gray in the bottom, to match the backing fabric.

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For the binding, I just had to give the quilt a little pop of color with all that grey, white and black.  And the binding had to be a solid – no stripes or patterns.  There is just way too much going on with the quilt itself.  But which color?  After trying several possibilities, I ended up with the Kona Cotton Solid in Caramel.  I just love how it looks on the quilt.

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I’ll be putting this quilt in the Shop.

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Elaine

I’m linking up to Free Motion by the RiverSew Cute Tuesday and  Let’s Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts!  Check it out!

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