Quilt Backs and all that Jazz

by | Aug 5, 2021 | Inspirations, Quilting techniques | 1 comment

When I started  taking classes with Judith Wilson, the very first quilt I made had a pieced back – I just needed a few extra inches across the width of the quilt, and so I added a strip of fabric, and then added a crosswise strip to add balance.

Eloise’s star quilt – back

Eloise’s star quilt






A few years later and the project was this fabulous Storm at Sea variation..  The term started off fairly normally but by the end of the term I was in the midst of a family crisis and there was no money for backing fabric for my lovely quilt.  So I improvised.  I pieced together every scrap left over from the top until I had created a piece of fabric large enough for the back.  It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t planned, but by golly I wasn’t giving up!  I had to put in a couple of bits of bottle green polycotton from some dressmaking, and some black Spraytime from a different project to make up the size, but we got there, and the quilt got finished.

Storm at Sea design created in solids based on an Amish Palette.

Storm over an Amish Sea – Back








There were a few quilts made around that time that had pieced backs.  I would like to suggest that I design them all, these days but to be honest I am a much more reactive creator, than proactive!  If I have a piece of backing fabric large enough then I will use it.  There’s no point in making work after all!  But when my top is wider than the standard width of fabric then I get creative.

There are no rules, but as a guideline I would always suggest that you avoid trying to create centre lines and borders on backings.  It is really hard to ensure that everything lines up front and back, so best to avoid making things too difficult when it’s not necessary.  There is something very pleasing about asymmetry – the proper term for having things go a bit wonk!!  Just remember that asymmetry doesn’t mean unbalanced – you may want to add an extra element as I did in Eloise’s Stars.

Back of the quilt, Jazz Jam

Jazz Jam

Jazz Jam has a very simple pieced block.  It is just two pieces of fabric, but see how they don’t attempt to split the quilt into equal portions.  One third and two thirds is a nice balance,

I love this scrappy friendship star quilt.

Pieced back – Friendship Star quilt

Friendship Star Quilt

I have got some more backs to show you, but I will add them to this blog post later.  I need some good weather to get some photos and we seem to have moved back into Monsoon Season!

1 Comment

  1. Maggie

    Love the ideas for backing here Sheena…will have a go and let you know how it works out!


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