Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Quilt's Got Back!

So I just finished a rather laaaaarge quilt top, and decided on this yummy print for the backing:

'Sinister Swarm' from the Field Study collection by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit

Since this is regular width (40-42'' wide) quilting fabric, and my quilt is much wider than that,  I needed to piece the back.

And, of course I wanted those ginormous butterflies to  match up nice and neat when I pieced the backing.  Here's how I did it and you can too:

First off, buy extra fabric.  I knew that the butterfly pattern repeat was going to be big, so I bought an extra ½ yard more than I normally would for a backing.

Wash and dry your fabric.  I like to air dry my fabric so the edges don't get all gnarly.

Fabric drying on the pool deck.  My friend Michele calls it 'patio candy'  :)

Cut one length of fabric the length of your quilt top, plus about 4 inches extra on the top and bottom. For example, if your quilt top is 75'' long, cut your fabric piece 83'' long.  Use your rotary cutter and ruler to neatly cut off one the selvage edges.  Iron that cut edge under ½''.  Set aside.

Lay remaining piece out on a flat surface. I recently started using our sadly neglected pingpong table for this purpose.  No more crawling around on the floor!!

Now lay your first piece of fabric next to the first one, matching the design on the folded under edge to the design on the second piece of fabric nearest to it's edge.  Use pins to hold this edge in place about an inch or so away from folded edge.

(You may have realized by now that your seam allowance will be ½'' on your pieced fabric.  That may be larger than you are used to, but the extra width will give you extra 'ground' for gluing in the next step.  And then later when you press the seam allowance open, the extra surface will make that step a bit easier too.)

Use a washable glue stick, (yep, just steal one from your kiddos- doesn't have to be a special quilting kind.  In fact, the cheaper the better for this use) and glue that seam down to the second piece of fabric.  Do a few inches at a time and take your time to match up the designs before sticking it down.  Use plenty o' glue- this seam is about to get man-handled in the next few steps, so make sure it's stuck down but good.  The glue stick will wash out later anyways.  The pins you used in the previous step should hold everything in place for you.  Let glue stick dry thoroughly.

Glue folded under edge fabric (left) to match pattern on first length of backing.

Now remove all the pins and fold back seamed side.

Replace pins, now perpendicular to seam.  I pin every 2 inches or so, just in case.

Take the backing to your sewing machine, and sew a seam directly on top of the fold line.

Fold fabric back and sew directly on pressed line.  Cinchy.

Use your rotary cutter to trim bottom layer of fabric even with top seam.

Now pry the seam open.  The cheap, washable glue stick is kind of brittle when dry, so it shouldn't be too difficult to separate.  Iron the seam open.

Trim larger side even with smaller side of fabric.

Trim with rotary cutter.

If your quilt is gargantuan like mine was, add another panel of fabric using the same method.

Et voila, perfectly matched seams!

Seam- all but invisible- can you find it?

Ps, you can use this method for other stuff too when you need to match patterns, like for making wide curtains or upholstery projects like headboards.  Handy, non?


  1. This fabric looks beautiful. I need to try your technique when matching seams. I get so frustrated trying to line things up

  2. Maravilloso y perfectamente explicado!

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