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  1. #1
    Machine Stitcher

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    Default Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    I am very new to quilting. I have finished 5 quilt tops but have not tackled backing, quilting, and binding yet. I wanted to know the differences in backing material. For example: Are muslins softer than cottons? Which is more durable? Does a soft fleece work? Pros and cons of various backing materials? Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    Yes, muslins are different than regular quilting cottons. I like a muslin back, but not everyone does. It is easy to find it in very wide yardage, so it is nice to use as you don't have to piece it. I couldn't say which is more durable. Soft fleece does work. It generally doesn't shrink at all, so you might consider pre-washing your cottons (but don't pre-wash the pre-cuts). I have never used fleece as a back, but others will be able to give their opinion on using it.

    One other backing that is reasonable is a sheet. You can generally find sheets at great prices. I like using 100% cotton sheets. Back when I did all hand quilting I avoided them because the density of the weave made them hard to quilt through. Now that I use a machine I don't care.
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  4. #3
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    I use cotton yardage for the backing of my quilts. I have never bought the 108" wide backing fabrics. I would never use muslin, because I think it's too cheap & won't last as long as 100% cotton yardage. Also, I want the back to look pretty, too. I make my baby quilts no wider than 39", so I can use the full WOF in one long piece for the back. If my quilt is larger, I piece the backing. Many people are making quilt blocks & making a very fancy backing that looks almost as good as the front, so the quilt is reversible. Some folks are using flannel for the backing. It's recommended that flannel be pre-washed, as it shrinks more than the reg. cotton fabric. The quilter is the designer, so go for what looks good to you. If you're new to quilting, I'd try for one large piece of backing to begin with. If you piece it, use at least a 1/2" seam, rather than the 1/4", & press the seams open.

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  6. #4
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    I adore wide backings, and as they become more popular, you can get them in a wider variety of designs. But for snuggle softness and easy quilting, I think a nice quality flannel feels wonderful, and really works well for baby quilts. I do preshrink my flannel before using it as backing.

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  8. #5
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    Connie, Craftsy has a free class on quilt backs. You may want to take a look at that.

    I have used muslin, quilters cotton, sheets, 108" backing, but not flannel yet, to back my quilts. I think the best approach to take is this: How is the quilt going to be used?? Will it be washed often? Just for show? A wallhanging? Each of these may require a different backing. I use sheets for frequently washed quilts. After all sheets were designed for heavy washing, no? If it is to be only a "show not use" quilt, then muslin is ok. It will not be as soft (unless you wash it before quilting), but it will serve its purpose.

    How you back your quilts is up to you, you are in fact the designer and have final say.....remember, there is no "wrong" way to finish your own creation. There are no quilt police here. Some of us have more experience than others, but never feel you have to measure up to someone else's standards. Enjoy your quilting. It should be fun and rewarding to you.

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  10. #6
    Block Queen

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    I usually use yardage for my backings, and since most of my recent quilts have been bed size they have to be pieced. But I also want them to be pretty. I have never used muslin, mainly because my long arm quilter doesn't like them. Both fleece and flannel make a nice soft warm backing and come in attractive colors and designs, but make sure they are of good quality. I bought mine only in quilt shops and they were as expensive as good quality yardage. I bought inexpensive fleece at a big box store to make a design wall and I would never want to use that quality to back a quilt. Flannel needs to be preshrunk. Enjoy.

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  12. #7
    The Guild President

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    I usually use the leftover fabric from the front of the quilt. The quilt that I made for my parents to match their curtains that I made was almost as cool on the back as the front. Mom would often flip the quilt over and use the back as the front....so much for making such a great front.

    I have made a few quilts that I used sheets on. I was not comfortable with it and felt that it lowered the quality of the quilt. I made a few quilt in a day and used the flannel on the back as well. The son I made it for was suitably unimpressed with it and the work I had invested in it. I was also not impressed with the colors. I don't tend to use browns and tans and I think that helped drown it..but I still have it and will cuddle under it every so often.

    What ever back you choose, make sure that not only are you happy, but that you feel that the recipient is pleased with it also.

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  14. #8
    Binding Belle

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    There are some very nice muslins available (Moda's Primitive Muslin line comes to mind) that I love to use for backing - it's not the cheap stuff you find at the box stores that seamstresses use for patterns.

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  16. #9
    Designer Diva

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    Personally, I don't care to use muslin or sheets for quilt backing. I reserve those fabrics for either FMQ practice or as foundation fabric when doing foundation piecing. I, personally, like the look of coordinating fabric on the back and generally use fabric from the same line as I use for the front in a coordinating pattern and color. I will also use complimentary batiks for the back if I can't find something else in the line or if I am using fabrics from different lines.

    That being said, muslin and sheets, while being cotton, are generally a different weight and weave, so you need to be careful about shrinkage vs. the front when using either. Same for flannels. But the difference I see in flannels is that they generally come in a bigger variety of prints so you have a better choice.
    My soul is fed with needle and thread, my body with chocolate!

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  18. #10
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: Quilt backings. Can you explain the differences in backings?

    I really like wide backing fabrics (100% cotton). That way I do not have to piece the backs. Further, the long lengths left over work beautifully for binding.
    Lately, I have been using flannel backing (also available in wide widths). The flannel has a softer warmer feel than cotton but requires pre-washing. Also flannel has a reduced tendency to pucker during quilting.
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