The Fantastic Science of Making a Rockin' Quilt Back!

When I was first starting out as a quilter, one of the hardest things for me to do was figure out how much fabric I needed to make the right size quilt back. For years my QuiltMom tried to teach me, and I couldn't grasp the concept. One day it just clicked. 

I never realized how many of my readers are self-taught quilters like me! I'm very proud of you. Sometimes it's tough roughin' it on your own, but luckily there are so many outlets these days- YouTube, blogs, free PDF downloads directly from fabric websites, all kinds of crazy tutorials! It's bananas. 

So....question for you...

Are your backs whack? Do you need a hand?

I have two main ways that I make backs that are kind of my favorite systems. I find that if I do this, I usually don't fail!

This is a great option for a quilt that is less than 2-widths, or about 80" inches, in length, so for a generous throw. This also works best for a multi-directional fabric, but can work for a fabric that is more linear if you take the time and plan the placement. I tend to go for really busy backs-and usually sale fabric. I'm giving away all my secrets now!


Let's just say for the sake of example that your desired quilt back is 50x60 inches- maybe a throw, maybe not, but a little larger than a baby-sized quilt. What's the perfect amount of fabric to cut without wasting a bunch? Note: this is for the desired quilt back size- if you are a home quilter or a long-armer, your requirements may differ. Usually a long-arm quilter needs at least 6 inches extra on the width and length, but most home machine quilters require very little difference between top size and back size. Just a helpful tidbit! 

Back to the numbers. I would take the longest side of the quilt- the 60" part- and focus only on that number. I would then cut a 60" piece.  Take that number and divide it in half-in our case, 30"-and then cut a 30" piece. 

Here comes the tricky part!!!!!!!!!

Slice the piece of fabric on the fold, slice the selvages off (optional, but I like to do it because it's nice and clean and makes our long-arm quilter happy) and put those pieces on top of each other and stitch them together. Don't sew them together exactly the same way you sliced them apart, because that'll defeat the purpose (can't you tell I've done that before?!). Length of fabric, not width of fabric. 

Then, press your seams- some argue pressing to one side, in the case of backs, not only do I like to do a little larger seam, like a 3/8" seam, but I like to press them open to distribute the bulk a little bit. Just me though, you are free to do whatever makes the prettiest quilt. After pressing you'll find that you have almost the same size piece as the 60" piece you cut earlier! Cut one side of the selvage off of your 60" and sew the piece you just made to that piece. Then cut the other selvage off. I always cut it off last, so I don't get confused about which side to sew on-a good habit for a beginner who is just learning the number aspect of quilting, or someone like me who sometimes gets numbers confused. 

Now, you should have a back that looks like the picture! 

Tip: I tend to draw this out on paper if I am trying to figure out the right pieces to cut. It helps a lot to draw it so that you can plan the placement of the pieces. If you are confused, email me at remnantsfiberculture at gmail dot com and I can explain it more in depth. 


If you prefer to use a directional fabric, this back may be a better option.

This is also a great option for a quilt that is just slightly larger than a width of fabric (a net of about 40") but too small to justify using two widths of fabric. It's also great if you have a back that is larger than 2 widths of fabric but smaller than 3- I'm sure you get the idea.

For the sake of example, let's say the width of your quilt is 52 and the length is 70. We can assume that we'll yield about 40 inches from the width of the fabric. If we split our fabric on the fold, we'll get the two yellow pieces. The [teal] piece can be about 12-13 inches wide, and you'll need to seam it once, so I'd buy 3/4 of a yard just to be safe of your [teal] piece. Seam your [teal] piece together and sew it to one side of the [yellow], and then to the other side. I like to trim the excess off after I'm done seaming both sides, and then the selvages last. I personally cut my selvages off before I pin it on the quilting machine, because I find that the selvages tug a little bit and are a slightly tighter weave than the rest of the fabric.


Crisp, clean and to the point.


Same concept, but for our asymmetrical friends, or for those of us that can't cut straight and want our eye to trick us a little bit. (Guilty as charged!)

I come to find that I use these back techniques in my everyday quilting life, and I would be lost if I haven't figured out these simple concepts.

There are a million other ways to make backs, including using orphan quilt blocks that didn't make it to the top. I'm sure I'll be posting more soon!

I wanted to highlight an awesome quilter that frequents my shop and always delivers a slightly different style. She's great with batiks and great with modern and non-traditional style quilts.

Molly Guzzino made this for a family member that was getting married. They loved it so much, they took it on their honeymoon with them!

This is a little bit of closeup detail. I was honored to be the gal that got to quilt this for the lucky couple! The pattern is by Karla Alexander from the book Color Shuffle. This particular pattern is called Somersault. As Molly explained it to me, you start out making a straight seam, and then it turns into a curved seam and is apparently a really easy technique. I'll be sure to borrow or buy the book so that I can get in on this easy curves action!

I love to show off quilts that I've quilted, or quilts that are just plain awesome. If you'd like to take my mind off rap music for a while and back onto quilts (haha!), shoot me an email at remnantsfiberculture[at]blogspot[dotcom] and I will show it off!


I just want to stop again and say thank you. So many people have called and emailed me and have outpoured support. Starting a business by itself is tough, and coupling that with a very sick family member can be crippling. I'm sorry to anyone that was offended or upset by my hospital post-all I can say is, I'm a human being that at times can be sad or upset, just as all other humans I know. If your first time visiting my blog was greeted by my angry bitter life-sucks attitude, I'm sorry! I'm actually REALLY nice, promise. I'm grateful for the wonderful guests that I have that are continuing to bring me their beautiful quilts. It's my quilting that is truly getting me thru this difficult time. 

That being said, I'm starting a few meetups at my shop here in Austin starting in October. If you'd like more information about meeting up here and stitching away with some other awesome, like-minded quilters, I welcome your email to remnantsfiberculture[at]gmail[dotcom] or your phone call to 888-TO-QUILT or 512-821-1511. 

If you'd like more information about how you can send me a top to quilt for you, you can also email or call the store-I'm always there from 10-6 Tuesday thru Saturday, and I answer my email almost by the hour. 

OH! I almost forgot! I am OBSESSED with instagram!

I took this snapshot after I found this jelly roll at my sister Sammy's house. We had been playing in her stash. As if I need any more fabric! BUT. Can you believe my poor little waif, my poor Sam-Sam has NEVER HEARD OF TULA PINK?! And she had this in her stash!!! I was shocked, horrified, humiliated even. But God has blessed me with understanding- I asked her, how in the WORLD do you have this jelly roll?! I then proceeded to tell her what hideous fabric this was and how she should just throw it away, or I would be glad to take it off her hands and dispose of it properly by giving it to the little starving children. You know, the ones on tv you can sponsor for 42 cents. Then when that didn't work, I offered her $80 for it! HAHAHA! In the end, she just popped it in my bag. So Tula, baby, just sayin, I rescued this little beaute and am now going to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Tula Troops fo' life!

If you want to see photos of fabric I stole from my sister, or my homemade cooking, or whatever quilt I'm currently working on, you can follow me- @jessicaksloan is my handle. More often than not, if we have new fabric coming in, it goes up on Instagram before it goes on Facebook or Twitter!

You can follow me on both FB and Twitter too:
Twitter @fiber_culture