I love vintage quilts, and one of the things about vintage quilts that I love is when quilters had to be ingenious about the back of their quilts because they didn't HAVE a quilt shop to march to to find a perfectly matching, complimentary back for their quilt. I love things like 'substitution'...when they thought they wanted a green border, but the green they had only went 3/4 the way around the quilt, so they had to finish up by substituting in a second shade of green. Much more interesting!
I think muslin is also completely appropriate for a vintage looking quilt back whether it's an 1800's repro, or a 1930's repro or anything in between or after. Muslin IS the stuff that many quilts were made of, and I love how it quilts up.
I love things that just appear "wrong" at first glance sometimes because it gives me a glimpse into the quilt maker's life and that is more interesting to me. Like the back of many amish quilts...they weren't ALL solids. Lots of them had prints on the BACK, or checks..they were allowed to use these as the BACK of the quilt (in some amish communities, not all) because it wouldn't be seen, and it was an appropriate back. I think it makes the quilts more interesting. A bit unexpected.
When it boils down to it...what is "appropriate" or "interesting" or "compatible" are ALL just OPINIONS that will differ with each quilt or each beholder. What "goes" and what doesn't is strictly a matter of opinion and always will be.
If I had a limited stash, and were new to quilting maybe I'd go back-buying after construction, but if I were dealing in minis of any variety, it doesn't take much for a backing and I'd likely have something that would work already in my stash. I was thinking of bigger quilts from lap size to bed size, and I still wouldn't march out there and hit the quilt shop for a back as an after thought.I love the vintage quilts in which flour/feed sacks were used for backing, many times with the label of the flour mill or feed manufacturer still visible on the back, in plain sight for all to see. This adds interest, and this is appropriate in my eyes. Using up leftover fabrics from the front of the quilt to construct an interesting back is completely complimentary to me.
If I didn't have as large of a stash as I do, if my mind hadn't been changed over the past few years to using what I have. (thinking more like our quilting ancestors and their resources)..If this were the way I shopped, Or maybe if my quilt were strictly for "show and tell" and not going to charity or for someone I loved to use until it fell apart, I can see buying a back after the top was done with these thoughts about being complimentary and interesting in mind. I guess then it wouldn't be about what *I* thought was appropriate for a backing, but I would be focusing on what "others" would think was appropriate for a backing. And again, we are back to dealing with nothing but opinions, that will likely change from person to person.
I'd sure wish I lived closer to Mary Jo's....and Id be heading for the sale fabrics first because "complimentary" or "interesting" does not mean full retail price to me either. :c) I am always on the lookout for sales for good candidates for backing fabrics so I *DO* have some on hand to choose from and I don't think because I buy them with no particular quilt in mind that they are uninteresting or uncomplimentary. I think it's just good quilt-cents.
Sometimes I will purposely put something "wrong" in one of my quilts, because even though I am making a vintage era looking quilt, I want it to be a representation of fabrics that are in my scrap-stash too. Scrap quilts of yesteryear were made with fabrics obtained through daily living, making clothes, making bedding, and they used fabrics from their own era that they lived in to make quilts that showed which fabrics they lived with daily.
My scraps and scrap quilts are from fabrics that I use daily, even tho I'm not clothes making anymore, I'm not using scraps from making aprons, skirts, blouses, dresses.....I do have scraps from all my sewing projects and the quilts I make with the scraps that I have are like a library of fabrics that have been through my hands and my life. I love the vintage "look" but I also like the feel of using what I have on hand, just as if it were as limited a scrap bag as I would be pulling from had I lived in 1870 or 1935.
It's okay with me if someone thinks my backing fabrics are just "wrong" or don't go with the quilt, or if the fabrics in my quilt are NOT all exact 1800's reproductions, as long as it has the right feel to me, and I have found a home for the scraps that I love, because it is my opionion that gives me the most satisfaction in the completed quilt, front and back.
Like always, just opinions :c)