Sunday, November 06, 2011

Backing Battles!

Last July in Iowa, Jo, Amy and some others of us took time out from the Iowa State Guild Retreat to go hit the quilt shop…they were having a HECK of a sale, and I know I didn’t need more fabric, but when stuff is $2.00 a yard and they are clearing it out…I’m going –—whether I need it or not! A girl can always use backings--

And the backing fabric has ALREADY been used! In fact, it never even made it past the “dumping ground table” to be folded and put into the cabinets….and it’s just as well. There is no room left to put it IN the cabinets, so let’s not go there!

But instead…I’ll show you what I did!

This is the backing of the string star I showed you in the machine HERE--

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This is NOT an accurate color portrayal of this purple fabric! It really behaved weirdly for my camera, but you get the idea…..I dug into the 6” orphan blocks and found enough that would extend this fabric to be big enough for the quilt. It was just a few inches too short otherwise. So even a pretty “plain and straightforward” back can be given a fun element by the simple addition of random blocks where the seam is.

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This close up shows you the pattern of the fabric, it’s got purple, magenta and orange, but THIS is not an accurate portrayal either! Poor camera, it’s so confused, it doesn’t know which color to focus on!

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The other end! Just simple little one-of-a-kind blocks….some of them the only remaining one of their “species” LOL! I’m so glad to have been able to use them up in this back!

And while on a roll, I pieced THIS back too:

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I can’t show you the front yet, but look at that insert! I had 4 String-X blocks that were not all the same size, and I would have had to make more to make them be a real quilt….instead I took them apart into halves. Joined the halves and inserted this row Charlie Brown Zig Zag style between the two lengths of green…in this case the inset will go side to side across the quilt back, rather than down the back from top to bottom.

Dig into that orphan box and see what you can clear out! It just makes for a fun back, doesn’t it?


  1. Wow! Your backs have neat personalities, I love them! But I quite confess, that I do not follow what you meant by taking apart the stringx blocks to make the Charlie Brown Zig Zag. I love that descriptive name and it has a good look to it too. Sure hope you will someday expound upon the explanation! Thanks Bonnie!

  2. Anonymous8:00 AM EST

    What a good idea! I have a bunch of orphan blocks and couldn't figure out what to do with them. I've extended my quilt backs with strips but never with blocks! Betcha can guess what I'm doing next time!!

  3. Because of you I have been saving the orphan blocks and putting them into my backs. I also have been using up fabric from the tops construction when I over buy for it and don't want to make another quilt from it, it always matches. Thank you for the inspiration to piece backs of quilts.

  4. Anonymous8:04 AM EST

    Ok, this is anonymous from the above comment. I never know what to put in the 'profile' box. So my name is Donna A; email garryra@iowatelecom.net.

  5. I love doing this with orphans blocks.....many of my quilt backs are pieced just this way. :0)
    It sure makes them one of a kind.... front and back... doesn't it?

    Happy sewing

  6. Anonymous9:18 AM EST

    Oh Bonnie, thank you for this timely post. I was almost in tears last night because I need 5 yds of backing fabric and I only have 4.5 yds. (I ordered it online and whoever cut it mis-measured) I am on my way to dig through the box of orphan blocks or I can throw together some string blocks and I'll be able to back the quilt. I know you've told us to do this before but your timing was impeccable with this post. Thanks, Beth

  7. I use all my leftovers from the front for the back, this way I don't add to the overflowing scrap bins, and I don't have to use yardage that could be used for another quilt top, or borders.

  8. Anonymous9:30 AM EST

    I like to piece my backs too. Just did one that kind of looks "woven" and posted it on my blog today.

    While helping out with judging I remember one judge calling it "Backing Art".

  9. You are a mind reader! I also bought some "on sale" material for backing and have found it short. I've been measuring and measuring try to strech the fabric to no avail. This hint of using some orphan blocks to extend the backing size is perfect! Shucks, I may just make a few more "orphans" that match the front and work them in. Cool! Thanks a million Bonnie!

  10. Great ideas! I am going to be piecing a back tomorrow and I know I need to add something to make it big enough--I added another border to the quilt at the last minute. This is very timely for me. Thanks!

  11. I love the green string quilt back! That's a fantastic idea! :)

  12. I enjoy your pieced backings so much, but I've never gotten around to making one. I worry about going throu extra seams as I hand quilt. I need to just bite the bullet and do it!

  13. What fun! I love pieced backs and espeically using another patterned fabric. Excellent use for leftover blocks!

  14. When I backed my DS and DDIL's wedding quilt I pieced a set of square in the square blocks from leftover fabrics from the top. I put a row of blocks top to bottom down the back creating a very contemporary look. I have a sneaking suspicion that the quilt spends more time back up than face up!

  15. Anonymous7:46 PM EST

    Love those backings. Now I want to make a slew of bright orphan blocks so I can jazz up the backs of my quilts. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  16. I've been cutting those 10.5 inch blocks you recommended before and using those as a back. Funny how fabric that seemed "difficult" ( and so got cut up for a back) improves this way! One thing I do different is throw in orphan blocks that can be trimmed to 10.5, and then off st the squares, so that I don't have to stress about all the corners matching. I'm a little math and accuracy challenged, so this keeps it fun for me!

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  18. What beautiful backs - thanks for the inspiration!

  19. I love this idea of piecing backs with extra & orphan blocks. While you are at it, I also piece in my quilt label. Just be sure to put the label in a ways from the side & bottom edges so your quilter doesn't have to slice it off when the backing gets trimmed.

  20. I love an interesting back! I have4 pieced left over blocks into my backs. I haved recently been using left over fabric from the front on the back rather than buying yardage. Slowly I am becoming more scrappy under your influence. :)


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