How to Master Quilt Backing (Works for Wall Hangings too!)

How to Master Quilt Backing (Works for Wall Hangings too!)

Welcome back to our blog! It’s Melissa from the Creative Team here, back with a new topic to cover. This week’s post, centered around quilt backing, was driven by our customer submissions. Give this one a read, then use these helpful hints when working on your next quilting project for stunning end results.

Normally with any Anita Goodesign Mix & Match Quilting Collection, we will include step-by-step instructions on how to stitch out the individual blocks for the design. Depending the type of collection, like large releases or even tile scenes, we will even go into detail on piecing these quilt blocks together into your finished quilt or wall hanging. For collections that don’t directly show how to finish your quilt, we’ve often referred readers to the About Us PDF that we include with every collection and All Access issue. In that document, there are many helpful resources, such as a chart assisting with block size choices, a fabric chart to help calculate yardage, and even the Finishing Your Quilt Instructions.

In this week’s post, I wanted to go into a little more detail on our finishing instructions to help guide you through adding on a back fabric with no lumps or bumps. Hopefully, with a little extra info on how and why we back our quilts the way we do, you’ll find it much less intimidating to finish up your projects…rather than letting them sit for months (which I know many of us are guilty of doing)! To make things more interesting, I wanted to feature the finishing images we used in our most recent Special Edition from August, Ol’ Anita Had a Farm.

It is important to remember that there is no “right” way to create a quilt, if you end up with a bound and backed project, however you got there is a method you can certainly use, and our way is just one of many!

HOW TO MASTER QUILT BACKING WITH NO LUMPS OR BUMPS

DISCLAIMER: In order to make things less complicated, I will start out this bonus instruction assuming that if you are needing to finish a quilt or wall hanging, you will have already joined your blocks together to form your quilt top at this point.

STEP 1 of QUILT BACKING

Quilt Backing

With all of your blocks joined together into your quilt top, you are now ready to begin the quilt backing process. At this point, you will want to use a steam iron to butterfly press open your 1/2″ seams across the entire back of the quilt top. The reason we so often mention leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance on your blocks is how much easier pressing seams will become!

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A 1/2″ of fabric is easier to work with for quilting beginners, but if you’re a quilt and backing pro, feel free to adjust your seams to the measurements your prefer—just be sure to keep things consistent! Butterfly-pressing is another VERY helpful way to prevent bumps. Rather than pressing the seams to one side or the other, separating the two seam allowances and pressing them open and flat will reduce the feel of “speed bumps,” or the bulk of the seams, when you run your hand across the back of the quilt.

STEP 2 of QUILT BACKING

Quilt Backing

Once the seams are all steam pressed open, lay a large cut of your back fabric right side facing down on your work surface. You will then lay the quilt top over it, with the right side facing up. Using scissors or a rotary cutter and ruler to trim the back fabric to about 2-4 inches larger than your quilt top.

PLEASE NOTE: In traditional quilting, you would also need a layer of batting between the back fabric and your quilt top. The reason we DO NOT add that layer of batting is because the batting is always incorporated within Anita Goodesign’s block designs, eliminating that extra step for you later! For the best feel to your quilt, we recommend using a good quality batting in your actual block designs, such as Warm and Natural or even Bamboo batting for a cozy and light finish that won’t weigh down the quilt.

STEP 3

The next step is another helpful way to ensure there’s minimal bumps on the back of your quilt or wall hanging: using a temporary adhesive to join the back and quilt top. With the back fabric cut to your needed size, rearrange your quilt top to lay right side facing down onto your work surface, with the back fabric laying right side facing up over top of it. Using a temporary spray adhesive, like 505 Spray, you can add a light misting of the spray adhesive to the quilt top’s back side, slowly laying the back fabric over it and gently pressing to join the layers.

This is a great method to prevent the layers from shifting when working on your machine, and can be used in conjunction with safety pinning or even used instead of the pins altogether. Once joined together, you can roll up the quilt neatly to about halfway, leaving the area exposed near the center blocks where you will begin sewing.

STEP 4

Stitch in the Ditch

Now, begin to “stitch in the ditch,” which means simply to sew on the top side of your quilt directly in-between joined blocks, helping to conceal the top stitching while it secures the back fabric to the quilt.

We recommend always starting in the center of your quilt and working towards the edges. By doing this, you are better able to push any bubbles or bumps the in the fabric outwards to the edges while sewing, again creating a cleaner finish on the back.

STEP 5

Square Up, Quilting

Once you have sewn both vertically and horizontally across your quilt between all the blocks, you are ready to square up the quilt. Position your quilt right side facing up over a cutting surface, and use a rotary cutter and ruler to cleanly trim away any excess back fabric, cutting the seams to match the 1/2″ seam of your blocks.

Your quilt or wall hanging should look something like this on the front and back once you have sewn through all the “ditches” of the blocks:

STEP 6

Now that you have a smooth and clean back on your project, it’s time to finish it off with the binding! Following the instructions provided in the collection you are stitching (or referring back to the About Us PDF that  I mentioned earlier), sew and attach your binding strips to your quilt until you have reached your starting point again.

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With the binding strip attached to the quilt top and secured around, the quilt will look something like the image on the left. Secure your binding by stitching from the top of the quilt, just inside the edge of the binding, with a coordinating or clear thread choice.

Finished Ol' Anita Had a Farm Quilt

Congratulations, your finished quilt or wall hanging is now ready to display with a smooth back and finish! I hope you found these extra  quilt backing tips helpful. If you love the charming farm quilt featured in this blog post’s pictures, you can snag this one and more variations in the Ol’ Anita Had a Farm Special Edition release (also in All Access August 2020).

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