Purple Passion – Quilt Back

Assembled the back for Purple Passion yesterday. The point was to use up leftovers and retain enough of the purple grunge fabric to be able to bind the quilt without having to buy more fabric!

Purple Passion – Quilt Back

I used leftover blocks from the quilt top, cut in half to assemble the narrow pieced strip, then used large blocks of the leftover fabrics to create a wide strip. I decided this time not to insert the strip but to use it as a panel on one side, instead.

Then I set up the quilt sandwich – I’ve described how I do this somewhere in the blog but can’t find the specific post. When I started quilting, I would tape the quilt back to the floor, lay the batting on top, then position the quilt top, smooth out the whole thing and pin.

Pinning The Quilt Sandwich

But getting up and down has become difficult – it’s an age thing – and one day I tried rolling each layer on a pool noodle, and working on my dining room table. That made assembling the quilt sandwich quite a bit easier.

One day it dawned on me that 1 x 4 boards would provide some weight and allow me to apply a bit of tension to each layer as I progressively pinned the sandwich. That’s what you see here. Each layer is rolled on a board, the layers placed on top of one another. I will pin the exposed layers, roll that part up and continue pinning until I’ve reached the other end, taking care to keep the quilt back as smooth as possible. I’m working on my cutting table which is a good height for this step – I don’t have to bend over as I did on my dining room table – much easier on my back.

I’m now ready to begin pinning. Once that’s done, I will stitch-in-the-ditch to stabilize the sashing and outline the narrow drop shadow border. Then I’ll quilt each block once I’ve created an embroidery for this quilt.

Quilt Back

Quilt back is also completed. I used the leftover bits to create four blocks like the ones on the top, and inserted uncut blocks of the original strips. With sashing I was able to get a 12″ strip to insert in the back. Now I’m ready to assemble the quilt – I’ll get that done later today. My next task is to create an embroidery design for quilting the quilt.

Quilt Back

The back looks wrinkled even though I’ve pressed it, but it will be taut once I’ve pinned the layers together and hooping each block to quilt it will tighten all the layers so the quilt will lay flat.

Quilt Backs

Yesterday, Melanie McNeil (Catbird Quilt Studio) posted a piece on pieced quilt backs.

That got me thinking about the piecing I do for quilt backs. She says she prefers a solid back (here quilts are bed size) – I prefer the adventure of piecing (I generally make lap quilts). The challenge for me is to get away with a single length of quilt backing fabric and filling in the width with leftovers from the top, retaining something from the character of the top but at the same time creating a new piecing. Most of my back piecing involves a wide strip, although occasionally I’ll do a block of some sort surrounded by backing fabric – it depends on just how much backing fabric I actually have to work with!

Here are some quilt backs:

#1 – This is the latest quilt (Improv Quilt) – a strip/block because my strip wasn’t long enough and I fortunately had just enough backing fabric to border the strip converting it to a block.

Improv Quilt – Back

#2 –  An opportunity to try some flying geese. The original blocks were all in shades of indigo but I decided to insert one gold triangle in each and it made a huge difference to the strip.

#3 – From the red/black/white strips quilt. The quilt top looks like three Venetian blinds with a red background. The grey backing reflects the fabrics used in the piecing from the top, with the red accents.

#4 – This back was for the Starburst Quilt: I had no fabric leftover from the quilt top so I decided to use  other indigo fabrics highlighted with the turquoise and green elements.

#5 – The inspiration for this quilt back came from a quilt by Weeks Ringle – it backs the Pick-Up-Sticks Quilt:

#6 – This is the back of the Medallion Quilt: I had just enough of the border fabric leftover to create these four mitred blocks. I decided to rotate them rather than keep them all facing the same direction. Spaced them out, offset top to bottom, with backing fabric because I had a lot of it.

Quilt Back

#7 – This back is from the Grey-Yellow Quilt: I had a lot of half-square triangles left over from the front. I decided to array them as a spiral. The panel is offset top/bottom, and left/right. My quilts are all modern quilts – they need asymmetry to look “right”.

#8 – This back is from Improvisation #6 – Asian fabrics, drunkard’s path quilt. I had several slightly smaller blocks left over. I decided to do a more conventional drunkard’s path layout with single complete circle near the top of the strip.

#9 – The back of the Asian Strips Quilt: I did the piecing of the on-point squares, added the filler and realized I still needed border/sashing to offset the insert strip from the backing fabric.


Obviously I have many more quilt backs I could showcase here, but these are enough to illustrate how I see a quilt back. All of my quilts are “double” quilts – they can be used either side – for me, that’s part of the challenge/adventure of improvisational quilt making.