Sewing Backing for a Quilt

You have purchased 10 yards of 42” fabric to use for the backing on a quilt. Now what do you

  1. You need to cut off the selvage with a rotary cutter and ruler.
  2. Cut the fabric in half so you end up with TWO (2) 5‐yard pieces of fabric.
  3. Press each 5‐yard cut, making sure the ‘fold’ is pressed out of them.
  4. With right sides together, line up the two 5 yard cuts and sew them together on EACH SIDE. Use a 5/8” seam allowance and press both seams OPEN. You will end up with a long tube.
  5. Lay your tube out so you can draw a line on the back of one of the fabrics. Draw your line in the CENTER of the 5 yard strip ‐ equal distance between the two sewn seams.
  6. CUT just the ONE fabric that you drew on, from end‐to‐end of your tube, ON the line you drew on.
  7. Your fabric is now ready for backing your quilt.

The reason for doing this is mostly for fabric strength. The most used areas (and hence, the
most damage areas after regular quilt usage) of a quilt is the binding and the backing. You do
not want a seam down the center of the backing ‐ too much stress is put on that area of a quilt
‐ think of two people laying under a quilt and one pulls it one way and the other pulls it their
way. That stresses out a center seam on the back of a quilt. You also want to press the
seam open because if you press it to one side (as you do on most quilt tops), it will be bulky in
that area. By putting your backing seams on the sides of the quilt back, the center remains

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    Tutorial Tuesday: Picture Perfect Flying Geese

    One of the first things I notice, when looking at a quilt, is the ends/points of the triangles (if there are triangles in the quilt).  I am my own worse critic and have been known to rip out stitches a time or six before I am satisfied with the points on my flying geese.

    My 1/4″ seam allowance is checked three and four times before, during and after I am working on a quilt project.  I make sure to measure twice, cut once.  Even with all of that, I still find that I occasionally cut off points of triangles.

    Then I had a revelation.  What can be done to keep from cutting off my triangle points?



    This concept isn’t that difficult to understand although it will change the finished size of your blocks and quilt just a tad.

    ADD 1/4″ to the strip you are sewing your top square to.  For example, with the tutorial below, the original size of my strip called for a 4 1/4″ x 8″ strip.  Instead, I cut the strip 4 1/2″ x 8″.  Follow the tutorial below to see how perfect your triangle points can be.

    Fabric Requirements:

    • ONE (1) 8″ square focus fabric
    • FOUR (4) 4 1/4″ squares triangle/points fabric
    • FOUR (4) 4 1/2″ x 8″ strips flying geese strips
    • FOUR (4) 4 1/2″ squares block cornerstones



    ONE (1) 8″ square


    FOUR (4) 4 1/4″ squares


    Draw a diagonal like, corner-to-corner, on the BACK side of the 4 1/4″ squares


    Line up the 4 1/4″ squares to the top corner of the 4 1/2″ x 8″ strips and sew ON the line you drew.


    Cut off the corner of the flying geese block, 1/4″ inch FROM the sewing line.


    Press your seam toward the 4 1/4″ square.


    Repeat the process to sew the second 4 1/4″ square to the opposite side of the 4 1/2″ x 8″ square.


    Trim off the corner fabric 1/4″ FROM the sewing line.


    Press toward the second corner.


    Using TWO (2) of the flying geese blocks, sew the 4 1/2″ cornerstones to the ends of both of your flying geese.


    With the remaining flying geese, sew them to the right and left sides of the 8″ square.  Press toward the center fabric.


    Pin and sew the top and bottom (the strips with the cornerstones) flying geese strips to the center section of the blocks.


    That’s all there is to it!  Now go forth and create Picture Perfect Flying Geese!


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      Geometric and Directional Fabric No-No

      All the quilting rage these days is to use geometric and directional fabric designs – now known as part of the modern quilt movement.  Mind you, there have been directional and geometric fabrics around for a long time, it’s just that a lot of the modern quilts are made with geometric and directional fabrics.  Sometimes though, this is not the best course of action for a beginning quilter.  A beginner can be as modern as they want…until they can’t.

      When is that a problem?  Take a look at this quilt block:


      With the right fabrics (right being deemed by the modern quilt movement’s establishment) and colors, a simple log cabin quilt can become a thing of modern beauty.  Now take a closer look at the plaid red and white fabric strips.

      I had been quilting for about 25 years when I made this quilt block.  And I made this “beginning quilter’s” mistake.  The lines on the fabric are not straight.

      I can call this whatever I want – the fabric wasn’t printed straight on the grain, the fabric shifted when I cut it out, it’s handmade and looks handmade, etc. etc.  I can call it whatever I want to, but the truth is that I would never recommend this type geometric/directional fabric to a beginning quilter.  If a person who has been quilting for as long as I’ve been quilting cannot cut a straight line in the fabric, how can I expect a beginning quilter to do so?

      Please remain calm.  This is not a post on bashing modern quilts.  It’s not a post on bashing fabric manufacturers.  This is a post outlining why I choose not to design quilts with geometric and/or directional fabrics – I design quilts for beginners and above!

      If you are a beginning quilter and wish to make modern quilts, stick with a pleasing color palate without the geometric and dimensional fabrics.  You can grow into them as your quilting advances.  Or if you use those fabrics mentioned and your lines do not come out straight – go ahead and call your quilt a handmade modern quilt.

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        Quilting Naked

        I’m cruising along, chain piecing quilt blocks with umpteen hundreds of quilt pieces. A song, that becomes a quilt cadence in my head, is on repeat and I am in the ‘quilt zone.’

        I’ve pressed the seams and am getting ready to add the next set of fabric to my blocks. I organize the already sewn pieces lying on one of my legs with the pieces to be sewn to the fabrics on my laying right leg.


        I continue with my blocks, adding the next sets of fabric to my original ones, pressing along the way, still in
        the ‘quilt zone.’ I am getting anxious, excited even, because I’m on my last piece of fabric for each quilt block. I put the unfinished blocks from one thigh and the final piece of fabric from my other thigh into the sewing machine, one
        piece after the other. I am now extremely focused and obsessed. I cannot possibly stop anywhere in this
        sewing process, until I finish sewing this last piece on my blocks and press the seams. I’m a force to be reckoned

        My anticipation is mounting. Three more to go…two more to go…final block sewn! I bask in my glory of putting
        all of the blocks together so quickly. No errors, no mismatched seams ‐ quilt piecing at its finest.

        I stand up, needing to stretch my hunched over shoulders and stressed back (because I’ve sewn with my
        shoulders hunched over) and trim apart the blocks so I can press them, all nice and pretty. Oh the pure joy I
        feel! I am super‐quilt‐woman!

        I sit back down and pick up the last block sewn so I can cut them apart. Where is all this thread coming from?
        I have a string of thread a mile long and wonder if my spare spool that sits beside my sewing spool on my
        sewing machine, that I use for my bobbin thread, has gotten tied up in my quilt blocks ‐ you know, because I
        am super‐quilt‐woman and sewed so fast it dislodged the end of the thread spool and got caught in my
        blocks somewhere.

        Instead of trying to find out where that extra thread came from, I figure that I’ll be careful when cutting my
        chain pieced blocks apart and find the end of that spool of thread along the way.

        I pull the first block toward me and am now completely dumbfounded. What happened? What in the heck
        happened??? I pull the next block toward me and the next block and the next block…and all of the blocks,
        from about the middle of the first block I sewed, were naked. I lost my magical super‐quilt‐woman powers.
        Right there. My emblem was ripped from my chest, my wrist pin holders and even my SOCKS were repossessed
        by the quilting powers that be. I hung my head in shame. I think I have a tear in my eye, too. My ‘quilt zone’ disappears. I have just sewn umpteen quilt blocks naked. Oh, don’t worry, I’m not naked (ewww)…but my stitching is! And you know that long thread I couldn’t figure out where it came from was? Yup. It was right where it was supposed to be ‐ attached to that first quilt block, in the exact spot where my sewing machine ran out of bobbin thread. Quilting naked, indeed. Pass me a tissue, please.

        © 2015 ~ Tammy Harrison ~ All Rights Reserved. Tammy Harrison is a wife, mother of four teenagers (gulp) and uses Quilt Therapy and humor to entertain herself. You can find Tammy online at

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          No Room at the Inn

          Normally, I wouldn’t share my sewing room mess with anyone.  But, these are desperate times!  My quilt studio should be finished this week – and not a moment too soon!  These photos will show you just how full my current sewing room in our house is:


          My sewing machine is barely noticeable on my sewing table.


          My shelves are overflowing and I have run out of room to store things under my cutting table.


          Bolts of muslin in front of boxes and boxes and more boxes.


          My mailing station, such as it is.

          Tammy’s Quilt Studio or BUST!

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