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: “Strip Tease” Table Runner Pattern & Tutorial


    “Strip Tease” Table Runner Finished Size: 17″ x 34 1/2″

    Items Needed:

    • 5/8 yard Focus Fabric
    • 1/4 yard Bleached (white) muslin
    • 1/4 yard Unbleached (ecru) muslin
    • FOUR (4) Dark Blue 2 1/2″ squares
    • FOUR (4) Medium Blue 2 1/2″ squares


    Quilt Therapy Instructions:

    • Cutting:
      • Focus Fabric:  Cut NINE (9) 2 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ strips
      • Bleached (white) muslin:  Cut FOUR (4) 2 1/2″ x 20″ strips
      • Unbleached (ecru) muslin:  Cut FOUR (4) 2 1/2″ x 20″ strips
      • Focus Fabric:  Cut TWO (2) 2″ x WOF strips for Binding
      • Backing Fabric:  Your choice of fabric color – 18″ x 37″
      • Quilt Batting:  18″ x 37″
    • Sew the Dark Blue 2 1/2″ squares to both ends of the Bleached (white) muslin.
    • Sew the Medium Blue Blue 2 1/2″ squares to both ends of the Unbleached (ecru) muslin.
    • Lay out all of your strips.  The Focus Fabric strips are the anchors for this table runner, they belong on both ends of the table runner as well as in-between the tonal strips.
    • Use your own creativity to decide where your Blue 2 1/2″ squares should be placed – remember the tonal aspect so be sure your placement is one Bleached (white) muslin strip set and then one Unbleached (ecru) muslin strip set.  From there, the placement is completely up to you.  Once you decide where you want each Bleached (white) muslin/Dark Blue strip and each Unbleached (ecru) muslin strip, cut the excess fabric from the strip.  The final length of the strip needs to equal 16 1/2″.  NOTE:  I left my tonal/blue strips just a bit longer than required so I could square everything up after sewing the table runner top together.
    • Now it is time to sew your strips together.  Begin with sewing one Focus Fabric strip to one of your tonal/blue strips.  The biggest thing you need to worry about, when sewing your strips together, is to always sew your strips in opposite directions.  This will make sure your strips remain straight without a curve in the finished product.  One good way to remember which direction you sewed your strips in is to place a pin at the end of each set of fabric strips, indicating which direction you started sewing from.  Press the strips in the direction of the Focus Fabric:


    • After sewing the first group of single strips into double strips, now it’s time to sew the double strips together (remember to sew from the opposite direction as the first seams were sewn):


    • All of the strips of fabric strips should now be sewn together.  Be sure to place the extra Focus Fabric strip to the end of your table runner on whichever tonal strip you is at the end.
    • Square up your table runner.  Make sure the fabric on both sides are the same length.



    • Table runner top all sewn, squared up and pressed:


    • Sew the binding strips together.  There will be at least 1/2 of a strip of Focus Fabric left from the cutting requirements above.  That is needed for the binding so cut the width down to 2″.  Then sew the two full and one partial 2″ binding strips together:


    • Make your quilt sandwich with the table runner top, batting & backing.  Pin into place to secure all three layers.


    • Quilt as desired:


    • Final step is to square up your table runner so that the batting & backing are the same size as the table runner top and then add your binding.  This table runner’s binding is 1/4″ on the front, whip-stitched on the back.  Enjoy!


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      Personal Quilt Records

      Why didn’t I think of documenting who and where my quilts went 30+ years ago when I started quilting?  My answer is that I didn’t think of it back in the days of my early quilts.

      After a few years, I did start to take photos of the quilts and afghans I made.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get name the photos so I could remember just who the gift went to.  So I have a stack of photos as a reminder, but I am not sure I could tell anyone who the items were given to.

      After I was diagnosed with MS and we realized the extent of the loss of my short- and long-term memory problems, I started asking the recipients of my quilts to take a digital photo and send it to me, so I could refer back to it and know who my quilts went to.  Unfortunately, my request hasn’t always been honored.

      There’s also a reason to document your quilts if you ever need to show your work to someone who is interested in purchasing or commissioning a quilt from you.  The stack of photos I have has been passed along to others many times and many quilts have been made based on quilts I had made in the past via those photos.

      But, here are a few suggestions for documenting quilts (or any type of handmade gift) that you make and give or gift away:

      1. Photo album:  A photo of the finished quilt before it is sent to its new home, plus a photo of the recipient (if possible) with their new quilt.  But take this one step further and write or type a little note, adding the information on where the quilt went and who it went to.  A date would be great, too.  If nothing else, take a photo of the tag on the quilt, then you could eliminate any further need to write anything.
      2. Write out information about your quilts.  This is a pretty thorough list items to help you:  This is even a more thorough form you can print and use:
      3. Personal Quilt Registry“, a book written by Lynne Fritz, offers a seemingly excellent opportunity to keep a record of your quilts – not just what you’ve gifted away but also those you have kept.
      4. Make a quilt journal:
      5. There’s also software you can purchase and use on your computer to document your quilts:

      There are many options for you to choose from to help you keep a record of your quilts.  What’s your favorite way?

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        Tutorial Tuesday: Half-Square Triangles

        Over and over again, half-square triangles (aka HSTs) are explained.  Over and over again, beginning quilters continue to have trouble making them.  I will add myself to debunk the HST myth.  It’s not magic, it’s just MATH!


        Start with two equal-sized squares*.  On the back side of the lightest square, draw a diagonal line, corner-to-corner, ONE (1) time.


        Diagonal line.


        With right sides together, sew 1/4″ on either side of the line you drew.


        Using a ruler and your rotary cutter, cut the square into triangles, ON the line you drew.


        Two triangles.


        Open them up and press toward the darkest fabric.  You have now made two HSTs!

        *A little quilter’s tip – cut the squares a tad larger than your pattern calls for.  Once you have pressed your HSTs, you can then square them up to be the exact finished size your pattern requires.

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          The Half-Square Triangle Formula Revealed!

          The Missouri Quilt Company has some super quilting tutorials on  You can subscribe to their feed so when they make a new tutorial video, it comes to your email inbox.  I have found that I dream about making quilt projects, just because the Missouri Quilt Company has shined their light on a better and/or smarter way to quilt!

          There has been one that has had me stumped for quite some time.  I was not going to stop until I figured out the fabric formula.  I have truly been practicing various sizes for half-square triangles, all with failure until (of course) I finally figured it out! Here is the video:

          First, let me say that in quilting, you should always clip your corners.  This video does not do that and it drives me a little batty.  Especially when using white fabric, once the pinwheels are put together, you can see the corners through the quilt.  NOT.  COOL.  It takes just a few extra seconds of your time to use a sharp scissors or rotary cutter to clip them – and you end up with a way better finished block and quilt!  Here is a photo of two of my pinwheels that have the corners clipped and two that do not:


          And here is the secret solution for the half-square triangle sizing.  My goal was to make that simple half-square triangle work for ANY size of blocks and not just for the charm squares that are shown in the video.  I set my sights on a 9″ (finished) pinwheel (9 1/2″ unfinished).  And the solution for what size squares I should use?  THREE (3) inches bigger than your unfinished block size!  This gives you a little bit of room to trim the edges of the half-square triangles so they are perfect!

          There you have it!  Go tell it on a mountain!  Share it with your quilting friends…and remember, you heard it here first!


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