Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Musings on the Quilt Back - Part 1

Good Morning!  Many of you know that I started learning how to quilt almost 8 years ago when I was pregnant with my first daughter.  I had a big pile of fabric given to me by my sister, a sewing machine I bought at Walmart and a few books borrowed from a neighbor.  It was so exciting - finishing up my first top.  Then I realized that I had to make a back.  Argh!  Nothing in the pile of scraps was big enough.  So, I started sewing a bunch of those pieces together - no regard for squaring up the fabric.  It was not fun and very tedious.

Fast forward to about 3 years ago when I got my first Longarm.  I loaded my first quilt.  Let's just say- an eye opening experience.  Not only was my top off but my back was really crooked too.  It was not pretty.  I am writing this because, believe it or not, the quilt back is just as important as the top.  For most of us it is an after thought.  The thing we have to do to finish our quilt.  So, in an effort to provide some guidance, here are a few tips to ensure that your quilt back lies nice and flat on my frame:

1.  Your quilt back needs to be squared up.  Not literally (unless your quilt top is square, then your quilt back will be square) but top and bottom and sides need to be straight.  This is how you square up your back.  After your quilt back is made, fold the quilt back in half (wrong sides together) top and bottom meeting at the top.  Place your hands about 3 feet apart on top of the quilt back and look at how your quilt back hangs.  If it is not perfectly straight, then adjust the fabric with your fingers (left or right) until it is hanging straight.  Once it is hanging straight, fold the quilt back in half again bringing the sides together.  If the sides are not perfectly straight, then trim off the sides.  Now your quilt back is "squared" up.  You will be surprised - the way the fabric was cut, the way it was sewn together, how many seams you have.  I have folded quilt backs and the sides were off by more than 10 inches. 

2.  Please make sure you have 4 inches of extra fabric on EACH SIDE of the quilt back.  If your quilt top is 50 x 50, then the back should be 58 x 58.  If you don't have 4 inches extra each side, then I may not be able to get a good clamp on the back.  If the quilt back is larger than 4 inches, then the back will act like it has wings and as I continue to roll it on the frame, it will cause puckers or pleats.  A lot of us will sew two pieces of fabric together.  The width is spot on but the length is up to 20-30 inches more.  4 inches each side please.

3.  Please use a 1/2 inch seam on the back.  I know - we use 1/4 inch seams on top but when I add tension to your quilt back, those 1/4 inch seams close up but the 1/2 inch seams pop open nicely and lie flat.  Be sure to always press the seams on the quilt back OPEN.  Please don't use seams larger than 1/2 inch.  I didn't measure, but I have had a few quilt backs where the seams were close to an inch or more wider.  They opened up nicely but I noticed as I rolled and quilted that the seams bunched up causing bulk on the quilt.  Not so pretty........

Remember, I can not see the quilt back once it is rolled onto the frame.  Making sure it is squared up and the right size will help ensure that I can get it as smooth as possible.  I have many more tips, but I will post more in another posting.  Quilt Backs can be very creative and fun - almost as much fun or more than the top.  I will talk about that tomorrow.  Stay tuned!!!

I also finished up Harry Potter - it is so amazing!  I'll get my camera and get those pictures posted this afternoon.

Take care!  Richla

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