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The Best Way to Piece Your Quilt Back

The Best Way to Piece Your Quilt Back
By: Joyce Mitchel
DbarJ Quilts etc

Most people who wish to piece a quilt back and by that I mean sew strips of fabric together that will compliment the quilt top, will just sew a long seam that will run down the middle of the quilt back. Although this works, it is not the best way to accomplish the task. If quilter’s would sew their seams across the width of the quilt they would be much happier with the outcome.
The following is a list of reasons why seams across the width is the better way to sew fabric together for your quilt back.

1. When the seam is sewn to go the length of the quilt you don’t have to sew
as many pieces of fabric together. But, this seam will cause the back to
pull funny when it is put in a frame or on a quilting machine reel. The
middle of the back, where there is several thickness of fabric will roll up
shorter than the outside edges and cause these edges to sag. By sewing
the seam across the width of the quilt the back will roll up even, because
the seam will be horizontal with the reel.
2. When the back is sewn in the lengthwise fashion, usually the salvage is
left on the fabric pieces. This just adds to the thickness of the middle,
not to mention that there is 0 give to the salvage. This is also eliminated
when the seam goes across the quilt. Although it is always best to cut
away the salvage, it will only be a problem to hand quilter’s in the
widthwise version.
3. The straight of the grain does not stretch, whereas the cross grain of the
fabric has just a little give to it. If you make your seam go lengthwise,
you need your back longer than the quilt top be several inches (I prefer
8″). When you piece a top you normally have bias pieces as well as a
verity of others, some of the pieces may be quite small while other are
larger. Every one of those seams are going to have a little stretch in
them even when cut on the straight of the grain because of the pull on the
stitches. It is not unheard of for a quilt to sometimes grow as much as 2
inches in any direction because of the fact.
4. When you put a quilt back on the reel of a machine quilter, in order to
stabilize the quilt you put clamps on the sides while quilting. The cross
grain of the fabric will always have a little stretch in it. If the clamps are
attached to the cross grain of the fabric then the mere weight of the
clamp will cause the back to stretch a little more wherever it is attached.
5. Putting the cross grain going the length of the quilt also will help you
when you go to bind the quilt. Those long sides will not be as likely to
turn out wavy.
6. Many times when someone is piecing their back, in order to get it wide
enough for a queen or king size quilt they will have to sew three strips of
fabric together. One of the strips may just be 8 – 12″ wide. Now you
end up with one side of the back wanting to roll up shorter and you will
have to fight with that droop the whole quilt.

In conclusion: Are you saving money or fabric? Not really, when your Quilter calls you up and tells you that she still has quilt top but the back is a little short. I would say if your were going to do the quilting yourself, go ahead and place the seams wherever you wish. But, If you are asking someone else to work on this quilt then be kind and thoughtful and try to relieve some of the struggle by sewing your seam across the quilt.
I hope this has helped you in some small way with your quilt making process. Unless you have ever used this method and seen the end results of the quilt, you are probably wondering what the big deal is. All I am asking is that you give it a try, you just might like it.

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