Monday, August 29, 2016

Creating Quilt Backs

When I first started quilting, my lessons came from one of the fabric store owners in town. Her story is probably similar to many others who open small shops. She loved quilting and had money to buy whatever fabric she wanted. Yet, like most of us, she could not quilt as fast as she built up her stash. It was overwhelming her home. The only thing left to her was to open a store. She could quilt all day, and even got deep discounts on fabric. Yet, even with this perfect set-up, some fabrics did not get sold and she could not quilt fast enough. Her method of making quilt backs was pretty standard for quilters of this era who seemed to have unlimited funds to buy and buy and stash and stash.

It takes at least 4 yards for smaller quilt backs. And a bolt, while it says it holds 10 yards, usually is closer to holding 9. One needs at least 10 yards to make a larger quilt.

how-to-quilt/finishing/preparing-quilt-back  I researched quilt back construction and couldn't get a comprehensive history on it. Some folks I know use muslin. Others look for extra wide fabrics. Many, myself included, bought enough fabric to piece it and yet have it look like a solid finish using the method shown in the link above.

Then, quilters created ways to use larger leftovers of coordinating fabrics. I've used this method too, especially when I had so many larger leftovers. And then as my scraps began to dwindle as I made more and more quilts, my backs became a simple series of random squares. 

I had started cutting my leftovers into certain size squares such as 10", 8", 6", 5", 4", 3", and 2.5". At first I went through the 10" squares to make a back, and then kept using them as I could. I found a way to use 2.5" strips. While I took photos of all my quilts front and back, they are somewhere in cyber space between releasing my IMac and embracing this PC. (Well, not quite embracing!)

Now, I am actually making easier quilts and using them as backs. This RAINBOW BABY pattern will work for backs on the wedding quilt and the MN WILD quilt. When I say easier, I mean that the pattern calls it easy and for a beginner. I guess they are, yet they still take time and energy to make. There is cutting, pinning, piecing, pressing many times until it measures just a little larger than the top.

And they are time consuming because there is an art to being random. One needs to think in terms of color, contrast and coordination. Just like the example above, to look good means planning. To be good takes work. To think good takes living with value.

And while I did a bit of piecing already, its time to head out to the Kern River and Remington Hot Springs.