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Quilt Backs and Bindings

By Addy Harkavy, Pinetree Quiltworks.

Quilt Backs: Quilt tops have a habit of growing as we add more blocks, more borders around medallions, or modify our original plans as we go along. For quilters who prefer a backing made from a single fabric and purchase the backing after the top has been completed, this usually presents no problem. But for those of us who work in stages or figured a given number of yards for backing and are now short, it can be a creative challenge.

Here are some ideas for backings when you have too little of the backing fabric you'd planned to use or want to make your backing from your stash:

Not enough of originally chosen backing fabric:

1. You can make a "striped" back by piecing narrower strips of another fabric (or even strips pieced from other fabrics) between wider lengths of the backing you originally intended.
2. You could make the original backing fabric the center of the back and use other fabrics as a border. (If you do this, you might like the original backing candidate as the binding, too.)
3. Make a large block - a 9-patch or any other block you like - from the fabrics you used for the quilt top and then use your original backing candidate to surround that block for the rest of the back. You could even put the large block on point.

Backings from your stash: Backings that look like giant 9-patches, 4-patches, or other blocks can be super backings that make your quilt reversible without adding a lot of bulky seams, You can use up some of the fabric left over from your quilt top and add coordinating fabrics from your stash, or you can just hit your stash for likely candidates.

Bindings: In some future newsletter we'll discuss tips for making better bindings. But for now, one of the questions we are most frequently asked is how to select a binding fabric if you don't have enough of or don't want to use one of the fabrics that was in the quilt top. A solid fabric that coordinates with the fabrics in the top and the back is always a good choice, but a print or textured fabric that picks up the colors in the quilt can add a really special touch. We have a lot of fun with stripes, small dots, and busy multi-color prints cut into bias binding. If the part of the quilt that touches the binding is lighter in value, a darker or brighter binding may be just what it takes to set off and frame for quilt top.

Addy Harkavy 2003. Reprinted with permission by Addy Harkavy.

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