No matter which quilt pattern you are making, you are going to need backing fabric. When I first started quilting, this seemed overwhelming - buying enough fabric for the back of a quilt (especially a large quilt) can be very expensive. Over time, I have built up a pretty good stash of backing fabrics and I thought I would share some tips with you as well as some ideas about what kinds of backing fabrics will work best.
Stock Up During Sales
I always scout out sales for deals on background fabric. Here are a couple of suggestions for finding sales:
Follow your favorite shops on social media or subscribe to their newsletter. If a shop is having a sale, they are going to want to let you know about it. Make sure to follow your favorites on Instagram or Facebook and definitely make sure to subscribe to their newsletter - sometimes shops grant early access to sales for newsletter subscribers. (Side note - did you know that I have a newsletter and sometimes I have sales that are ONLY for newsletter subscribers? You can subscribe by clicking here).
Use the "sale" filter on Etsy. If you search for something on Etsy, there is an option to "filter" the results and there are options to only see items that are "On Sale" or with "Free Shipping." Sometimes this gives better results than others, but I have found some real steals through this method.
I am so excited to see the number of 108" fabric that are now available. It is so nice to not have to piece the backing fabric. They are so common that many shops have an entire section of just wideback prints.
Another nice thing about these wideback prints is that they tend to be a little bit cheaper than 44" wide fabric. If I need 4 yards of 44" wide fabric and it is $11/yard, that will cost me $44. If I an using a wideback print, I only need 2 yards for the same project. If it is $19/yard, then it is only $38. It makes even more financial sense for larger quilts.
I love using minky for quilt backs, but I do not like to piece minky. Did you know that it is available in 90" wide options? This 90" wide Cuddle has become a staple in my backing stash.
Know Which Size(s) You Will Need
Almost all of the quilts that I make are lap size quilts. Pretty much every lap size quilt will need around 4 yards of backing fabric, so I always buy 4 yard cuts. If I need less, I just trim it down a little and add the excess fabric to my stash.
I always keep a few 108" options around for larger quilts, and a few smaller cuts for baby quilts.
Know Which Style Will Work Best
If you are pre-buying fabric for quilts that you haven't made (or even planned yet) it can be a little tricky to know which colors or styles to purchase. No matter what, this is always going to be a little bit of a gamble but here are some tips.
Buy basics - I really like Speckled and Add it Up for this purpose, but pretty much every fabric company has lines of basic fabrics. These are usually just 1 or 2 colors and will be much easier to match with a quilt top.
Buy your absolutely favorite print no matter how many colors it has. If I find a backing fabric that I love (for example, this print by Rashida Coleman-Hale), I will make a quilt top to match it. These colorful prints are also a great option for scrap quilts.
Only Buy What You Like
A few years ago, there was a really great sale on some fabric from a designer that I really like. However, the prints that were actually on sale were some that I did not particularly like. I bought them anyway, because the fabric was only $5/yard but now those backing fabrics are still sitting in my stash almost 10 years later.
Everyone has their own opinion on what backing fabric should be, but I want to like my backing fabric as much as I like the quilt top.
Get it While You Can
Have you ever bought a bundle of fabric with plans to purchase a coordinating backing fabric later, only to find that the fabric is no longer available? As great as it is to get fabric at a discount, sometimes a fabric is popular and disappears quickly. If there is a fabric that you love, don't miss out!