You know I like to make scrap quilts and that is not just because they are pretty and colorful and just the most fun to sew. I also like to make scrap quilts because they are resourceful and make good use of the fabric that I already purchased.
Another way that I like to make good use of my fabric purchase is by using extra backing fabric. You can certainly do this with either 44" wide fabric or 108" wide fabric, but I find that I generally buy colorful, large scale prints when I am buying 44" wide fabric so it doesn't work as well as a background fabric — I just add those leftovers to my stash and treat them like normal yardage.
More and more often, I have been buying wideback fabric for my quilts because (1) they don't require a seam, (2) they tend to be a little less expensive than buying 44" wide fabric for a quilt backing, and (3) there are fun, cute options available. Many of these fabrics are basic prints (Speckled, Widescreen, etc.) so they have an added benefit: they work well as background fabric.
Since I mostly make lap quilts, after cutting away the extra wideback fabric, I *might* have enough fabric left for the background fabric on another project and being resourceful like this brings me so much joy. I am truly a fabric nerd.
Let's say for example, that I am making the Verity Quilt (which is my next pattern). I normally stock up on backing fabrics and buy 4 yards of 44" wide fabric or 2 yards of 108" wide fabric (lots of times 108" fabric is available by the yard or by the 1/2 yard and I would always rather have a little too much than too little).
This pattern happens to require 3 1/2 yards of 44" wide backing fabric or 1 3/4 yard of 108" wide fabric so I already know I'm going to have some extra fabric from the length as well as the width.
The quilt top is 54" x 66" and I want at least 4" extra on each side so I need a backing piece that is 62" x 74". I'm going to start by cutting off the extra width — I will cut off a 34" (108 - 74 = 34).
Now I need to cut off the extra length, so I will cut off a 10" piece (72 - 62 = 10).
Total Leftover Fabric Yardage
The two pieces that I have left are 34" x 72" and 10" x 74", but how much fabric is that really? You are left with the equivalent of about 2 yards of fabric!
Is Wideback Fabric Different from Regular Quilting Yardage?
You might find the texture of the fabric a little different from regular quilting yardage. Ruby Star Society uses sateen for their wideback prints and other manufacturer's fabrics might feel a little different but I have done this many, many times and have never had an issue.
Which Wideback Prints Would Work Well?
Are Wideback Prints Less Expensive than Using Standard Yardage?
This is going to depend on a lot of factors, but let's compare purchasing 4 yards of 44" wide fabric to 2 yards of 108" fabric which is what you would need to make most lap size quilts. I will use the prices at Fat Quarter Shop for comparison since they have a good selection of wideback prints.
4 yards of Architextures Grey Crosshatch x $11.48/yd = $45.92
2 yards of Widescreen Grey Crosshatch x $19.98/yd = $39.96
Not only is it cheaper, but using the example above of the Verity Quilt Pattern, if I had purchased 4 yards of 44" wide fabric, I would have the equivalent of less than a yard leftover and if I had purchased 2 yards of 108" wide fabric, I would have the equivalent of 2 yards leftover.
In Conclusion . . .
I am always looking for ways to be more efficient and this has been a fun way to make good use of pretty fabric. I hope it helps you make use of what you have!