Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Talk Backing

    This week has already started with ridiculous heat and a very tired me. A good pick me up or any dreary mood is quilting, and today we need to wrap our mind around the subject of quilt backing. I always believed the back side of a quilt was the one nobody really cared about.
    My heirloom antique style quilts are backed in traditional muslin. This rather natural and neutral approach feels light and homey, lending well to the thousands of tiny hand stitches that span it's space. For years this was my only backing plan; colors or pieced back fabric was not even a consideration.
    Recently the back of my quilts sported print and pattern. Staying close to my comfort zone, the fabric was mild in tone and very lending to the stitch patterns. When planning our spring picnic quilt, I left the back rather open and unassuming, unsure where your tastes may lie.
    These days many quilts sport flirty fun prints all over their backsides. My orange version of spring picnic hosts a soft cream back with small circular patterns- just a faint hint of yellow and brown. So how do you plan for a back? Well, you have to look hard.
    First things first. What are the dominant colors of the quilt top? Above, orange seems to jump out at me on first glance, followed by the blue pieces. Generally, I don't use the dominant color from the front allowing that to be the entire quilt's focal color. Instead, I look for the lighter elements. Here yellow, green, and a hint of brown are present as well as spots of cream.
     The reality is- it is your quilt and how or what you place on the back of it is entirely up to you. Some quilters add an applique or even a pieced strip into their backing as a way of giving a new unique touch. Here is where you could use the left over scraps from cutting the squares. My blue version of spring picnic didn't have much excess to speak of, so that isn't an option for this back.
      A few key points others have shared:
     **when in doubt, yellow always pulls it together. It seems the soft hint of yellow goes well with any quilt top color pallet.
     **decide your desire. Do you want it to seem almost reversible? Or a blended complement? My thought is- stick to the color pallet.
     **confidence is key. How confident are you with your quilting. Patterned or figured backing fabric will forgive any error and hide awkward or uneven stitches.
     **there are no rules. If you like it..use it. The quilt police will not come to your door and charge you with poor fabric choice.

      Take time this week to play with the idea of backing your quilt; no need to rush. Consider the elements, the colors, even the motifs on the top and settle in good with the choice you make.

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