Why shouldn’t your backside look as good as your front? 😉
If you want to keep from having headless unicorns or other such tragedies occurring on your quilt back, I’m here to help. Matching a quilt backing’s repeating pattern might sound like it is difficult, but I promise, with a few short steps and a glue stick, you’ll soon be wondering why you didn’t do it sooner. The end result is a seam so perfectly pieced together, it is nearly invisible. Really!
This tutorial can be used with any fabric with a repeating pattern, whether it be a big, bold novelty print (like unicorns) or a small swiss dot print.
I already mentioned the glue stick. But here’s a more official list of what you need.
- Fabric – okay so here’s the deal. When pattern matching a quilt back, I recommend having at least an extra 1/4 yard above what the pattern suggests. For example, if your quilt pattern calls for 4 yards of backing, make sure you have at least 4.25 yards
- Elmer’s glue stick
- Basic quilting supplies: Pins, iron, sewing machine, rotary cutter, ruler, self-healing mat
1. Lay your backing fabric down next to your quilt top. Instead of folding your fabric and cutting it in two like you usually would, you’re going to cut your first piece based on the size of your quilt top. The reason for this is because with repeating patterns, especially large ones, your joining seam can end up off-set. You want to make sure you’re ending up with enough fabric to cover your quilt top. Trust me, I’ve been there.
If you’re sending your quilt off to be long-armed, make sure your backing is to your longarmer’s length requirements.
2. Decide how much backing fabric you want above and beyond the size of your quilt top, and mark it with a pin. I like to leave about 3″ per side. Cut your fabric where you placed the pin. Set the remainder of your fabric aside for now.
3. Look at your fabric, it has two selvage edges. One selvage edge has all of the fabric’s information on it. The other selvage is either plain white or the same color as the rest of the fabric. This second selvage edge doesn’t usually have text.
4. Using the selvage edge without text, fold back about 1/2″ and press. The folded portion should be about 1/8″ past the edge of the selvage. This could be more than 1/2″, and that’s fine, you just want to make sure you’re folding back all of the selvage plus 1/8″. If your selvage is white, instead of the color of your fabric, fold back all the white plus 1/8″ of the colored fabric. Press the entire length of the selvage.
5. Time to join our two halves! Match the piece you just pressed to the second piece of fabric previously set aside.
6. Set the piece you pressed on top of the fabric at the first available pattern repeat. This is why having an extra 1/4 yard of backing fabric is recommended. You can see how below I’m losing quite a few inches from the top since this fabric is a large repeat. You’ll also be going in a few inches past the selvage to find the repeat.
7. Time for the almighty glue stick! Fold back about 6″-8″ of fabric and apply a light layer of glue to the selvage.
8. Align the fabric together and press down firmly to help the glue set.
9. Fold back another 6″-8″ and continue the process. The glue sets quickly so doing more than the recommended amount of inches can mean your glue sets before you align your fabric. It can be helpful to guide the fabric into the right spot by holding the fabric past where you applied the glue and aligning the pattern at that spot. When all of the selvage has been glued down, let the glue sit for about 5 minutes.
10. Time to sew! Sew on the crease you created when you pressed the selvage.
11. Trim off the excess fabric, lining up the ruler with the selvage edge you previously pressed.
12. Gently open up the seam, unsticking the glue. It should peel apart fairly easily.
13. On the right side of your fabric, press the seam open. It is recommended to press on the right side to avoid any glue reside on your iron.
14. Admire your pattern matching skills! You’re ready to baste!