Fabric Options: The Best Fabric for Quilt Backing

Looking for the best fabric for your quilt backing? From quilting cottons (standard size and extra-large) to alternative fabrics, here are some great quilting fabric options to help you finish your quilt, from front to back!

Baby Boy Quilt - Craftsy Member Project Baby Boy Quilt via Craftsy member Sophie Belle

Let’s explore how to choose fabric for quilt backing

Quilting cotton

Perhaps the most popular quilt backing is plain or patterned quilting cotton. When you choose fabric for a quilt backing, you will want to measure your quilt top and add several inches to the length and width, which will be the measurement for your quilt backing.

For crib-size quilts like the Baby Boy Quilt pictured above, you’ll often be able to using a single cut of fabric to cover the entire quilt back. This makes patterned fabrics are a great option!

For larger quilts, you may need to piece together two cuts of backing fabric to make a quilt backing that’s large enough for your quilt. This is because many quilting cottons are only 42″ to 44″ wide. If you prefer to skip this step, you can look for extra-wide quilting fabric that’s up to 108″ wide, which makes a great quilt backing for bed-size quilts.

Note: Quilters Paradise offers a helpful quilt backing and batting calculator to determine the measurements you’ll need for your quilt.

Giant Vintage Star Quilt, on Craftsy
Giant Vintage Star Quilt via Craftsy member Jeni Baker

Bed sheets

Because they already come in large, bed-size pieces, sheets make excellent quilt backs! Vintage sheets, like this one seen in the Giant Vintage Star Quilt pictured above, can often be picked up at thrift shops and yard sales at a budget price. In addition to being larger than a normal cut of quilting fabric, solid and patterned bed sheets are typically soft, making for extra-cozy quilt backs.

Pinwheel and Prairie Point Baby Quilt Pinwheel and Prairie Point Baby Quilt via Craftsy member Amanda

Pieced Quilt Backs

Some quilters choose to decorate their quilt backs with some blocks featured on the quilt front, or just use several cuts of quilting cotton. The Pinwheel and Prairie Point Baby Quilt is one example of a pieced quilt backing. Just like with solid backing fabrics, you’ll want to remember to add several inches to the length and width of the pieced quilt backing when making your quilt sandwich.

For more tips on sewing pieced quilt backs, check out the free Craftsy course Creative Quilt Backs taught by Elizabeth Hartman!

Minky Quilt Backings - Craftsy.comBrown Minky Baby via Craftsy member Hemmed In

Minky backing

Soft and luxurious, minky fabric is a great quilt backing that can be used on baby quilts or larger projects. It is available in textures such as the dimple fabric shown on the Brown Minky Baby Blanket above, as well as prints and non-textured solids.

Quilting stitches will show up differently only minky fabric than on regular quilting cotton, and the thicker texture may even make it more forgiving.

Check out these tips and tricks you can use when quilting with minky, as well as this tutorial from Ann Peterson on backing a quilt with minky fabric.

What’s your go-to fabric for quilt backings? Do you prefer the look of pieced or solid quilt backs?

8 Comments

Vixanna robbel

I have always been told that sheets were inappropriate for backing because of the thread count and that for a long arm machine it will possibly make holes in the fabric .

Reply
Cindy

I have a friend who has a long arm machine and she often will use a sheet for backing. I have used a sheet 2 times and have not experienced any issues.

Reply
Cindy

I have also backed my larger (king and queen) projects with quilting flannel resulting in the finished project being a little heaver and cozier. Love using flannel!

Reply
Carol

I use sheets all the time as i quilt my own, but I know that some long arm quilters refuse jobs using bed sheets.

Reply
Beth

When using a sheet for backing, should it be a certain thread count?

Reply
Lindsay Conner

Beth, I’ve used vintage sheets for quilt backs before (from thrift stores), and I noticed that they are a little lighter and softer than new bed sheets. I think they work well!

Reply
Barbara Yates

I have been told since the beginning that sheets are NEVER to be used for backing. They are too heavy, and do not work well. I am relying on advice from people who are much more knowledgeable and experienced than I am. Of course, I never see the instruction to cut away the fabric behind appliqués any more, either, and that was a specific instruction when I began quilting, I wonder, why the change?

Reply
Donna

I have also heard in my quilt group that you should not use sheets because they have high thread count especially that I hand quilt

Reply

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