What do you put on the backs of your quilts?

I’ve been quilting for a long time–over thirty years–and I’ve gone through a number of “phases” from traditional quilter to modern contemporary. So it makes sense that I have a lot of fabric, and not all of it is appropriate for the fronts of the quilts I make now.

But I still love fabric of all kinds and I don’t want to get rid of what I have. So I put the old fabric on the backs!

Blooming Pieced Back in Process – Cindy Grisdela

It’s a little bit messy. I pin the quilt top on my design wall and then add chunks of fabric to cover the top. Usually I try to relate the back to the front in some fashion. In this case, the front is gold and purple, so these autumn themed batiks go with it pretty well.

Like a jigsaw puzzle, I start pressing and trimming the chunks so they fit together. In the photo above, the horizontal pieces on the top left have been trimmed and sewn. It’s fun to revisit these old fabrics and remember other quilts I made from them. And the sewing is relatively mindless, which is often just what I need after putting together an Improv quilt top with lots of decisions to make.

Blooming Pieced Back Finished – Cindy Grisdela

Above is the back finished. This is a big quilt–about 72″ square–so it used a lot of those batiks. And there were areas that didn’t fit quite right, so I had to add fillers. When that happens, I try to add the fillers in the middle somewhere and keep the larger chunks on the edges. The edges will be trimmed once the quilting is finished, and I don’t want to end up with a parallel seam too close to the outer edge.

“Blooming” quilt top – Cindy Grisdela

Above is the quilt top–I’m calling it Blooming. 

You can also choose to add leftover blocks or strips to the back.

Amish Nine Patch back – Cindy Grisdela


Cascades Back with Blocks – Cindy Grisdela

Of course, if you want your stitching to show on the back, a busy pieced back might not be the best choice. But I like the idea of having another composition on the back of my work–sort of like a secret. Plus I don’t have to buy more fabric just to put on the back!