Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Widening or Lengthening Backing Fabric to Fit Quilt

One of the things that I forgot to tell you in the last blog entry is why I sew the strips in the backing on an angle to lengthen or widen the fabric to fit the quilt. There are two reasons I do it this way instead of perfectly straight across or vertically.

The first reason is because if you do it my way you don't have to be so careful when layering the quilt to get it straight on the backing. With my method you can be off a little and it will never be seen but with adding a strip parallel to the sides you need to be much more exact and keep that strip you added very straight and parallel to the top and sides as you layer the quilt.

The second reason is that it takes less fabric to add more width to the backing. Yes - I said exactly what I meant. I will show you an example using orange copy paper. This first photo is of the copy paper before I cut it. (Pretend it is a piece of fabric you want to use for a quilt but it is too narrow to fit the quilt.
First you make a diagonal cut lengthwise across the fabric (orange paper). The cut can be at any angle but make sure each end of the cut lands somewhere on the top and bottom of the fabric like the cut on the paper below.
The next photo shows a ruler laid on the space (pretend I stitched a strip of fabric in this cut area.) It measures 1 1/2"
Now comes the interesting part, remember I said it took less fabric to widen the backing if you put it on an angle? Well look at the next photo with the ruler laid on the area that would have the strip stitched in. It measures 1/8" less than the first measurement. This isn't much but remember this is a small piece of paper and not a large piece of backing for a quilt. Think in terms of a backing to make a large quilt and a larger strip could be stitched in and it would be a bigger difference in measurement.
Another thing to note is the longer the cut (stretching it out and starting closer to the corners farther apart) the larger the difference in the two measurements will be and the more width you will get out of your strips. Look at the two photos below for this example. How you might interpret this into a real quilt is if you need a bigger amount to make the backing wide enough you might want to make your cut longer and cut almost corner to corner. I would caution you with this though, try not to make your cut the same difference from each of the corners and you won't have to be so particular on how you layer your quilt. (My examples are a little too even for my tastes.)
Notice the ruler above measures 1 1/2" and the one below is 1 1/4" so it is a greater width gained by making the cut at a bigger angle. Does that make sense?
The above examples are how to make the backing wider and the one photo below is how to make it longer to fit the quilt. You just cut from the right to the left sides. The same thing applies as to the longer the cut, the more you will gain in width from your strips.
I hope this explains some of what I did on the Linus Quilt backing. I cut both ways on that backing. First I inserted the blue strip. I cut some of the length I added off so that is why it isn't placed exactly on the left side or right side. After stitching that strip in I re-cut it the other direction and added the white colored strip. Makes an interesting back and made my red fabric big enough for the backing of this quilt.

As you can tell I didn't have enough of any of the light fabrics so they are pieced and I had to piece the length of blue too to make it long enough to fit in my cut. If anyone asks about this interesting back I will just tell them it is a design element not that it was necessary to make it big enough. I like to use a contrasting fabric from the main backing fabric to make it look like I intended to do it that way. You could use backing fabric to insert but the contrasting fabric is more interesting I think.

Any of you math whizzes out there probably already know this and I am sure there is some geometry theorem that explains all of this but it has been too many years since I studied geometry. It works for me and that is what is important!

Have most of my stuff ready for convention now - can't wait until Thursday.


Elaine Adair said...

8-)) I've seen this done and still can't quite figure out HOW it works, but yes it does.

Your back of that quilt is so unique - it added a LOT of interest to the back in addition to being a clever subject for conversation! Even hard-core quilters think YOU are now the math whiz! Thanks.

Elly D said...

Thank you for this tutorial on how to get a backing large enough for your quilt top. NEAT!! I will definitely try it out.

doris batting said...

very good idea, looks great, thanks!


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