Shades of Grey – Pieced Backing Tutorial

I love to make pieced backings and by popular request I’m sharing with you a tutorial on how to put one together. This goes with my String of Pearls Quilt Along.

Shades of Grey Backing

Shades of Grey Pieced Quilt Back, 72″ x 72″

Before we start, there are a few things to consider. First of all, how big is your quilt top? You want to sketch out a backing design that leaves plenty of wiggle room around the sides. A good rule of thumb is to make your backing at least 6 inches larger than your quilt top.

String of Pearls

String of Pearls Quilt Top 66″ x 66″

For example, my String of Pearls quilt finishes approximately 66″ x 66″. Therefore, I need to have a backing that measures about 72″ x 72″. That’s a nice measurement because 72 inches is the same as 2 yards, so you can visualize a backing roughly 2 yards wide by 2 yards long.

One Fabric Backing

Backing, One Fabric, 72″ x 72″

The second thing to consider is, do you want to make your backing from all one fabric (most efficient), or would you like to make it a little more artistic (my favorite)?

The solid backing above requires 4 yards of fabric (two – 2 yard lengths). Join them with a seam down the middle making a rectangle of approximately 72″ x 80″. Trim off about 8″, making a 72 inch square and throw the excess into your scrap bucket.

Finally, you need to decide ahead of time if you will be quilting the quilt yourself, or hiring a longarmer to do it for you. When quilting yourself, you can get away with less extra around the sides.

When sending a quilt out for professional quilting, however, you may need more fabric around the edges for the longarmer to work with. She also may request that your seams need to run either horizontal or vertical depending on how she loads the quilt on the machine. Be sure to check ahead of time (or just quilt it yourself like I love to do!)

One Fabric Backing

Leftover Pearls

When deciding on a pieced back, I like to incorporate leftover fabrics or blocks from the top to give it a little interest.

Pieced BackingFirst, I lay the quilt top on the floor or a large table, then start randomly placing leftover pieces of fabric on top until it’s covered. I rearrange all my pieces as needed until I’m happy with the layout.

Pieced BackingNext, I will trim up my pieces and start joining them together in sections until my backing is big enough to overlap the top on all sides by at least 3 inches. Remember, it will shrink up some with seam allowances, so be sure to add more if needed.

Pieced Backing Diagram

Pieced Backing Diagram

For your convenience, I have included cutting diagrams for my pieced back. The measurements include seam allowances. Note, the pieced Pearl Bracelets section is made from 12 (3.5″ x 4.5″) rectangles to create a 3.5″ x 36.5″ unit.

Voila! Time for basting!

For more inspiration on making a pieced backing, check out Elizabeth Hartman’s FREE online Craftsy class, “Creative Quilt Backs.”

You can also see how I made these pieced backs by clicking the links below the pictures:

Hugs N Kisses BackSea of Squares Pieced Back

Charming Chevrons Pieced Back


Hugs ‘N Kisses Pieced Backing Tutorial
Sea of Squares Pieced Backing Tutorial
Charming Chevrons Pieced Backing Tutorial

14 thoughts on “Shades of Grey – Pieced Backing Tutorial

  1. bertcollections says:

    I loved pieced backs, and often end up with one because a quilt grows larger than I originally planned ;-). The pieced backs are a great way to add some extra pizzazz to a quilt and use the leftovers at the same time. Another thing I like to do with leftover fabric is make a bag or wrap for storing the quilt in and add a tag with the care instructions to it. Finally after that I’ll scrap or swap the remaining pieces. There’s always something else to sew! :-D

  2. lattegirl40 says:

    Love the quilt backing!! That will be so helpful the next time I do a backing!! I don’t know what I was thinking and jumped ahead and did my backing already!! Making a rookie mistake along the way, but got it done and ready for the quilting stage!!

  3. catrinmanel says:

    I’m just about to tackle a rather large quilt back, (I’ve taken the existing backing off and want a simpler pieced back). Your post has given me great ideas. Thanks

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