Christa’s Quilt Along 4.5 – Sea of Squares Pieced Backing

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Today I will show you two different ways to make a pieced quilt backing: (1) All from one fabric, or (2) from scraps and chunks. I have a little “cheater” disclaimer here. Since I am on vacation this week, I haven’t actually had time to sew my back together. Most of my tutorial pictures were designed in EQ7, but I’ll whip up my own back in no time when I return!

Step 1 – Measure Your Quilt Top

Sea of Squares Quilt Top

A good rule of thumb is to measure your quilt top and then add 4 inches around the perimeter on all four sides. This means you will take your quilt dimensions and add a total of 8 inches to each number. Let me demonstrate:

My quilt top measures 51″ x 62″ from raw edge to raw edge. I will add 8″ total giving me a needed back dimension of 59″ x 70″.

Step 2 – Calculate the Yardage Needed For One Fabric

The backing width I need is 59 inches as stated above. Rounding that up to the nearest 1/4 yard increment gives me 1.75 yards of fabric (or 63 inches). However, that will give me a length of just 44 inches from selvedge to selvedge (which I round down to 40 inches to account for seam allowances and trimmed edges). But  I need a total length of 70″.

Pieced Back 1 Fabric

Pieced Back 63″ x 80″

To solve this problem, I will need to double the amount of fabric purchased to 3.5 yards. This will allow me to use two 1.75 yard pieces and seam them together to get a total measurement of 63″ wide x 80″ long.

Step 3 – Calculate Pieced Sizes for a Scrappy Backing

If you like an artistic backing like I do, take your diagram above and subdivide it into smaller chunks and random pieces. Use your creativity and fabrics from your stash as a guide. Here’s one hint – if you have a lot of white in your quilt top like mine, try to use lighter fabrics on the back so they don’t show through to the front.

I will “draw” a pieced backing measuring 60″ x 70″ (for easy math) and fill it in like a puzzle, adding random chunks wherever I choose. My diagram looks nice and straight but you can certainly use improve techniques with more wonky lines to achieve a similar effect.

Pieced Back

Just remember that the outer 4-5 inches will be cut off so do not place any smaller chunks near the edges. For my diagram above, I have selected 10 chunks of fabric. Let’s look and see how they would be sewn together:

  • Add chunks 1, 2 and 3 together, then chunk 4
  • Sew 5 & 6 together, then add to piece 1-4
  • Next, sew 7-8 into one unit and 9-10 into another unit
  • Piece both of these sections together
  • Then add the top piece (1-6) to the bottom piece (7-10)

I will press seam allowances open and use a liberal amount of starch to keep everything tidy.

If you would like to follow my diagram exactly, here is how large you would cut each piece:

Pieced Back

  1. 8.5″ x 32.5″
  2. 12.5″ x 32.5″
  3. 20.5″ x 10.5″
  4. 20.5″ x 42.5″
  5. 20.5″ x 10.5″
  6. 20.5″ x 32.5″
  7. 14.5″ x 28.5″
  8. 18.5″ x 28.5″
  9. 28.5″ x 14.5″
  10. 28.5″ x 14.5″

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂

18 thoughts on “Christa’s Quilt Along 4.5 – Sea of Squares Pieced Backing

  1. Pat Lucas says:

    Just beautiful! My 82 year old friend Christa would do that! She now has dementia. I miss talking quilting with her. Thanks for posting!

    • Meredith DuHamel says:

      I was sitting up late tonight trying to figure out how to piece a 60″ X 80″ backing for my latest quilt–no kidding! I was so tired, so I quit and decided to check my e-mails instead. There was your article about quilt backing. Although I didn’t have enough matching fabrics to allow me to copy what you had done, I did finally figure out what to do. I decided to to do something very similar, just with fewer pieces. But you saved my day. Thanks so much!

    • Christa says:

      I calculated the measurements based on 1/4 inch seam allowances. If you would prefer to use 1/2 inch seam allowances, just add 1/4 inch to all of the measurements. 🙂

  2. Janice says:

    Great tutorial. I love a scrappy back, since then I can use the leftover fabrics from the front and not spend money on several yards of fabrics! Thanks for linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday:)

  3. Paula says:

    I love the scrappy backing you have created! In our Project Linus Chapter here in the Tri-cities of Washington State, we encourage using scrappy backs to use left over fabrics. When I’m putting kits together for our volunteers, I include all the cut strips, bindings that are scrappy, and many times also use a scrappy backing with left over fabrics to make good use of our fabric, as we are a non-profit organization. I think it adds interest to the quilt! Thanks for sharing all your fun ideas with us! Love your blog and look forward to it every week! Keep up the good work!

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