Bar Graphs Pieced Backing Tutorial

Bar Graphs is the name I gave to the design of the pieced back I made for Colorful Chevrons. I like my backs to be just as fun and colorful as the original quilt, and many times they end up being even more modern than the fronts!

Bar Graphs

Strips of Color Backing by Christa Watson

I really like the chunky “bars and graphs” look to this design, so I thought I would share a tutorial with you on how I pieced this backing. After all, it could stand on it’s own as an independent quilt design.

Strips of Color

Bar Graphs 72″ x 88″

I started off with some basic measurements. Since my finished quilt size is approximately 64″ x 80″, I needed my backing to measure at least 4 inches larger on each side so that there would be “wiggle room” around the entire perimeter.

I also wanted to make sure that whatever design I chose would look okay once the top, bottom and sides were trimmed up. I designed the backing to be 72″ x 88″ with plenty of blank space on the top and bottom strips for trimming.

I started by sketching long colorful strips in a stair step design, filling in with dark blue solid for the negative space.

I used leftover Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids from the front of the quilt along with more of the dark navy.

The backing is basically a horizontal strippy quilt sewn together in rows. A list of yardage requirement and cutting dimensions are shown below:

Cutting StripsDark Blue Fabric – Approximately 4.5 yards. Cut (18) 8.5″ x 42″ strips. Piece them together to create the lengths shown in the above diagram

Colored Scraps – Approximately 1/4 yard of 9 different fabrics. Trim each piece to the lengths shown above. In some cases you can use a fat quarter where the pieces measure less than 22″ in length.

Colored Strips

Bar Graphs Pieced Together – Ready to Baste!

Join together the rectangles with 1/4″ seams to create each strip. Then join the strips to create the backing (or new quilt top). I prefer to press my seams open and I starch the whole piece when sewn together. This is especially helpful if you are making a pieced backing. It will help the quilt glide more smoothly under the machine.

When I basted my quilt, I was careful to line up the strips as straight as I could. I knew that a lot of the blue would be trimmed up from the top and bottom strips and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I used the same dark navy for the binding as well.

Here are pictures of the finished quilt, both front and back:

Colorful ChevronsBar Graphs


Click here for detailed shots of the quilting and more about the front.

Whether you use it for the back or front of your quilt, please share pictures of your progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along. Remember, you can make it yourself and make it your own. 🙂

EQI hope you enjoy making Bar Graphs. Click here for the EQ7 download and play around with different colorings, layouts and sizes.

Christa’s Soapbox – Teach Your Kids (and Friends) to Quilt!

This week my boys were out of town at scout camp, so it was just us girls! My daughter and I put the time to good use by starting on her summer quilt project. Last year she made her first quilt, and now she’s ready to make another.

Jenna's Jelly Roll StripsJenna selected Cosmo Cricket’s Chemistry Jelly Roll since pink is her favorite color.

We laid the strips out on her bed to come up with a simple yet striking quilt design. She cut each of the strips in half first and then began sewing them end to end to create long strips of fabric, sort of like a Jelly Roll 1600 quilt but with straight edges instead of mitered ones.

Jenna plans to applique her name and add hearts to the top. It’s going to be “sew” cute!

While we were sewing, my friend Marci decided to pop on by to join the fun. Her boys are also at camp and she needed help to make some modern quilt blocks for a swap she’s doing later this summer. Marci’s a more of a sewist than a quilter, but I’m converting her!Girl's Retreat!Marci is making fun wonky blocks in shades of grey using Kona Cotton Solids.  She cut randomly sized strips and sewed them together, using improvisational piecing wherever she needed to make the blocks big enough. They turned out great!

Kona Solids Neutral GreysModern Grey Blocks

Whew, all this blogging about what other people are doing makes me want to go work on my own projects now!