Revisiting the BAMaQG IRR

BAMaQG IRR, in 2018
BAMaQG IRR, in 2018

After the Big Stitch class, I started thinking about the BAMaQG IRR project. This is one of the projects on the 26 Projects list that I had low hopes of getting done. Now I feel better about the project’s completion because I think that it would be a good venue for Big Stitch.

I talked with Julie about my idea at dinner the other night. I need to square it up, then make a back. My thought is that I will do some minimal machine quilting and then use Big Stitch to stitch the rest together. Alternatively, I will just Big Stitch the whole thing and skip the machine quilting. I’ll get it into the hoop a lot faster if I skip the machine quilting piece.  I will have to baste, which is a trial any way you look at it. I could use a big hand project like this right about now, so stay tuned.

The last time I thought about this project was in June of 2016! I think it is good to attend a class and have it stay on your mind after the class ends.


Stars Return

You might remember me talking about the first star donation top. I don’t always get to see the finished product, but last week at the BAM meeting, I got to see it finished.

Star Donation Quilt
Star Donation Quilt

Erin quilted it. She doesn’t make a lot of her own quilts, so she quilts a massive number of charity quilts.

The setting looks pretty boring compared to Stars #2 and Stars #3, but I had to make it in order to get to those two. Erin’s quilting makes it look a lot better!

I was thrilled to collaborate with Erin and look forward to seeing what she does next.

Finished: Down the Drain

Down the Drain: Finished
Down the Drain: Finished

I finally finished Down the Drain on Friday night. Completely finished: quilting done, binding on, sleeve sewn down. Done.

First, as I mentioned, I finished the quilting. Of course I could have stopped any time, but was clearly on a mission. I kept quilting minutely almost every single open space.

I finished hand sewing the binding on earlier this week. Normally, the combination of tightly woven fabric (an AGF solid) and Aurifil make for slow going, but the combination worked great! My needle went through the fabric with no problem and I sewed the binding in only about 4 hours.

I stitched the sleeve down in only about 2 hours. The whole process of making this quilting was so relatively painless. The experience was not and continues not to be painless. The actual process of making the quilt went so smoothly. I guess it was meant to be.

Posts about Down the Drain

  1. I Have a Secret – 8/6/2017
  2. Art Quilt Start: Background – 8/8/2017
  3. Art Quilt: River of Sorrow – 8/10/2017
  4. Art Quilt: Border 1 – 8/13/2017
  5. Art Quilt: Quilting Finished – 9/17/2017

Cityscape Returns

Along with Flowerburst, I also got back this quilt, which I wish I had called Cityscape. It really does look like a cityscape.

Cityscape- back from the quilter
Cityscape- back from the quilter

I have sewn on the binding. I worked at sewing one whole side per evening so the binding process only took me about 8 hours. The quilt is 82″ x 84″ so quite a bit of work. I used a Kona solid for the back and the binding and it was a pain. The needle doesn’t slide through that fabric like I think it should. I MUST remember that.

Cityscape - detail
Cityscape – detail

The red is the background and I had Colleen think of it as a sky and put clouds in it. She did four different types of clouds in the four quadrants. I think of it as the four seasons.

Cityscape - detail
Cityscape – detail

The black and grey are more like buildings, so she did more geometric quilting in those areas.

Now I need to put a sleeve on it.

Flowerburst Returns

Flowerburst returned from the quilter about a week and a half ago. I have had so many other projects going on that I haven’t had time to post about it. I haven’t really worked on it either, so there hasn’t been much to say.

Flowerburst - ready to bind
Flowerburst – ready to bind

As you might remember, Flowerburst is a large quilt made from a pattern in Kathy Doughty’s book, Adding Layers. I wrote a review about that book. Have you read it?

The photo is a little odd as I had to lay the quilt out on my living room floor and take the photo from the upstairs hallway (I have an open plan, mid-century modern house). When I get my other quilt hanger back from college and the quilt is bound, I’ll take another photo.

This was supposed to be a quick project and it was relatively. I didn’t like the directions, mostly because I had to conserve fabric, so I used different methods to cut the backgrounds, which meant I didn’t have as many leftovers as I would have if I had used KD’s methods. I understand the reasoning behind her cutting directions: she had to write directions for everyone not just for me, the person with the fabric shortage.

Flowerburst - detail
Flowerburst – detail

I like the way this quilt turned out. I liked using my big prints on the front for a change even though I will be gifting this quilt and won’t get to see those lovely prints very often.

I really like the idea of combining different sized blocks and think this, or a variation of this, pattern has potential for other layouts. I am thinking that a slightly larger block in the center with the smaller block would have worked as well. I think there could have been some transparency work as well, if I were willing to do a larger quilt.

Flowerburst - detail
Flowerburst – detail

A couple of the prints are Martha Negley prints, but they go so well with the Philip Jacobs prints.

The print on sea green with the flowers and melons is a favorite and was close to being a dress. I decided at the last minute that I couldn’t risk a melon ending up on a breast or buttock! I do love those flouncy lavender flowers, though. I also love the cantaloupe color combined with the sea green. I don’t remember seeing that combination before and will have to remember it in future.

Flowerburst - detail
Flowerburst – detail

Finally, Colleen did a great job on the quilting. I wanted her to highlight the stars and she did different designs in each one and they look great. I can’t wait to bind this and see what my niece thinks.

Quilt Labels

A week or so ago, I wrote my first Various & Sundry post for 2016. In a comment, BAMQG pal, Annemarie, asked about quilt labels. It occurred to me that I had been meaning to write about quilt labels for a long time and I hadn’t yet done it.

First, I think quilt labels are VERY important. They document the work of women who are not being paid to make things. While you may think that women and their work are valued, I think that we have a long way to go to have handwork (even by machine) valued as much as something such as, for example, a technology infrastructure or a new and successful app.

Second, I think quilt labels are important because they can tell the story of your quilt, if you want. Even if the story includes only:

  • maker
  • date
  • recipient

It is a small story, but a story nonetheless. It can be the starting link of a chain.

Label for Small Items
Label for Small Items

Third, for bags and small projects, I have a small label I print out in batches of about 20 on a page. It is not personalized to any particular project, but it lets people know who made the item. I even put these on ATCs. While simple and not unique, they can link a small item to my larger quilts. These would be perfect to make on Spoonflower and I might just do that.

Fourth, ALL quilts are important even the baby quilt you whipped up overnight for a baby who came early. The child will look at the label, wonder at and ask about it when s/he is old enough.

I did a little meditation on quilt backs a few years ago. Since I put my labels on the back, is relevant for this post. You may want to take a look.

What to Include

When I make a quilt label, I start with a Word document and save it to the folder on my computer (Google Drive or similar would work as well) that has all of the notes and images for the project. I include the following:

  • a picture of myself or my avatar
  • the name of the quilt
  • the size of the quilt (this is helpful when entering shows as I don’t have to measure the quilt every time)
  • details about materials and construction, such as if I have embellished the quilt or used special materials. I always put the content of the fabric and thread. Most of my quilts say 100% fabric and thread, but this is the place to put other content information, if relevant
  • my name, address and phone number
  • the name and address of my blog
  • Name and company of the quilter who quilted the quilt for me, starting with “Quilted by” or “Longarm quilted by”. Sometimes my name is in that spot. I feel it is important to differentiate the piecing from the quilting.
  • If this is a gift, I also include “Collection of Jane Doe”
  • If many people worked on the quilt, I include their names. This may help historians build connections between me and my guild mates in the future.
  • Sometimes I will include the pattern name.
  • If I got the pattern from a publication, I will include that and note changes that I made.
  • If the quilt was made for a show or exhibition or in response to a challenge, I put it on the label. Again, it helps make connections.
  • The story, process and inspiration for the the quilt. This is often the same, or similar, information I use on the quilt’s webpage. This information may include why I gave the quilt to this particular person. If I used special fabric or a particular line of fabric, I may include the information in this section. I also include why I made the quilt. It may have been specifically for a person. I may have started it in a class or wanted to try a technique or process
  • washing instructions, especially if the quilt will be a gift

Yes, the above is a LOT of information. My labels are frequently very large – taking up most of an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet. This is the information I would want to know if I came across a quilt in an antique store.

I often write up the label as I go along, so I only have to do some editing when I am ready for it.

How to Make a Quilt Label

There are as many ways to make a quilt label as there are to make a quilt. You can:

  • use my process and print on fabric
  • write with a permanent pen on a plain piece of fabric and sew on to your quilt
  • write directly on the quilt (watch for bleeding!!!!)
  • hand or machine embroider
  • applique’
  • use stitch lettering on your machine to write out label information directly on to the quilt.
  • Get sheets of labels already printed on fabric and fill them in with a permanent marker
  • Use Transfer Artist Paper
  • Write up your label in Word (or another word processing program), then trace on to fabric with a permanent pen
  • Create on Spoonflower
  • Buy personal, pre-cut woven labels (like the ones in your clothes) with your name, blog name, a short message, etc
  • Insert a triangle of fabric into the binding with your information written on it
  • embroider (watch for floss that bleeds)

I love the front of a quilt. Sadly, I am happy for the the fairies and magical animals to finish the rest for me. By the time I get to making the back, I want the quilt to be done. My method for making labels is relatively quick, in the grand scheme. Some tips:

  • print a test page on a piece of paper to check for color and clarity.
  • Make sure you ink cartridges are at your desired level

Sewing and More Information

My mom’s car was broken into and my niece’s quilt, which was coming to me to be bound was stolen. It had been made at a shower for her mom and many people had drawn, colored and written messages for my yet-to-be-born niece. The quilt was a wonderful scrapbook of heartfelt love and was never recovered. It is one of the saddest events in my quilty world.

I sew my quilt labels into the back of the quilt before the quilt is quilted. I do not applique’ labels onto the back after the piece is quilted. Yes, that means piecing the back. Yes, the quilting can make the words look weird, but I want people to know the maker and owner of the quilt. If the quilt is stolen, then the thief will have to destroy the quilt to remove the label. I think this is unlikely, but in a sick kind of way, I would rather have that then someone passing my work off as their own. If they don’t care, then perhaps every time they see the label, they will feel  a little bit ashamed.

Confession Time

I have one quilt that is unlabeled and there are no photos of it. It isn’t a horrible quilt or anything and I do keep meaning to do it. I just don’t seem to get around to it. If I die before I do it, nobody will know anything about it, which is sad.

I really dislike making labels and quilt backs. I do it, because I truly, deep in my heart, believe it is important to document my work. If you don’t feel that labels are important, then you don’t have to make them. The above is not a call to arms, but information on how and why *I* label *my* quilts.


This is a small sample of the myriad of information available. For more resources type “quilt labels” into Google and look at the massive amount of resources and images that are retrieved. Everyone has a different process. Find what works for you.


Scrapitude Back

Scrapitude Back
Scrapitude Back

I was determined to make the Scrapitude back this past weekend. In order to do that I had to finish the label. I had some time on Friday night and used it to make the label and order some rotary blades.

Rotary blades, you ask? What do they have to do with making a back? There are some tasks that are not hard, but they can interrupt the flow of sewing if you have to stop and do them. I have been trying to identify these tasks and put them into slots of time that are not suitable to sewing.

Making labels, making bindings and ordering rotary cutter blades are three of those tasks, which I have identified so far. I figure that if I put them into these odd slots of time, I’ll get more sewing done. It’s a theory anyway.

I wasn’t up to sewing a lot of small pieces together, so I tried to find some larger pieces of yardage. I found the large piece of Philip Jacobs. I knew I had a large dot piece that I liked with it, so I found that as well and went from there. I always have to piece a bit around the label, but I found that bird and tree print, which was perfect, because I didn’t have to cut it up too much. The trees show up pretty well and I was pleased to see the butterfly. There is something nice about that print and this turned out to be the perfect use for it.

I made the binding last weekend, so this baby is ready to go to the quilter. Yippee!

Two Quilts Return

Two Quilts Ready for Binding
Two Quilts Ready for Binding

I hope that, later this week, you will see another finish.

I went and got two quilts from Colleen last weekend while we were out car shopping in her neighborhood and both are ready for binding. I decided to sew the binding on the Original Bullseye first since that project has hung around much longer than the T-Shirt quilt. Also, I am planning to give the T-Shirt Quilt to the Young Man for Christmas. He hasn’t noticed it has returned, which means he isn’t clamoring for it, which means it will be a great gift.

Original Bullseye detail
Original Bullseye detail

Colleen did a really nice job on the quilting of this piece. It is flat as a pancake despite all of the bias edges of the circles.


T-shirt Quilt detail
T-shirt Quilt detail

Colleen sees a lot of quilts so I was very pleased when she, and her Mom, Elaine,  complimented me on the border. That is a border that is a pain to make, but very effective. I discussed the making of it in a previous post.

I wanted to show the detail, because of the quilting. I told her to do something basically all over, but not to ignore the difference between the t-shirt ‘blocks’ and the sashing. I am pleased with what she did.

The Garden Progresses

Garden front
Garden front

I said previously that I thought this piece was finished. I took it out on Friday in order to decide for sure and decided to put a facing on it and prepare the piece for finishing. The photo, left, shows the front with the facing applied by machine. I am sad that some of the edge detail was lost in the seam allowance. I’ll have to remember to plan better next time.

This piece didn’t need as much beading as the others I have done. I am not sure why. Laziness might be a factor, but the riot of color and fabric definitely draws attention to the elements of this piece. I don’t think it needs much detail to draw the viewer in.

I am a little sad about these small pieces. I really don’t have anywhere to display them, but would really like to have wally large enough to hang all of them.

Garden back
Garden back

I am particularly fond of the back. I used different colors to quilt and intended to cover up the back with a fake, but it looks so nice that I could barely stand to cover the edges with the facing.

Now I need to stitch down the facing and make the sleeve. I have a lot of cards to write for Christmas, so I don’t know if I will be able to finish this before the end of the year, but that is definitely my goal.

Now I feel like I can work on some of the other smaller pieces on the 26 Projects List. Perhaps I will do a blog post about each one as well?

More Sashing

The first picture in this recent post by Camille Roskelley (I just can’t stay away from her blog! If she posted 10 times a day I would be reading all the time and not going to work, cooking for my family or washing my hair) made my eyes pop out of my head. I know you have gone to look at the photo and are thinking “well, yeah, it is a polka dot, you love polka dots, Jaye, big whoop.” Why my eyes popped out of my head when I saw Camille’s work is because of sashing.

Huh? you think.

Zoe Pearns' Sweet NothingsYes, dear readers, sashing. Remember that I was puzzling over sashing options for the A-B-C Challenge earlier this week? The whole time I have been making these blocks I have been lamenting that Pat Bravo did not include a really good red in the line. I gnashed my teeth further because the Zoe Pearns dot has a wonderful red in it. I have lots of red and white dots. My idea may not work (make visual decisions visually!!!), but right at the moment I feel brilliant.

Big Dots
Big Dots

I love this big dot, but I don’t think it works with the A-B-C Challenge blocks.

The color is ok, though. It is hard to say, though, because the large dots interfere with the blocks. I think it might be from the Half Moon Street collection, but am not sure.

Small dots
Small dots

I think the smaller dots are better. This fabric is from the Sevenberry (?) collection. I am not sure, though. Not quite right. Why? I don’t know. I do have a large enough piece, though, so perhaps I will go with it just because of that. Bad reason to choose a sashing, though, I know.

Small dot #2
Small dot #2

Still, I liked the smaller dots, so I looked for another. A mini fabric avalanche (fabri-lanche?) gave me another idea.

I thought, perhaps, the problem was that I was trying out the fabrics with a straight set, so i got out a different red and tried the blocks on point. Some of the blocks, like the baskets, look ok, but most of the blocks just look weird. It is probably just that I have been looking at them in a straight set, but I don’t like the on point set.

Small dot #2 straight set
Small dot #2 straight set

Here is the same fabric, but in a straight set. I like it, but the red is very strong.

A lot of what I like is the idea of the red. I like using a strong color for sashing and background. I also like the idea of bringing out that little red in the Zoe Pearns dots I mentioned above. It might be a dumb idea, because you can even tell. I can’t tell even when I standing with my nose next to the design wall.

Small dot #2 straight set - detail
Small dot #2 straight set – detail

More quilt drama. I am glad I am working on this now, because if I had 5 minutes one weekend to sew these blocks together and I was trying to do this, I know I would make a bad choice and have to live with it.

I thought you might like to see a close up of this fabric with the blocks on it. Of course, there are a lot of other factors that will affect the final outcome of this quilt: width of sashing, width of binding, arrangement of blocks (beyond straight or on point set), etc.

Grey squares
Grey squares

As much as I hate to say it, after all of the drama and hand wringing over red above, I think this grey is the winner. The blocks look really good. The grey is not too brown. The blocks stand out and do not blend into the background. All the colors look good. The grey is not as stark as a white.

The problem is that I have to get more. I found some on and PayPal wouldn’t let me pay. Even if I decide to go with the red, I can use this grey for something else.

Famous last words.



Infinity Quilt

Finished Infinity Top
Finished Infinity Top

This photo is old news for you, but I thought it should be shown, so I could tell you that I have finished the back and you would know that the two of them go together.

I still have not decided what to do about the border. It is possible that I will leave the grey border and just bind it with the striped fabric that every liked best. I have time to decide; it is not at the quitlter yet.

Some time ago (years, perhaps), I bought some Harry Potter fabric. I bought it make something for the Young Man when he was in the throes of his Harry Potter mania, but then never made it. Renditions of beloved characters are never as imagined, though  the Young Man didn’t seem to care. As this quilt will go to one of the nephews, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally use it. He is just about to start reading the books, so I hope he will like the back. I spent Sunday (a week ago) making the back.

Infinity Quilt back
Infinity Quilt back

While I made the back, I tried to be calm about it. I didn’t want to make another back, but I also did not want to be angry about making the back. Angry when I am sewing? Odd, I know, but as I mentioned, performing the same parts of the quiltmaking process over and over gets tedious after awhile. I could have put this quilt away again and waited to do the back, but, instead, I decided to just making it and move forward. I really do see benefit in making up backs and bindings as soon as I am done with the top. It makes the finishing process so much easier.

Also, the pieces were large, so I didn’t have to fiddle too much. I was able to sew quite a lot of donation squares together in between sewing the back. That was gratifying.

A-B-C Challenge Sashing

Light grey sashing
Light grey sashing

This is a fabric I bought at Quiltology. I didn’t have the blocks with me, but I thought it might work. In the end, a person has make visually decisions visually. Looking at it with the blocks on the design wall, I am not so sure. I think the grey has too much beige or brown in it, but it isn’t terrible.

Grey circles sashing
Grey circles sashing

I have to make a few more blocks, but the more important thing I need to figure out is this sashing thing.

I thought the grey Half Moon Dot would work, but looking at in the photo makes me think that the dots are too large and it makes the piece look too busy. It’s too bad. I do like those dots, but not for this piece. I do have to think of something to do with the Half Moon Street Collection, though. Soon.

Large dot sashing
Large dot sashing

The dots were a good idea, though, so I looked at some other dots I had. No shortage of dots, of course.

I have to use a fabric of which I have enough (one of the bad things about stashing fabric is that you might have the perfect fabric, but not have enough of it: design challenge, I think, yes.)

I like the large dot a lot. I like it because it looks cheerful. I also like it because it showcases the blocks better than the grey does. I do worry that the white will run into the white of some of the backgrounds I used. I also worry about the colors of the dots not being the same, but I think the colors of the dots are similar enough, so that is not so much of a worry. I don’t think the Zoe Pearns Sweet Nothings dots don’t conflict too much with these large dots.

Small dot sashing
Small dot sashing

This small dot works, I think, but the dot might be too small.

Click to make the last photo larger to see how the small dots look against the blocks. The small dot works well with the Zoe Pearns Sweet Nothings in the blocks. It is also bright enough, but the white doesn’t seem to suck the life out of this piece.

What do you think?


Infinity Quilt Border

Light Stripes
Light Stripes

This is the fabric I thought I would use for a border first. I have it in my fabric closet already, but I only have a yard, so I don’t think I would be able to add it lengthwise (the stripes running parallel to the edge of the quilt). I guess I should have taken a picture of the fabric oriented in the way I was thinking of using it.

Oh well, use your imagination.

I do like the color of it – actually the color feel of it. It has the right feel to go with the rest of the quilt. It is a very restful border. I am concerned that I don’t have enough yardage and I don’t want to be fumbling around trying to make it work. I usually buy enough of a striped fabric for bindings and not borders. A yard is usually enough for a bias binding and if it isn’t, I have no business making a quilt that big.

Blue & Yellow Stripes
Blue & Yellow Stripes

I bought this piece at Quiltology. I tried to drape it so that you could see how it would look if I added it to the quilt as a border. How did I do? The colors aren’t quite right, but I do like adding a bit of yellow. One thing about adding these types of colors brings out some of the fabrics in the blocks that tend towards green.

I have to say that I am bit concerned about the grey border I added. I thought it would be the final border of the quilt, but then decided that the quilt needed to be finished off with something a bit darker.

My concern lies with the grey. It is very different from the white in the blocks, which is why I added it.  I wonder, though, if it isn’t so different that it doesn’t work. I kind of like it, but I don’t want people snickering behind their hands at my poor judgment.

Blue & Green Stripes
Blue & Green Stripes

This piece, also purchased at Quiltology, has much more green it. I didn’t realize that it had so much green until I got it home. I think that this is an issue of the type of light I live in. When I saw it in my workroom, I thought it had much too much green, but seeing it in the photo makes me think that it also brings out the blocks with green in them.

Frankly, in the end, I don’t care that much. I would like to be done with this project and I don’t want to spend much more time agonizing about border fabric. alternatively, I don’t want to look at it after it is finished and wish I had done something different.

Again with the artistic angst! I hope this isn’t becoming a habit.

New Meditation on Quilt Backs

Corner Store back
Corner Store back

The top photo is a photo of the back for the Corner Store. The Japanese Chrysanthemum print that makes up the majority of the back is by, of course, Phillip Jacobs. I bought that fabric for a Multi-tasker tote I planned to use for the Autumn, but never got around to making and it seemed appropriate to use it for the back.

Today was back day.

I decided that before I could piece more tops I needed to make two backs and a binding. I was able to finish the two backs, but need some input before moving on the binding. Making backs is something I don’t enjoy that much, but feel it is necessary to finish quilts and part of that process is making the back.

I feel strongly about backs:

  1. Pieced backs are good. I prefer to use the fabric I have and not buy special backing fabric.
  2. I label my backs. Nobody may care in 100 years, but if they do care, the information will be there. Also, if a quilt is stolen and, subsequently, found, the finder will know where to send the quilt.
  3. Make the back look cohesive with itself, and moderately related to the front.

I used to never care about piecing backs and would spend all day piecing a back, but today that part of the process got on my nerves. I would have loved for someone to hand me the perfect back so I would not have to make backs today. What I did to alleviate this was to find some large pieces and use those for most of the backs. Larger pieces of fabric meant less piecing. The piecing on the backs is not symmetrical, but the backs are made.

I think what is happening is that I am far enough along is most of the projects on my 26 Projects list that I am getting to the backing and binding stage faster than I would otherwise. Thus, I am making many more backs than I normally would. I also think I am sewing faster than I have in the past. Rote sewing? Somewhat.

I say all this like it is bad and it isn’t. I just think I have a rhythm for sewing and my rhythm is off. I think I need to consider that rhythm and get back into it. I need to take more time with my projects so I don’t get to the backs so fast. Until the 26 Projects list meets my comfort level, though, I think I might have to contend with this challenge, this sewing frenzy. It is, however, a consideration.

Back for Super Secret Project #2
Back for Super Secret Project #2

The last photo is a back for the Super Secret Project (#2). TFQ made the top for me and I was stuck with the back. I didn’t have any of the same fabrics she used, so I did the best I could.

One of my big concerns about backs is the well designed modern backs that many of the ‘modern’ quilters are making. Seeing them make me feel like a slacker. Granted, many of them do not include labels, but they are making backs that are almost separate quilt tops themselves and those backs look good.

These two pieces will go off to the quilter next time I head over there.

Pieced Backs

Not too long ago, Frances asked, in one of her podcast episodes, about making pieced backs and whether there was a tutorial.

I didn’t look for one, but I knew I had a back to make soon (for the Stepping Stones), so I thought about taking the opportunity to make a tutorial.

As I have mentioned in the past, once the top is finished, I am done with the project and want to move on. I love piecing. The other parts, such as making the back, making the binding and label, quilting are all dull for me. However, I have found that the Finishing Fairy does not visit my house and I have to do my own finishing or finish by checkbook.

My first step was figuring out how I make the pieced back. The basic premise is easy: sew pieces of fabric together until you have a piece large enough to accommodate the quilt.

What I realized is that it isn’t quite as easy as a step 1, step 2, etc tutorial. I sew bits and pieces together as I am making the quilt that end up larger when I am ready to sew the back together. You aren’t going to have the same size pieces as I have. So, this will be more like a guide rather than a tutorial.

I am a firm believer in not buying new fabric just for the back. Yes, it would be easier, but I have a lot of fabric and I might as well use it. I try to use the largest pieces possible as well as the pieces I have sewn together while making the quilt.

The first thing I do is make a label. I make my labels using a word processing program (Google Docs would work just fine) and then I print the piece out on paper backed fabric. I have also used the stitch letters on my sewing machine to write out a label.

The label will be sewn into the back, so as soon as I peel the fabric off the paper I start sewing. Know your paper backed fabric  and ink so that you know whether the ink will wash out immediately, over time, or not at all. I use fabric backed paper from Dharma Trading Company and my regular ink jet printer.

Tip #1: larger pieces make the back go together faster

When I made the back for FOTY 2010, I purposefully used really large pieces. That was the best back experience of my life, because it went together really fast. I suggest you start out this way with pieced backs so you don’t lose your mind. This is your fair warning!

Tip #2: As with blocks, sew from smallest to largest.

I start with the label and surround it with fabric until I have about 1.5′ from the right hand side of the back and about the same from the bottom.

I sew the label into the back so if a quilt is stolen, the label cannot be ripped off without ripping out the quilting.

Tip #3: Plan to leave extra fabric around the edge if you want to longarm. 4″ on all sides is usually sufficient.

Once I have one corner completed, I sew across the bottom of the quilt back until I have a piece the desired width. I make the width generous as I don’t want to go back when I think I am finished and have to sew on a strip to a long edge.

Tip #4: Coordinate your backing fabric with the fabric pieced into the front.

I use fabric that will coordinate with the front, though it isn’t necessarily the same fabric. If I have a lot of leftovers that I don’t think I will use in another quilt, such as in Stepping Stones, then I will use the leftovers for the back.

Tip #5: Leaders and enders techniques make the process of sewing the back go faster.

Where possible I will sew smaller pieces/shards (not schnibbles! I am not advocating doing something that will send you to an insane asylum) of fabric together using Bonnie Hunter’s leaders and enders technique. Now, I have not taken a class from her, so visit Quiltville, Bonnie’s blog or buy her books to learn her methods. My idea is that I put pieces/shards through the machine after the regular pieces for my top so I can get those to ironing board for pressing faster (discussed previously in this post). Also, this alleviates the need to put a scrap piece of fabric through the machine to keep your feed dogs from eating your triangle corners. Finally, it minimizes scraps added to the scrap pile.

Red Journal - Closed
Red Journal – Closed

As I have discussed on different occasions, I call the end result of sewing bunches of scraps together randomly mosaic quilting. I use the leaders and enders method to facilitate the mosaic quilting result. I made the entire cover of the red journal by using the leaders and enders method to get a mosaic quilting piece. I enjoy sewing like colors together to make new fabric. If I have nothing else to do or I can’t think or I am stressed out, it is a good activity.

How does this relate to pieced backs?

Mosaic Quilting for Pieced Backs
Mosaic Quilting for Pieced Backs

I do the same thing, but on a larger scale. When I am finished piecing the top and am definitely working on the back, I find pieces that fit together and sew them. When I am piecing the top, I sew the smaller pieces into larger pieces and then use the larger pieces for the back.

Mosaic Quilting for Pieced Backs
Mosaic Quilting for Pieced Backs

Tip #6: Skip sewing small pieces together if you have not done so prior to finishing the top.

I just want to finish, so if I have not sewed smaller pieces into larger chunks prior to starting the back, I skip it. It drives me crazy to have to stitch little bits together for no other reason than making a back. Why this doesn’t bother me when I am using them as leaders and enders, I don’t know.

Tip #7: Backstitch

Any seam that will be on the outside of the quilt or not crossed by another seams gets a few back stitches. All of my handling rips out those stitches and then I have to go over them before giving them to my longarmer. To alleviate the process I backstitch. I backstitch more than just the outside seams as sometimes I don’t know what will become an outside seam.

Finally, I sew chunks the same width as the first chunk (with the label) until I have a piece the same size as the top with an additional 4″ on each side. Depending how how small the pieces are, the back can take me 4-6 hours. I am slow, and get cranky when I do this.

Alternatively, you can just buy a big piece of fabric and put it on the back. 😉