Quilt Back Tutorial #2 – Pieced Method
This tutorial is for Quilt Back Method #2: a pieced back that works for directional prints. First tutorial for the Side-to-Side Method.
Sketch the back and its dimensions on a piece of paper:
In this example, the quilt top measures 48″ x 60″. 8 inches are added to the length and width to make life easy for the long arm quilter. If I plan to do the quilting myself on my home sewing machine I add 4 inches.
Draw a picture of the back, draw how the pieces will go together, calculate their finished sizes and then calculate the cut sizes (I use a 1/2 inch seam when piecing the backs). I then do the calculations a second time. I’ve made a LOT of cutting mistakes in my life! (as I was proofing this tutorial I noticed that the sketch on the right hand side shows 40 x 68, this should say 40.5 x 68, sorry for the confusion, always write down the measurement you’re going to cut!)
For the pieced method I also draw a picture of how the pieces I need will be cut from the fabric. The section on the left side is where you start: the width of the fabric by the length of the quilt back.
The remaining section on the right needs a little analysis. The total width of this section measures 16.5 inches. If it had been greater than 21 inches (half the width of the fabric) then two sections could not be cut side by side and the easiest approach would be to cut another whole piece the length of the quilt back. If the width was less than 14 inches I would have split this section into 3 pieces.
Since 16.5 inches is less than half the width of the fabric but greater than a 1/3 of the width I cut two sections side by side from the fabric. See the diagram on the right. The total length of 68 inches divided by 2 is 34 inches. Add 1/2 inch for the seam allowance and the dimension of these cut pieces are each 16.5 inches x 34.5 inches.
Calculate the total amount of fabric required. 68 inches plus 34.5 inches equals 102.5 inches. 2 yards 30.5 inches. Drawing this out in a diagram makes it easy to visualize and calculate correctly.
Start by cutting the first 68″ length:
Take the fabric, fold it so the cut edges align, fold it again so you can fit it on the cutting board and whack off the selvages so the width (running with the crosswise grain of the fabric) measures 40 1/2″:
A quick note on the selvages: always cut the selvage edges off your fabric before sewing it to another cut of fabric. If left on, the results will be a puckered edge that never lays flat.
Next, cut the second piece of fabric 34.5″ per the calculation:
Once again, take the fabric, fold it so the cut edges align, fold it again so you can fit it on the cutting board and whack off one selvage edge (remember, the one without the writing). Cut the first piece 16.5″ wide. Cut a second piece 16.5″ wide:
Sew together the side section by joining these two pieces along the short 16.5″ edge:
Finally, join the main section with the side section you just created:
View from the back:
View from the front:
In this instance the total yardage needed (2 yards 30.5″) was less than the quilt back made using the side-to-side method (3 yards 4″). It was also less than the John Flynn diagonal seam method (3 yards but my quilt back ended up being a tad bit short). This is a good example of how difficult it is to predict which method will result in the most efficient use of fabric, it depends on the dimensions of the quilt back being made.