Some quilters have always relied on sheets for backing, while others believe that sheets are a strict no-no. So, is using sheets for quilt backing really that much of a bad idea?
You can use sheets for quilt backing but you will have to use good quality material and know the right techniques to get the job done. In fact, the use of sheets for quilt backing gets a bad rep because people end up using the wrong types of sheets in a faulty manner.
The lovely patterns and colors on the sheets can actually make your quilts look better. And here’s outlining all that you need to know about making quilt backing using sheets. Let’s get started!
Can You Use Sheets As Quilt Backing?
Sheets can easily be used for quilt backing. The ideas like sheets are too tightly weaved and lead to issues like skipped stitches are nothing but misconceptions.
You need to get flat sheets with low thread count. Any machine or even hand sewing would work in using sheets as backing. You will also save money in this process and make your quilt look pretty.
Procedure for Using a Sheet for Quilt Backing
Given below is a list of things that you need to organize for using sheets as quilt backing:
- Cotton or flannel sheets (not polyester or microfiber)
- Cotton threads
- Sewing machine
You should never go for polyester or microfiber sheets. Get something that is one hundred percent cotton. Polyester sheets are hard to baste and they will slide and slip a lot more than cotton. So, polyester or microfiber sheets will make quilting a lot harder than usual.
Besides, polyester or microfiber will not shrink like cotton does. Thus, if you are not planning to pre-shrink the fabrics before making a quilt, you will end up with distortion and warping in the finished quilt.
Steps To Use a Sheet for Quilt Backing
Step 1: Choose a Cotton Sheet
You can use different kinds of cotton sheets for quilt backing. So, you can go for the mono-toned ones or something with pretty patterns.
To figure out the amount of backing fabric you require, remember that all the sides of the quilt back need to be at least four inches longer than the quilt top. You will find online batting and backing calculators that can help you in figuring out the yardage.
Step 2: Think About the Seam Allowance
Consider the seam allowance, especially when you are trying to get matching prints. You might need to cut the extra bit of fabric off from one side such that the pattern looks continuous after being sewn together. Also, a pressed open half-inch seam allowance will turn the seams more durable.
Step 3: Sew the Sheet to the Quilt Backing
The seams you use for piecing quilt backing can run horizontal or vertical depending on the shape and size of the project. Usually, if you want to make the most of the sheets, you should use horizontal seams for forty to sixty inches quilts and vertical seams for quilts that are sixty-one inches or larger.
Tips for Using a Sheet for Quilt Backing
1. Go for Sheets with Lower Thread Count
You need to go for the lower, cheaper thread count sheets. You will find 100% cotton sheets for cheap at Target, which are sold as flat sheets (no need to purchase the whole set) and work pretty well.
The sheets with thread count as high as five or six hundred will have a tighter weave. So, you will find it hard to pierce your needle through it.
2. Do Not Fall For the Wrinkle-Free Sheets
It is easy to fall for the wrinkle-free sheets because you must be thinking that they will be the perfect choice for quilt backing. But the wrinkle-free yarns or sheets have a type of coating on them that makes the needle have a hard time piercing through the fabric.
Also, the needle would end up making pretty big holes in your sheet. In fact, the quilt would feel quite stiff, too.
3. Cotton Sheets are the Best and Safest Option
You might find some sheets with cotton and polyester blends that work perfectly for quilt backing. Such sheets would hold up pretty well in washing, as well.
However, your best bet would be to stick to 100% cotton sheets. You won’t have to play the guessing game with the cotton sheets because they will assuredly hold through sewing and washing. Go for cotton sheets with thread count of around two hundred or less.
Many quilters claim to have used brushed cotton sheets, flannel sheets, and regular sheets successfully.
4. Flannel Sheets are the Next Best Choice
Flannel sheets make really comfy quilts when put as backing. After all, flannel is a looser weave and you don’t even need to worry about thread count. The drape, warmth, and softness of flannel sheets will make you reach out for them time and again.
But flannel sheets can as easily pill as inexpensive cotton/poly and cotton sheets. So, you should wash a flannel sheet a time or two before using them for backing. You can discard them in case pilling occurs.
5. Wash and Dry the Cotton Sheets Beforehand
You should always wash and dry your cotton sheets before using them to prevent shrinking and bleeding. This is especially important for flannel sheets because they shrink on washing. There is no need to wash your batting or your fabrics in the quilt top.
6. Pick the Right Time to Purchase the Sheets
The best time to buy sheets for quilt backing is right after the beginning of the school year. This is because all the back to college and school sheets will be on sale. Also, you can purchase sheets right after Christmas because the flannels are on sale.
7. Be Cautious About the Use of a Longarmer
If you plan to utilize a longarmer, make sure to check with them before choosing sheets for the quilt backing. After all, many of them will not work with cotton or flannel sheets.
8. Try on a Charity or Baby Quilt at First
When you plan to do all the quilting yourself, give the sheets a try on a charity or baby quilt. You will get to see how easily you can work with it before moving on to bigger quilts.
9. Purchase the Largest Size of Bed Sheet
When purchasing bed sheets, it is a good idea to get the largest size you can afford. You can then use both the flat and fitted sheets from the throw-size quilts and larger. For example, the fitted sheet on twin size sets can only be used for a baby sized quilt or a crib.
What are the Benefits of Using a Sheet for Quilt Backing?
There are a couple of benefits of using a sheet for quilt backing, and they are:
1. You will not need to pierce together a quilt back. You can simply purchase a sheet that is big enough for backing your quilt and you do not have to piece it together.
2. Bed sheets are sturdy and durable. They are made to stand up to washing and wear and tear.
3. Lastly, the biggest benefit is cost-saving. Duvet covers and bed sheets are much more affordable than quilting cotton, thus, saving your hard-earned money.
Also, most sets of bed sheets come with both a flat and a fitted sheet. So, you will essentially get two quilt backs out of a package. Duvets are also double-sided, and also offer two pieces of fabric to use.
To add to all these benefits, the techniques and tips mentioned above will make it easy for you to make the quilt with a sheet for backing.