How Much Bigger Does Quilt Backing Need To Be

Once you decide on your quilt design, quilt backing most commonly might be an afterthought. But to take one step forward to completing your project with ease, here’s asking you to give a bit more attention to the quilt backing. How should you figure out the yardage for your quilt backs?

The backing, precisely the bottom part of your quilt design, should be strong. It needs to be bigger than the quilt top to give additional fabric taken up during quilting when using the quilt frame. Also, it’s better to avoid a plain backing fabric.

As backing fabrics are one important part of quilting, they must get the same kind of attention as that of your quilt top. If you want to learn how things work in this section of quilting, then this post will explain it in bits and pieces. Read on to learn the safest yardage for quilt backing.

How Much Bigger Your Quilt Backing Needs To Be?

How Much Bigger Your Quilt Backing Needs To Be?

Both quilt batting and backing get trimmed a bit larger than the top. It allows for the shrinkage and distortion that occur during the process of quilting. In fact, it offers extra leeway for building the quilt sandwich square while the process gets completed.

Having a minimum of three to four additional inches of backing is always convenient. This means the backing must be 6-8 inches taller and wider than the quilt top. You can use 8″ if you want to fold it & bring it right in front of your quilt to build a self-binding design.

As for the binding, it’s not as durable as the double-fold binding. However, it is a great option for quilts that do not get heavily used. Additionally, fabric panels should get pieced together to build a backing for bigger quilts.

You can cut the miniature quilt backing from the single width of the usual quilting fabric. Alternatively, you can make a reversible quilt. For this, use another quilt top for the backing.

On this note, machine quilting is the safest option as it gives a lot of seam allowances in the two quilt tops.

Preparing For The Design

When you piece the quilt backing, you should use around 1/2″ seam allowances for extra stability. You should sew the pieces together across the long edges. Don’t forget to press the seam allowance open.

After you figure out the backing yardage on the basis of the quilt top’s size, piece the backing fabric together by using vertical and horizontal seams. Use different configurations for the purpose. Here’s an overview:

Preparing For The Design

For Quilts Less than 34 Inches in Length & Width:

For small quilts having either length or width of fewer than 34 inches, you need to select a single piece measuring around 42 inches for the backing. The width covers the 34 inches and extra 8 inches.

  • Add the quilt top dimension with 8 inches
  • Divide it by 36 inches and determine the yardage

For Quilts 40 Inches to 60 Inches in Width:

When the quilt top is longer or wider than the backing fabric’s length or width, piecing the backing is essential. If seams are required, you will have to decide whether you want it vertical or horizontal on the quilt back. And when the quilt is 40-60 inches wide, then the horizontal seams may save on the yardage.

  • Multiple the quilt top width with two and add 12
  • Divide it by 36 inches to determine the yardage

For Quilts 61″ to 80″ in Width:

When you choose a wider quilt than 60 inches, use one or two seams (vertical) and piece your quilt backing.

  • Multiple the top length with two and add 12
  • Divide it by 36 inches to determine the yardage

For Quilts 81″ to 120″ in Width:

Your 81-120 inches of quilt would need a backing piece with vertical seams.

  • Multiple the quilt top length with three and add 18
  • Divide it by 36 inches to determine the yardage

Here’s presenting a step-by-step guideline to calculate the quilt backing:

A Detailed Method to Calculate Quilt Backing Yardage

Step 1: Determine The Size Of The Back Size

For this, you will require adding 8 inches to both the width and length of your quilt top. [For instance, (63″ + 8″) by (78″ + 8″)]

Step 2: Ensure The Exact Number Of Fabric’s Length

You need to know that neither the width nor the final length is equal to or less than the usable fabric’s width (i.e., 40″).

Thus, the back requires getting pieced properly. For this reason, you’d require dividing the width (mentioned in the first step) by the fabric’s usable width.

So, divide 71 inches by 40 inches, which is equal to 1.775 lengths. After this, round up the nearest whole number! It comes down to two lengths of fabric that one can create for the back.

Step 3: Consider The Required Yardage For The Quilt Backing

Yardage For The Quilt Backing

To perform this, you’ll have to multiply the total length (in inches). Then, convert it to yards! This comes down to around 172 inches. Convert it to yardage 172″ divided by 36″, which is equal to 4.77777 yards.

So, the nearest is 1/8 yard, and 4-7/8 yards is your minimum piece required for the quilt backing.

Here’s A Quick Note:

Now, it’s time to square up your fabric you’re going to use for quilt backing.

You wouldn’t want to experience an intimidating situation after buying your yardage from the calculations and cutting it into half only to find out that it got cut crooked. Plus, if the resulting back doesn’t turn out to be a square, there’s nothing as annoying as the current scenario!

To ensure everything goes according to the plan, ensure buying extra yardage. Even if that doesn’t get used, you can use it for another purpose.

Steps to Make Quilt Backing from Those Common Fabrics

To get started, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Remove The Fabric Selvages

Fabric selvages may create little puckers along the length. It must get removed right prior to using the fabric for the backing. For this purpose, determining the width measurement after removing these selvages is quite important.

Step 2: Cut The Single Panel

Cut The Single Panel

Usually, the fabric suitable for quilt backing comes within 35 inches in width. And all types of fabrics don’t feature the same measurement. When the single fabric panel gets used, there’s no need to remove the selvages as they will get trimmed after the quilting gets done.

Step 3: Calculate Yardage for The Single Panel

Now coming to the final step! Measuring your quilt’s height and adding the chosen excess length (here, it is 8 inches) is pretty simple. After which, divide it by 36 inches and calculate the yardage accordingly.

Steps to Sew Backing Panels Of The Quilt Together

Step 1: Firstly, determine the length and measure the width of the quilt. Add 4 to 6 inches to it.

Step 2: Design the backing to equal the width. Add 1/2″ to every panel for each seam.

Step 3: Cut those panels to the quilt’s length and add 4 to 6 inches

Step 4: Sew the panels together with the seam allowance of ? inches. Press seams and reduce the bulk.

Step 5: Press quilt backing before its use.

Backing Panels Of The Quilt Together

Are Bed Sheets for Quilt Backings a Recommended Option?

In simple words, quilt backings for your bed sheets are never recommendable! Though it might sound appealing to use the bedsheet due to its size, bed sheets do not make great quilt backs.

Furthermore, the thread count is higher in sheeting than seen in regular quilting fabric. For the tighter weaves, it can also cause the needle to break the threads of the sheet.

So, instead of pushing between threads, what it does is pierces through it. Apparently, it may leave holes & diminishes the sheet’s stability too.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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