For the quilt backing you should use a high quality 100%-cotton fabric. Your quilt back should be at least 4″ larger than the quilt top. (2″ to 3″ on all sides.) If your quilt is larger than the standard width of fabric, you will need to stitch two or more pieces of fabric together to make the backing. You can place the seams anywhere you want. Remove the selvages before sewing the pieces together. Press the seam allowances open to make quilting the top easier. You can also purchase 100%-cotton wide backing material that ranges from 90″ to 120″ or so. This eliminates the seams in most cases.
Long-Arm Quilting and Batting
If you plan to take your quilt to a long-arm quilter, refer to my post about Preparing your Quilt for the Long-Arm Quilter. Most long-arm quilters will have batting you can purchase, or you can provide your own batting. My favorite batting is 100% bamboo. It is fairly new to the market, and it is fabulously soft and has a beautiful drape. I also like 100% cotton, and some of the 80%-cotton/20%-polyester battings. For long-arm quilting, thick batting isn’t a good choice because it’s difficult for the machine to quilt through. If you are taking your quilt to a long-arm quilter you don’t need to do the following steps.
Layering and Basting
You can choose to quilt your projects by hand or machine. Whichever method you choose to use, the quilt top, batting, and backing will need to be layered and basted together.
- Press the backing fabric and quilt top. Mark the center of the quilt top and backing on all four sides.
- Spread the backing, wrong side up, on a clean, flat surface. Use masking tape to anchor the backing to the surface without stretching the fabric.
- Center the batting over the backing, smoothing out any wrinkles and making sure it covers the entire backing.
- Center the pressed top, right side up, on the batting and backing. Align borders and straight lines of the quilt top with the edges of the backing, smoothing any wrinkles from the center out.
- For hand quilting, baste with needle and thread starting in the center of the quilt; baste a grid of horizontal and vertical lines 6″ to 8″ apart. For machine quilting, you may baste the layers with #2 rustproof curved safety pins. Place the safety pins about 6″ to 8″ apart, away from the areas you intend to quilt, and remove the pins as you go.
Layered quilt backing, batting and top ready to baste.
See Quilt Making Basics: Binding your Quilt for binding instructions.