I’m taking advantage of my recent enthusiasm for sewing to finish up some UFOs I promised myself I would get done during pandemic isolation. Today I finished the backing for my scrappy batik star quilt and it’s all ready to go off to my long arm quilter.
I just love this dark blue sunflower fabric. I bought it in Utah during my vacation last summer. There’s a little quilt store in Bountiful, just north of Salt Lake City, that has the most amazing selection of batik fabrics. I always go just a little crazy when I’m there. I bought this specifically with this quilt in mind and I think it’s perfect.
I always suffer a little anxiety when I make a quilt back, worrying that my calculations are wrong and the back will be too small. I always measure, double check my measurements, do the math again, and make sure I have left plenty of extra size for the quilter to deal with. When I finish the back I fold the quilt top and back in quarters and lay the top on the back to verify that I’ve made it big enough. Even as careful as I am with my measuring and double checking I’m always a little relieved when it’s all correct. In the photo above you can clearly see the backing fabric extending beyond the edges of the top. Phew!
I really dislike making quilt backs because I hate managing all that fabric. So I’ve come up with a few methods that help me keep it all organized and ready to move through my machine. This frequency of pins makes those long seams stay together really nicely for me, and it makes it all come out much more even. Once pinned, I fold up all the excess fabric so I have many layers thick, but only about 12 inches wide. I leave plenty of room between the folded fabric and the edge I’ll be sewing. the I accordion fold the whole thing so I can more easily feed it through the machine.
I put this folded pile in my lap and feed it through the machine, adjusting it as I go, making sure it’s not catching on my extension table or piling up as it goes through the machine.
I also don’t love matching prints for a backing and it would be pretty impossible to match a batik anyway, so I often use blocks left over from the front to make a strip to connect to larger backing pieces. But for this quilt, I used a strip of batik that plays well with the colors in the sunflowers. I like the bold contrasting strip on the backing. The strip is sewn in between the two larger pieces of backing fabric.
And it’s times like this that I really love my cutting table. It’s actually a stainless steel restaurant table that I bought online a few years ago. It has a shelf underneath where I put bins with all my batiks. It has plenty of room for my cutting mat, it’s a really comfortable height and it’s durable as all get out.
I’ve also decided to start chunking away at putting the spots borders on all of my crumb blocks. I think I have 63 eight-inch blocks. With the borders and sashing this will end up being a generous size quilt. I started cutting the various spots fabric this evening before our walk and got a few strips sewn on before I ran out of bobbin thread. I can’t wait to see this quilt come together.