Great Quilt Back Ideas to Make Your Quilting Projects Stand Out

Great Quilt Back Ideas to Make Your Quilting Projects Stand Out photo 0

15 Quilt Back Ideas to Brighten up Your Sewing Room

If you’re like me, your stash of quilt fabrics grows bigger by the week. But once you finish piecing the top, what do you do with all those scraps? Well, here are some creative quilt back ideas to use up your fabric leftovers and give your finished quilts some extra personality.

1. Strip Pieced Back

A strip pieced back is a classic way to use up those narrow strips you’ve trimmed off quilt blocks. Simply sew strips together in varying widths and lengths to form the backing fabric. From my experience, this improv style back adds a fun randomly pieced look without too much fuss. I once made one from a bag of strips I toted around my sewing classes – the other students were amazed by how well it turned out!

2. Odds and Ends Sampler

If you’ve got a collection of smaller scraps accumulating, try making a sampler style back. Cut all your scraps into squares or rectangles roughly 3-4 inches. Then piece them together in a random mix, like a busy jigsaw puzzle. A sampler back is kind of like a visual record of all the quilts you’ve made. I made one last year and still smile whenever I see the oddball prints peeking out the back!

3. Charming Churn Dash

For those times you want to show off a favorite fabric, try a churn dash pattern. Cut squares and rectangles of your featured fabric and alternate them with negative space strips to create an eye-catching checkerboard. I once did an all-print churn dash using all the leftovers from a baby quilt – it was so stunning, even the baby’s mom gasped! Just be careful not to make the negative spaces too narrow or your quilt may pucker.

4. Freeform Funkiness

If patterns aren’t your thing, go totally freestyle with a freeform pieced back. Cut all your scraps into random sizes and literally just sew them together any old way. No corners have to match up and improv piecing is encouraged. This hodgepodge style back is a great way to use up tiny leftovers. Just be prepared for comments like “dude, your back is cray!” Mine gets rave reviews, even if it is basically a hot mess!

5. Snap Quilt Starbursts

For a fun filled backdrop, try piecing starbursts using 2 1/2″ charm squares. Sew 3-5 squares into points to make “rays” and stitch several rays together to form stars. Then arrange and piece the stars across the quilt width for a dazzling display. I’ve done a few of these and it’s kind of dope seeing the stars pop from the back of a regular looking quilt. Just watch those points don’t stab ya when you’re quilting!

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6. Log Cabin Layer Cake

If you’ve amassed a collection of 10″ precut quilting squares, also known as layer cakes, try piecing them in a classic log cabin layout. Sew vertical strips of alternating solids and prints moving inward from the edges, working your way to the center. Log cabin is a forgiving pattern that makes quick use of precut fabrics. Bet you can’t guess which of my quilts has a log cabin backing made from a clearance impulse buy layer cake – it’s a dead giveaway for sure!

7. Scrappy Columns

For those with plenty of long skinny strips, piece 2 1/2″ columns by joining assorted strips end to end. Once dry, sew the columns together side by side. The offset vertical strips provide a fun optical illusion. I did one in stripes that tricks the eye for sure! The backing turned out more crazily trippy than Woodstock, man.

8. 9-Patch Panorama

Make 9-patch blocks by piecing 3″ squares into a 3×3 grid, then connect the blocks into long horizontal rows. Piece multiple rows together into one wide scenic backdrop. 9-patch throwbacks are a perfectly orderly way to use random scraps in a unified whole. I recently used one on a quilt inspired by Monet’s waterlilies – it really set off the painterly design!

9. Odd Fabric Bouquet

Cut assorted fabrics into circles, squares, triangles and other wonky shapes to piece together in a clustered arrangement, like an abstract fabric flower garden. No two “petals” need match. A bouquet back captures the whimsical spirit of misfit scraps finding community. Mine looked like clowns puked confetti – suffice it to say, it brought me much bemusement!

10. Patchwork Panes

Form a grid of rectangles using a mix of prints in a windowpane style. Piece blocks together in horizontal rows for a crisply modern look. I did one that was sort of twee – think plaid flannel behind granny’s annual quilt. It sparked mad cravings for cookies and cider, no lie!

11. Crazy Galaxy

Cut assorted fabrics into wonky star, polygon and curvy shapes (think cloud, flame, lightning bolt etc). Piece the funky figures across the batting without worrying if edges line up. A galaxy back lets imagination run supernova! Mine resembled the cosmos puking up a cartload of Care Bears, natch. Wicked fun to envision as I’m quiltin’ and what not.

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12. Mod Meets Traditions

Spice up classic blocks like railroad ties or bear’s paw with unexpected solids and prints. A hint of modern zip gives heritage patterns new attitude. I did one with plaid rail ties and argyle paws – it was so fetch!, like an Amish gone hipster. The stitches held fast despite gales of laughter while quilting.

13. Stenciled Story Quilt

Get arty with fabric ink or acrylic paint and stencils for an illustrated narrative. Outline motifs and cut applique shapes to incorporate into pieced scenes. Home is where the art is for sure! I stenciled tiki torches and grass skirts on mine – it brought the luau straight to grandma’s spare room.

14. Fabric Family Tree

Branch out with a genealogical record of fabrics! Piece prints, plaids and stripes to suggest tree trunk, roots and leaves. Note pattern names or dates to memorialize each generation. Show off your fabric family’s flora and fauna for ages to come! Mine resembled Yggdrasil itself, the world tree of lore, in all its leafy vertical splendor.

15. Simple Solid Stripes

Sometimes less is more. Sew vertical or horizontal strips of coordinating solids for a clean, tailored look. A subtle stripe back lets the quilting take center stage. On a lilac and mint bed, the stitched leaves really shone through. But beauty is fleeting, and I’ve since moved on like the breeze.

In the end, any of these ideas make lovely inexpensive quilt backing options using up stash. Why not try a few to find your favorite improv style? With so much fabric piled high, it’s time to quilt like there’s no tomorrow and consider those leftovers a license for creativity without cares. Besides, who doesn’t appreciate fresh perspective on favorites seen a thousand times before? As for me, I’ll continue chasing rainbowsbehind my scenes. Happy quilting, friends!

Quilt Back Ideas to Consider

Material Quilt Size Cost Washability Notes
Cotton Twin to King $20-50/yard Machine wash cold, tumble dry low Most traditional option, breathes well
Flannel Twin to King $25-60/yard Machine wash cold, dry flat Cozy for cold weather, some thicker than others
Microfiber Twin to California King $15-40/yard Machine wash warm, tumble dry low Soft, fade resistant, quick drying
Fleece Twin to California King $20-50/yard Machine wash warm, tumble dry low Ultra soft and cozy, thicker pile than flannel
Polar Fleece Twin to California King $25-60/yard Machine wash warm, tumble dry low Very warm and insulating, static guard option


  1. What size of quilt back do I need?

    Usually a quilt back needs to be about 8 inches wider and longer than the quilt top. This allows for plenty of fabric to fold over and encase the batting and quilt top. However, it’s best to measure your specific quilt top to be safe.

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  2. Can I use multiple fabrics for my quilt back?

    Certainly! You can basically piece together various fabrics to make your quilt back. Kind of like making a quilt top. Just be sure all the pieces are big enough and will fit together nicely when you layer the quilt sandwich. On the other hand, a single fabric is simpler if you want minimal seams.

  3. Is there an easy quilt back pattern I can use?

    A simple panel or single piece of fabric works well as a quilt back and saves time over piecing. Although I’ve read online that some quilters really enjoy the stunning look of a complex quilt back with interesting shapes. Perhaps a balance of easy and fancy sections could please everyone!

  4. How do I finish the edges of my quilt back?

    You’ll need to finish the raw edges so they don’t fray over time. The most common options are staying the edges with pinking shears, serging the seams, or binding the whole back using your favorite binding method. Awful if the edges came undone after all that work!

  5. What if my backing fabrics don’t quite meet in the middle?

    Don’t panic – a little overlap or gap in the backing is no big deal. When you layer the quilt sandwich, smooth out the fabrics as best you can. Then when you start quilting, the movement of the quilt through the machine helps everything settle. Is that fair?

  6. How do I attach the backing and batting?

    The experts recommend basting the layers together with safety pins or bastimg spray before quilting. This keeps everything from shifting around. But I’ve had fine results just carefully smoothing and stacking the fabrics without any basting at all. With gentle handling it seems to work out! Maybe try both methods and see which you prefer.

  7. What’s the best way to assemble the quilt sandwich?

    Lay the backing right side down and tape the edges down with masking tape so it doesn’t slip around. Then lay the batting on top, smoothing it out. Finally place the quilt top right side up and center it. Begin pinning or spraying the layers together, working from the center outwards. I’ve found starting in the middle and working to the sides prevents bunching. Does this help explain the process?

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