Prepping That Quilt Backing – Come on Let’s Do It

by Mar 18, 20200 comments

A small backing guide for quilt makers –

Before sending to your longarmer

Hi Friends and Happy Wednesday!

So, the other day my husband and I were yacking away at each other. You know how it is, both of you telling each other about what’s gone on in your individual days, kinda just talking over each other.

Suddenly he stopped and asked, “What’s so hard about prepping the backing for a quilt?”


Charity quilt for this week!

I thought for just a bit.  In my head, I could see him slapping siding up on the house and driving in some nails and SLAM, BAM, THANK YOU, MA’AM!  IT’S DONE!

I mean, really, it’s just one word…backing…can’t be too hard.  But, didn’t I say ‘PREPPING’ the backing and I didn’t say it was hard.

In the over all sense, it isn’t terribly hard.  I know he has seen me wash and press my fabric.  I know he knows that sometimes there is A LOT of fabric to press at one time. But, the rest of what it takes to get A LOT of fabric ready to go onto a longarm frame, seemed to be a little vague.

To be fair, I hadn’t ever explained the details to him.  And since he is going to proofread this post for me…he can see it now.

And just so you know…if you don’t do it this way…that’s okay.  Share your method below.

Square those edges and trim that selvage. 

Come On!  Let’s do it!

I like to start with a good wash and press.  I wash my backing to get all the “manufacturing” (air quotes here) out of the fabric.  Personally, I feel it makes the needle slide better during the quilting process.  That could be all in my head (very likely, as a matter of fact), but it works for me.

Since I’ve already figured how much yardage I need and that’s what I just washed and pressed.  I’m going to get this baby cut in half width-wise.  This is going to give me the width I need for loading the backing onto the longarm.

Remember that for longarmers to have enough for loading and stabilizing during quilting, we need that extra width and length to make it work comfortably.

I will have the width I need when I sew those pieces back together along their length.

So…cut that hunk of fabric in half and let’s get busy trimming ONE of the selvedges.

Once the backing has been cut in half, we need to lay it out nice and flat with right sides together.  Now, cut the selvedge off of ONE side only.  We longarmers typically like the selvedge left on one side for extra strong support when loading on the longarm.

**Side note here:  If you happen to be using directional fabric (where the design goes only one direction), Minky or a fabric with a nap, be sure to turn one of your cuts around so the direction of the design or nap is all going the same direction.

When I’m sewing my center seam for my backing, I like to use a 3/8″ seam allowance.

This will press open nicely and lay nice and flat when rolling the backing onto the frame.

In this image I’ve moved my needle over to give me that 3/8″ stitch line.  Then I only need to move the edge of my fabric along the stoppers (using 2 these days – one is Guidelines4Quilting Seam Guide and the other is Sewing Edge.  I’ve purchased both of these items on Amazon and the links here will take you to Amazon).

If you’re anything like me you may have more length than you need.  To make it handy for your longarmer, be sure to keep you’re backing at minimum 8″ longer than your quilt top.

Please…please…make your longarmer happy!  Give her more than 8″ if possible.


Stitching 3/8″ seam

Do you have a quilt top you would like me to quilt for you?

Take a look at our Longarm Quilting Services page. 

Here you can see the edges are square and the backing lays nice and flat.  This means a lot to a longarmer.

You might feel like it’s just a backing.  Yes, it can be JUST a backing.

In a very big way, it’s a foundation.  This is where you work of art will lay.  This is what will protect your work of art (since it’s usually on the bottom)  It may even be the part that gets dragged through the mud by 2 year old hands.

For your longarmer, it can make or break her/his heart.  An unfriendly fabric can cause too much tension on the needle and make stitches bunch up or not become stitches at all.  This creates hours of time unpicking stitches and re-doing  designs.

No selvedge on the edges can cause fraying and stretching.  Believe me, we don’t want to do that.

I’m not saying it’s not workable.  I only pointing out that it helps.

Take the time to talk to your longarmer.  Make sure you’re hitting all she/he needs to accomplish beautiful stitching on your quilt top.

For all the longarmers I’ve ever spoken to, we want that quilt to be as beautiful as you do!


Do you have charity quilts or know of someone who would like them quilted?  I would love to quilt them for you.  Charities only need pay for shipping and I’ll get it done!  Plus, you’ll always have the privilege of saying you had your quilt quilted in Hawaii!  Send me a message, let’s have a discussion!


Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

Please don’t forget to share!

Nearly all my quilts have a story in them.  I plan to share as many as I remember with you.  The ups the downs the…”whoops!  What was I thinking”…moments.  As I move along I hope to inspire and encourage your journey in quilts.

I love to hear stories.  

Please send me your stories about your quilts or whatever your making.  Where the idea started and how it moved from there.  And if you want me to, I’ll show them off for you.   

Most of all, let’s have fun!

Thank you so much for reading!  Sign up so you don’t miss a beat. Have any comments or ideas leave them below.  Also, you can join us on our FB group Comfy Coffee Klatch.  We would love to have you!

Oh, and one more thing, if your into reading after other quilter’s out there and their adventures?  Check out the 100 Top Quilting Blogs on Feedspot.

Much love,


Caroyn Albright,

Quilts ‘N’ Things Addict

I admit it…I’m a quilting addict.  But, if you’re here then it’s likely you are too!  That also means we’re fabric addicts, and quilty tool addicts…this list goes on.

Please join me for the fun!

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