When planning a quilting project, it’s easy to focus more on the quilt top where most of the decorative work goes. However, selecting the right fabric for the backing is also important.
What’s the best fabric choice for quilt backing? The answer will depend on your needs and preferences. In general, though, quilting cotton fabric offers the best results. As such, it is the most commonly used fabric for quilt backing.
When choosing a fabric for quilt backing, there are a couple of things to take into consideration. Let’s learn more about quilt backing and the different approaches you can take.
What is Quilt Backing?
Quilt backing refers to the bottom layer of fabric in a quilt sandwich. When you flip a quilt over, the fabric on the rear is the backing. The other two layers of a quilt are the top, and the batting (the middle layer).
Quilt backing is sometimes referred to as quilt lining. It can be made from large pieces of specially designed backing fabric or from smaller pieces of fabric that are stitched together to fit the quilt.
How to Choose Quilt Backing
Substrate refers to the kind of fabric used as backing for a quilt. Generally, the same substrate used for the quilt top is also used for the backing. If you’re using quilting cotton for your quilt top, it is wise to also use a cotton fabric as backing.
There are generally three types of quilt backings to choose from:
- Wideback fabrics
- Pieced backings
- Scrappy quilt backing
Widebacks are large pieces of fabric that are ideal for quilt backing. They are 108” wide and cheaper per square yard than regular 44” quilting cotton. Thus, they’re quite cost effective and convenient. They are also ideal for use with longarm quilting machines.
Pieced backings, on the other hand, are made by piecing together smaller sized fabrics until they’re large enough for use as a quilt backing. Often, 44” wide quilting cotton fabrics are stitched together to fit the quilt top.
The third method is to piece together any scraps you have available, such as the leftover pieces from the quilt top. This is, of course, the most cost-effective method of making quilt backing. However, it can be time-consuming and requires sewing lots of seams.
Nonetheless, piecing scraps together can be interesting compared to the other quick and easy options. You can add a bit of creativity and originality to your quilt backings.
Of course, you’ll also need to consider the color of the fabric you choose. If you would like the quilting to stand out on the back, it’s best to choose a fabric with a solid color. You should also consider the thread colors (or choose from our list of the best invisible thread) you plan to use for the quilting.
Another important factor to consider is how the quilt will be used. If it’s likely to end up stained during usage, you might want to choose a fabric with a busy print design to help disguise such stains.
How Much Quilt Backing Do I Need?
When cutting quilt backing, you should make sure that it’s a little larger than the quilt top. This will give allowance for the shrinkage and distortions that will creep in during the quilting process.
Most quilters leave at least three to four inches of backing extending from all sides of the quilt. Thus, the quilt backing will have to be six to eight inches larger than the quilt top in all directions.
Why is Quilting Cotton Fabric Ideal for Quilt Backings?
Quilting cotton fabrics are medium weight fabrics that are made from 100% cotton. These fabrics tend to hold their shape even after a lot of washing.
Quilting cotton fabrics are also beginner-friendly and very easy to use. They usually come in pieces that are only 44 inches wide. However, some wide quilting cotton fabrics are 108 inches wide.
Other Types of Quilting Fabric
While quilting cotton fabric is a great choice for making quilt backings, there are other options you might want to consider. Some of these include flannel, voile, and linen.
Flannel is another commonly used fabric for quilting and it’s available in a variety of designs. It’s a soft and cuddly fabric that is often used to make baby quilts. Flannel can be made from wool, cotton, or synthetic fiber.
Voile is a soft, lightweight, slightly transparent fabric that is also used for quilting.
Linen offers a nice textured look and a cool feel. However, it’s not the most ideal material for quilting. Thus, most quilters opt for quilter’s linen, which is a cotton fabric that has a similar texture and feel to linen.
How to Piece Quilt Backing Fabrics Together
If you have several pieces of matching fabrics, you can sew them together to create a pieced quilt backing. Before you start sewing, you’ll need to calculate the yardage length for a single piece. You can do this by dividing the height of your quilt plus an extra 4 inches by 36.
Once you’ve done that, measure the width of your quilt. Cut the pieces of fabric to the length of your quilt. Remember to add an excess of about 4 inches.
Now, sew the panels together with a half-inch seam allowance. You may want to ensure that the prints on the panels match when sewn together. You can use seams that run horizontally or vertically across the quilt backing.
In order to make the most of your available fabric, it’s best to use vertical seams for quilts that are larger than 60 inches in width, and horizontal seams for smaller quilts. Make sure to press the seams open to reduce bulk and to create a more durable backing.
The Top 5 Fabrics For Quilt Backing 
The plethora of options available when it comes to fabrics for quilt backing can be overwhelming. You need to make the right fabric choices to produce quality quilts.
Well, we’ve taken a close look at the options on the market, and here are some of the best products we found.
|1.||Mybecca 100% Cotton Muslin Fabric||Medium-weight fabric, 63" wide|
|2.||Robert Kaufman Quilters Linen Fabric||Cotton-linen fabric, 44" wide|
|3.||100% Cotton Indonesian Batik Fabric||100% cotton, 43" wide|
|4.||Cotton Flannel Fabric - 45" Wide||100% cotton, 45" wide|
|5.||Robert Kaufman Essex Natural Flax Linen Fabric||55% flax linen, 45% cotton|
1. Mybecca 100% Cotton Muslin Fabric
The Mybecca cotton muslin fabric is a medium weight fabric that is great for use as a quilt backing.
The fabric is made from 100% cotton and has a soft touch and a smooth finish.
The fabric is sold in pieces that are either 1, 2, 5, 10, or 100 yards in length. The fabric is 63” wide.
It has a light drape and a premium feel. It can be used, not only for quilting, but also for embroidery, fittings, and drapings.
While the fabric can be machine washed, it is recommended that low settings be used to keep it in good shape. You could also hand wash and air dry your cotton fabrics for the best results.
2. Robert Kaufman Quilters Linen Fabric
Despite what the name says, this Robert Kaufman fabric is a quilting cotton fabric.
It does, however, look like and feel almost like linen. Thus, it’s a unique fabric that you can use for different quilting projects.
The Robert Kaufman brand is a well-known manufacturer of fashion fabrics, home decor fabrics, and quilting fabrics.
The steel-colored fabric is made from 100% cotton.
The Robert Kaufman Quilters Linen fabric is sold by the yard.
The pieces are 44 inches wide, so might have to do some piecing together to get a backing that’s wide enough for your needs.
3. 100% Cotton Indonesian Batik Fabric
This Indonesian Batik fabric is a nice looking 100% cotton fabric that can be used for quilt backing purposes.
It is sold by the yard and comes in pieces that are 43 inches wide.
The fabric is available in a number of colors including gold, olive, red, and chocolate.
The fabric is very well made and the color options and designs are lovely. If you’re looking for a stunning fabric to finish your quilting projects, this is a great choice to consider.
4. Cotton Flannel Fabric – 45″ Wide
If you want an alternative to quilting cotton fabrics, this cotton flannel fabric is a great choice.
It’s soft, warm, and made from 100% cotton.
The product is sold by the yard and cut to order. It comes in 45 inch wide pieces.
This flannel fabric is available in a wide range of colors. It’s great for making baby quilting projects.
5. Robert Kaufman Essex Natural Flax Linen Fabric
This Robert Kaufman fabric is made from 55% natural flax linen and 45% cotton.
It’s ideal for use as quilt backing.
The fabric can be purchased in half-yard increments, which is great if you want to purchase a more precise length of fabric.
This Essex linen fabric offers nice results when combined with other fabrics like regular quilting cotton.
It’s a nice product to consider if you want to experiment with Essex linen fabrics.