Most quilting fabric is about 42" wide. When you are cutting strips, it is a managable size. When it comes to backing quilts it just isn't wide enough. Sometimes I solve this with adding extra blocks to the back or piecing the back with a bunch of other fabrics. Other times, I just really want the backing fabric to look like one continous piece so I've perfected my pattern matching. It is super easy. I promise.
Depending on the repeat of the fabric you will need to have extra fabric for this. If you're lucky the repeat and the length of your quilt means you only need a few extra inches. Sometimes you aren't lucky and will need an extra half yard or more! GASP! The lengths we will go to for a beautiful quilt, am I right?
Bonus tip: When you are piecing a quilt back like this you want to think about how your quilt is folded. When you put the seam of the quilt back right in the middle and you fold it on this line it puts a lot of stress on this seam over time. To help with this it is better to place the full width of fabric centred on the quilt and then add the additional needed fabric on either side. Then you get to practice pattern matching twice on one quilt!
- Fabric (of course)
- Iron (and ironing board)
- Washable Glue Stick (I use Elmer's because it was on sale)
- Sewing machine
- Cutting tools
- Cut one whole width of fabric to the length you need for your quilt back.
- Along the edge of the piece you just cut you will now start trying to determine where you can add your next piece as close to the top and edge as you can. In the picture you can see I got lucky, my repeat worked along the selvedge and really close to the top of the second piece. Other times it has been really far apart and this is where having extra yardage comes into play.
- Next pick a straight line from the top of the second piece of fabric which will make pattern matching easier. I fold back the fabric and play around with which lines will give me enough landmarks that It's easy to line up but that also gives me a bit of play if my ironing isn't 100% exact. Getting out a ruler and marking your path with a fabric safe marker may help here as well. In the picture you can see I took the line part way through the big unicorn which also included the hoof of the little unicorn. This made matching it all back up easier.
- Now fold the fabric back along this line you made and give it a nice good press. I find it easer to have the fabric wrong side up and then fold the fabric along the determined line towards the back. You want a nice crisp edge so go to town, use your starch or starch alternative if you want.
- Now comes the fun part! You get to glue your fabric together. Don't worry, it all washes out. Focus on a small section at a time (maybe 10") add a line of glue on the back of the second piece of fabric right beside the fold. Then glue it down to the main piece of fabric taking care to match up all the details. Once you have it placed perfectly then give it an iron which will set the glue. Work your way down the entire piece. The glue holds pretty well but it isn't like super glue so remember to treat it gently so your pieces don't come apart.
- Once its all glued together it's time to sew. Carefully peel back the second piece of fabric to open up the fold. Now you will sew in the crease to secure the fabric. Go slow and try to keep your line right in the crease. I find a lamp off to the side of the fabric helps the line show up.
- Now flip it open and be amazed at how awesome your newly pieced back is! If there are some areas that are a bit off now is a great time to try to fix them, or not. I'm a big believer in my items to contain enough flaws that people know it is handmade. Once you are happy with your piece you can trim off the excess fabric on the back. I tend to leave about a 1/2" of fabric. PLEASE take care while you are doing this, it's easy for the backing to get folded under your ruler and you cut a big hole in the part of the backing you want to keep. Ask me how I know that this happens? lol
- Repeat for piece 3 if needed. Then trim off the excess fabric to the size you need for the back of your quilt (Don't forget to cut it bigger than the quilt front).
Now you too are a superstar pattern matcher! You can use this in so many projects. This particular unicorn fabric was pieced to make a super big minky blanket. I've used this method for matching stripes in pouches, lining up patterns for side seams in clothing (nothing worse that a miss matched stripe on a shirt!). I would love to see your results! Give @myfabricheart a tag on social media so I can see how this method works for you!