Sampler Quilt Backing, Batting and Quilting


Sure the blocks are fun, but you are only half way there, now comes the part that makes it into a true quilt!

Now that I am into the actual quilting of the layers, I alter between not having any time to get to it and having plenty of time but hurting my fingers so that I can’t continue for a few days.  I’m sorry to say I am not a thimble wearer and just can’t seem to get the hang of it.  Instead, I beat up my fingers and have to rest them for a couple days before getting back at it!

But enough about my troubles, let’s get to the matter at hand, how to create the backing for your quilt and adding the quilt batting!


Materials List:

  • Backing fabric to fit your quilt top
  • Quilt batting
  • Pins
  • Quilter’s hoop
  • Thimble (if you are smart)


1. If you have created a sampler quilt that is less than 43” wide, then you will have a single piece of fabric for your backing.  If your quilt top is wider, like mine, you will have to piece your backing together to make it wide enough.  Do not create a larger backing by sewing a seam down the center, instead use the larger width of fabric in the center and add two side panels to get the width desired.


To figure this out, measure the size of your quilt.  To do this project the right way, make your backing 3” larger than your quilt top, all the way around, so you can baste these edges to the front of the quilt top while you are quilting.  (I have to admit, I don’t do this.  I’m so sorry, I’m just so impatient with some things and since I make a quilt for myself, I don’t feel I have to do all the steps to get a good result…that’s just me.)


Because my quilt was 12 blocks, I needed to add to the width of my fabric for the backing.  So, I cut two side strips and stitched them to either side of a single width panel that I placed in the center.  Iron the seam open and the entire backing flat.


2. Next, lay the backing on a large table or even the floor with the right side down.  Put pins in the backing to mark the center of the top and bottom.  Place the quilt batting you’ve chosen on top of the backing and cut the batting to size.  (Cut to the size of your backing, you will trim it all down later.)


3. The third layer is your quilt top.  Lay it right side up over the batting making sure to center it up with the pins on your backing.  (Yours will have 3” of backing and batting extending beyond it.  Remember I can’t follow the rules!?)

4. Now it’s time to temporarily hold the three layers together.  There are two ways to do this.  One, you can baste the three layers together both horizontally and vertically by basting from the center of the quilt outward every 3” or so.  This will create a grid of basting stitches that will hold your quilt together neatly while you quilt.  Or two, you can use pins to hold the three layers together.  The negative of the pins is that they will fall out as you turn and twist your quilt to do the quilting stitches, and they will also prick you in the arms and legs quite often.


My suggestion is that you might as well baste it together since you’ll be turning the extra fabric from the backing over and basting it to the edge of the quilt top to keep the batting from fraying while you quilt.  So, go ahead and baste everything, meanwhile, I’ll pin baste, deal with the cuts and scrapes on my arms and legs and I will finish before you but mine won’t be as neat as yours!


Once all the basting is complete, you can quilt several different ways as well.  You can use a hoop like I do or a hoop on a stand, a quilting frame or just quilt without a hoop on your lap!  Choose the method that is most comfortable for you.



5. Generally, quilter’s will mark their quilt patterns on their quilts using a marking pencil or even a simple number 2 lead pencil will work.  Keep the lines light and do a washing test on your fabrics with different markers if you feel more comfortable.

You can find quilting templates at your local fabric store or you can make up your own designs.  The small blocks in this Mexican Star block could be quilted with x’s as you see here, the quilting could follow the blocks and create squares, or flowers could be quilted in each one.  It’s all up to you!  Keep in mind that the quilting will show up better on the solid color fabrics as is shown so save your complicated quilting designs for fabric that will show it off!


6. So as not to have thread knots hanging out of your backing, you enter the quilt top on the front about ½” from where you want to start on your quilting lines.  Pull the thread through gently and since you have only put a single tied knot in your thread, you can easily pull it through the first hole and keep the knot inside the quilt layers.

When quilting you should use Hand Quilting thread and needles called “Betweens”.  Use a small one, about a 10 or 12 to make sure your stitches are as small as possible.  In the world of quilting stitches, shorter and straighter, is best.  If you can keep the stitches and the spaces between them even, while stitching in a straight line, well then you are the bee’s knees!!

To end a line of stitching, do the same thing with the knot.  Before plunging into the fabric on your last stitch, put a single knot in about ½” from the fabric.  Insert the needle and bring the needle back out of the layers about3/4” from where you went in.   Gently pop the knot into the layers and cut off the remaining thread.

Well, that should give you enough information to get your top quilted.  Take your time, enjoy the process, alter your quilting designs if need be, but most of all, make yourself happy with your work.  Who knows when you’ll have time to do another!

After we have our quilts quilted, we will talk about how to add the binding to the edges and finish them off.  We will also discuss ways to hang your quilt, and maybe we can get Matt to make some quilt hanging devices for us as well!

Happy Quilting!


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