What is your favourite fabric to back a quilt with?
There are several things to look at before choosing. What is the quilt being used for, who is it for, what size is it, and cost? Cuddle, Fireside, flannel and cotton all make great backings for a quilt. I do use all four options myself however, I almost always use cuddle fabric. I love the softness and texture of it, as well as the instant coziness it gives to a quilt. At Chicken Feed we carry cuddle from a company called Shannon Cuddle, and we have two widths available. In the 60" wide there is a wide range of color, pattern and texture options. In the 90" wide we have just the solid neutral colors, black, several shades of both brown and grey, and a navy blue, at the moment. Also quilting shows up really well on cuddle, so if you are putting a lot of work into that aspect, it will look really neat on the back.
My boys love cuddle on the back of their quilts, but when my son had a new quilt made for him out of hockey fabric, he wanted the flannel hockey players on the back instead of the cuddle.
There are other times that cuddle is not a great option. For example I used the Riley Blake collection called Road Trip to make a picnic blanket, and did not want to use cuddle on the back, but I thought that a gingham print from the line was very appropriate for what I would be using it for.
I am also currently working on a baby play mat, and will use cotton on
the back for two reasons. The first reason is that the blanket is meant to lay on the floor and be sat on, and not for snuggling up in, the second reason is that the quilt will fit on the 42" wide fabric.
If you know me, you know that I will avoid piecing a back as much as possible. I have even changed patterns to make my quilt top fit a 60" cuddle backing to avoid piecing. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with piecing backs, and I have seen some pretty incredible quilt backs, I just prefer to not do it, I have enough quilt tops to make.
This brings me to wide cotton backings. At Chicken Feed we are slowly bring in some 108" wide cotton backs. Most of them are still in the neutral colors, but the variety is growing. Also if you were waiting for the wide Kansas Trouble Fabric that Esther mentioned at the Kansas Troubles Workshop we have two in stock now. If you prefer cotton backings, but would rather not piece your back than these wide backs are a great choice. They just need a quick press and you are ready to move onto the next stage, quilting! Due to the width of the fabric it can be difficult for the manufacturers to roll it crisply, so if you find your fabric wrinkly or creased that is why.
If you are making quilts for charity, than maybe finding fabric on sale for the back of your quilt is priority. While we do have sales on cuddle these are usually unadvertised. Whereas bolts of cotton and flannel are at a very good discount on our semi-annual clearance sales, so that would be a good time to stock up on backs for those quilts. Come prepared with color options and sizes to make the best purchases.
If you are still reading there are a couple questions yet that I get asked frequently that I would like to address here yet for a moment.
What is the difference between Cuddle and Minky? I up until recently thought there was a difference, that minky was stretchier, and that cuddle was better for quilting. However after more research I learned that Minky is just a brand of Cuddle, so all minky is cuddle however not all cuddle is minky.
What is the cheaper option, cuddle or cotton? I get asked this often, and the answer often is cuddle. For a 54" by 74" lap, my favourite size to make, because it will fit on a cuddle back, I would need 2 meters of cuddle. This would give me 6" overhang to quilt, which is what most long armers prefer. If I chose a solid cuddle which are $20/m it would be $40 plus tax. If I chose a printed cuddle they are $30/m so my total would be $60 plus tax. A cotton back would need 3 meters, two strips of 6o" seamed together. At $19/m this would be $57 plus tax. Most flannels are about $19/m as well so the price of the flannel would be the same.
For a twin size quilt say 70"x90", I can usually get away with using the 90" cuddle, or should I say, I will make my quilt a couple inches shorter to fit the 90" back? I can get away for this for kids, but for teenagers I may be forced to go another route, maybe switch over to a 108" wide cotton back, either way you would need just under 2m of fabric. The 90" cuddle runs $30/m and 108" cotton runs at $31/m so price there is very similair, around $60, however if you wanted to use the standard 42" wide cotton back you would need about 5m of fabric, this would cost close to $100.
So contrary to popular belief cuddle is not the expensive choice, it's actually more affordable than you might think.
Now what about the difference between cuddle and fireside? At Chicken Feed we refer to Fireside as adult cuddle. It is still soft like cuddle, but it doesn't have the shine. I prefer fireside on my own bed, because to me it feels as if it breathes a little better, I have not found anything that can actually back that up, its just my personal opinion. Our Fireside is 60" wide and is $20 a meter so price wise it is the same as solid cuddle.
If you are still with me Congratulations, this is the end. If you have any other questions come in store and we will do our best to answer them. I am off to finish two quilts so I can choose some backs on Thursday and hopefully get them quilted and in the store in the next week or so.