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Thread: Is it heresy

  1. #1
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    Is it heresy

    ...if I use sheets for quilt backing? I hand quilt so I like solid backing so the quilting is more visible. The price is right if I find sheets at Ross or on Groupon.
    What do you see as the pros and cons!

  2. #2
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Not Heresy and done quite often. The only thing I would avoid are the uber high thread count sheets. The weave is so dense it might give you some difficulty needling, much like batiks can be a bit tougher to hand quilt due to their denseness.

    I do know a lot of LA quilters don't like to use sheets because the longarm needle is much bigger than a regular SM needle and it can have a tendency to actually break the warp or weft threads of the sheet rather than sliding between them (on the super high thread count ones) . There is also a bit of disconcerting "thwock thwock thwock" sound with every stitch. But for handquilting you shouldn't have that issue.

    Many here highly recommend using vintage sheets from thrift stores if you can find them.

    I have used flannel sheets too!

  3. #3
    Super Member Annie68's Avatar
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    The cons that I see would be that because the thread count is much higher in sheets than quilt fabric, it will be difficult to hand quilt. Having said that I've heard of lots of people who do go ahead and hand quilt with sheets. I'd say trim a piece off and see how it handles for you, good luck!

  4. #4
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    I am a longarm quilter and use sheets as backing all of the time with no problems. My APQS Lenni can not tell the difference between sheets and quilting fabric. I quilt them all, all cotton, poly/cotton and flannel. I won’t use microfibre sheets as I don’t like the feel of them. Sheets do not warp or break my needle and my needle has not broken or warped the sheet. For me, sheets make a very affordable backing for quilts that are going to be used every day. You would need to choose a sheet that wasn’t as tightly woven for hand quilting or say a lot of bad words trying to get your needle through easily.
    Shelbie from the High County in Southern Ontario

  5. #5
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelbie View Post
    I am a longarm quilter and use sheets as backing all of the time with no problems. My APQS Lenni can not tell the difference between sheets and quilting fabric. I quilt them all, all cotton, poly/cotton and flannel. I won’t use microfibre sheets as I don’t like the feel of them. Sheets do not warp or break my needle and my needle has not broken or warped the sheet. For me, sheets make a very affordable backing for quilts that are going to be used every day. You would need to choose a sheet that wasn’t as tightly woven for hand quilting or say a lot of bad words trying to get your needle through easily.
    Shelby you misunderstood my post. The needle doesn't break and nothing is warped. Sheets are woven. Warp is the term used for the threads that are mounted lenghwise on the loom and weft are threads that weave over and under the warp threads which forms the fabric. All woven fabric is made this way. It takes a very trained eye and you have to be looking for it specifically but any longarm needle, which is much larger as you know, can, and often will break either the warp or weft thread rather than sliding between them as most needles do with normal quilting fabric. This is especially true of high thread count sheets which is probably why many people, especially longarmers don't like to use them. You won't see a hole but if you examine carefully you will see what often looks like a "run" in the fabric. Much like us old school garment sewers would find the straight of grain by pulling a single thread. This only happens with high count sheets. Next time you quilt using a high count sheet examine the back very carefully with magnifyer, I suspect you will find a few.
    There is no reason you can't continue to use sheets but if you quilt for others it would be a disservice to your clients not to mention the possiblity of this happening and let them make the decision. If you only quilt for yourself and don't care, then it doesn't matter. The damage is so minute it really won't effect how the quilt wears over time. It may be called out in a show.

  6. #6
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    I use sheets when I can get them. Using sheets for backing is nothing new... been done forever!
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  7. #7
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    ​If you are hand quilting, I would wash the sheet first to make it softer. The stiffness of brand new sheets can make it difficult to get small hand stitches.

  8. #8
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    the very first quilt i ever made, [mumble mumble] years ago not only had a sheet on the back, i used an old blanket instead of "official" batting.
    hand quilted it, too.

    i didn't say it was easy to HQ.
    didn't say there were tiny stitches or a lot of quilting.

    just said i managed to finish it. lol

    used that sucker for many years until it finally went to the pet shelter.
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  9. #9
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    if you like using the sheets and happy how your lovely quilting looks why not I use sheets and do not have any cons about it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Faintly Artistic's Avatar
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    Not heresy at all. I use sheets for backing all the time, except I get them at the thrift store or from my used ones that are looking rough around the edges. I even use the vintage blends with no problems. (Audible gasp from the quilting police). I hand quilt and avoid the high thread count sheets. I made some small test samples, hand and machine quilted them and threw them in the washer/dryer to test. Nothing blew up or shrank funny, so I figured I was okay. Cheap backing fabric and no extra seams to hand quilt through.

  11. #11
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    I have quilted sheets as backing for clients (APQS longarm) - no problem
    , but myself,I prefer good quality muslin.

    But my concern is: why put an "old" - vintage sheet on the back of new fabric and batt....even though it may be cotton, it has a lifespan and actually the backs get more wear than the tops......just me thinking out loud........

  12. #12
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    Thank you for your detailed explanation feline fanatic. I don’t quilt for clients and use my machine to quilt for Community Quilts, friends and family and I haven’t seen the “runs” you mention but then I probably haven’t used high thread count sheets either.
    Shelbie from the High County in Southern Ontario

  13. #13
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    I made 2 whole cloth quilts using a sheet for the front and the back. Had no problem hand quilting them. The sheets were cotton poly blend.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Ginaky's Avatar
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    My mom handquilted using sheets for a backing all the time--I still have several of them. She was a great quilter and had no problems at all. And they are still holding up great!
    Regina in Richmond, KY

  15. #15
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    I did it back when I started and they were tough to (hand) quilt through. I think it was the sizing. I would not use used sheets, how do you know when they are going to "give"?

    When we first started making quilts, many people commented on how nice it was to have printed backing, they were used to seeing muslin I guess. This was in the 1980's. I still get comments on how the quilts are reversible.

  16. #16
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    I've done a few flannel sheets, I buy them new at big box on clearance usually and then wash and dry on hot a couple times then start sandwiching! Don't see why you couldn't use a "regular" (non super high thread count) cotton sheet, I haven't but just because my family likes flannel and I can get the flannel flat sheets cheaper

  17. #17
    Super Member Jeanette Frantz's Avatar
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    I haven't used sheets as backing -- but I do watch the sales. I have 3 quilts that are very large king size quilt tops, and even a king-size sheet would not be big enough. At the same time, I purchased very good quality muslin (118" wide) and, using a coupon, got it for 60% off -- results - my cost $21 plus sales tax, instead of regular price of $52. Sheets can be pretty expensive, too.

  18. #18
    Super Member Aurora's Avatar
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    My projects are usually smaller as I don't have enough room to work on full-size quilts. I frequently use a heavy-weight unbleached muslin for my backing. I also use it for my hand embroidery. I like the way it finishes.
    Aurora

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  19. #19
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    There is absolutely nothing wrong with sheets. Believe your common sense and skip all the hype about unbelievably expensive high end quilting fabrics. I understand that they have their place just like the Westminister dog show has a place for some dog lovers. I love my rescue dog and my recycled fabrics. Recycling is part of the legacy we leave our grandchildren and a great way to make wonderful, unique items. If you get a chance to recycle a sheet, try it.
    "The great doing of little things makes the great life." Eugena Price

  20. #20
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    I use sheets quite often for backing a quilt. I must admit that I do not hand quilt because it hurts my arthritic fingers too much. Sheets are usually wide enough for a one-piece backing, and there is certainly enough variety to get a good color match to the quilt top. I do FMQ on my regular sewing machine, and I've never had any problems other having to wrestle a little bit with a queen size.
    Sometimes I try to act "normal," but it gets boring so I just go back to being myself.

  21. #21
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    Other than when entering a quilt in a show - you make the rules! I often use sheets, but I try to buy a 'lesser' quality sheet (a lower thread count). Top end sheets with very high thread count are pretty but very difficult to quilt. And, with quilts that are going to be heavily used, abused and not carefully washed (mostly the ones going off to colleges or first apartments), I have often used blankets for batting and sheets for backing. Much cheaper and abusable and I am not overly sad if they get lost or ruined.

  22. #22
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    feline fanatic, thanks. I have always heard no sheets for backing but now that I am retired living on social security (that's a joke) I couldn't figure out how to buy backing material. I squirrelled away enough fabric for tops to last as long as I will (at least I hope I can use it all up) but didn't think about getting a generic fabric that I could use on backs. I never wash my material first so I would need to buy new sheets which would still cost less than material, I think. I am definitely going to check that out.

  23. #23
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    klswift, thanks. More great information.

  24. #24
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    I make baby quilts for charity, and I use sheets that are in good shape from thrift shops often. The quilts get used heavily and washed lot. They are usually not kept long after the babies outgrow them. No problems ever reported. And, remember, quilts used to be made from well-worn clothing, and they ended up being cherished.
    So, go for it and enjoy!!

  25. #25
    Super Member AnnT's Avatar
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    I say go for it! I often use sheets when I can't find something I like in fabric as a backing or because I like the sheet design. It looks just as good as anything else and is sometimes cheaper.
    Take time to recharge your batteries. Itís hard to see where youíre going when your lights are dim. Robert H. Connelly

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