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Not all 108" backing fabric is 108"!

Not all 108" backing fabric is 108"!

Old 09-17-2018, 04:50 PM
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Unhappy Not all 108" backing fabric is 108"!

I recently ordered a Wilmington Print Essentials 108" wide backing for a quilt. This was a replacement for some backing I had already bought that was not big enough.

When I received the fabric I pressed it to get the seams out and then I measured the backing from selvedge to selvedge. The Backing was only 104" - even though it was clearly stamped on the selvedge as 108".

I needed a minimum of 108" since my quilt was 102" long and I was loading it on my longarm. Luckily I had ordered 3.5 yards of it. So I was still able to use it - just not attaching the selvedges to the leaders.

So my advice - measure your wide backing to ensure that it is wide enough!

I did find the Wilmington Print website and sent them an email explaining the issue.
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Old 09-17-2018, 05:35 PM
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if you used steam when you pressed it, that may have caused some shrinkage... just a thought
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Old 09-17-2018, 07:01 PM
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I hope you get a response from the company because even using steam, it shouldn’t shrink 4 inches.
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Old 09-18-2018, 02:44 AM
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A few years ago I received several large backings with customer quilts that stated "108" inches wide, but they measured 104". I was able to load and use them as intended by my customers with the exception of one. I don't remember the manufacture of the backings, but I did mention it to my customers so they would be aware when purchasing their backings.
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Old 09-18-2018, 06:07 AM
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I got a wide back from a customer that had 108" written on the selvedge. She had washed it. From experience I have learned to measure before I load even though it was a wide back. I was stunned when it only measured 96" selvedge to selvedge. I made sure the selvedge was intact on both sides. This from a well known quilt fabric company. I would not have been surprised to find shrinkage from 108 to 104 after washing but a 12" shrinkage is unbelievable.
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Old 09-18-2018, 06:12 AM
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I"ve always found extra wide backing to shrink a lot. The store where I buy most of it has a big sign up to expect extra shrinkage and to prewash due to this.

I do prewash my backing and then have DH help me fold it up and put it away until I need it. When I need it wider, I run it length wise and cut off what I need, then put a horizontal seam to add the extra - ie if I need 108" I would cut one length at 118". And if it measures 100" wide, I'd cut strip at about 20" and then subcut it and sew it into one length, and add it to the bottom. I don't like long vertical seams for mounting to the LA, but shorter ones on the end don't cause the same problem.

I routinely make quilts wider then the backing so do this quite often.
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Old 09-18-2018, 07:32 AM
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I am not happy to hear this. i have at least four or five backing fabrics in a dresser drawer. sigh.
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Old 09-18-2018, 07:53 AM
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I periodically get all riled up about this topic. I've noticed in the last few years that yardage width is not included on bolt information as much any more, and so I've taken to having it measured before I have it cut and when I am calculating the yardage needed I base it on 40" WoF. Part of the reason I have the amount of small bits of fabric that I do is I'd rather have half a yard too much than be 4" too short.

Back around Y2K I used to do a lot of fabric swapping, and I was simply amazed at how often I could barely get (4) 10" squares out of yardage marked 44/45". I tried to start online indignation but was mostly met with apathy. I wrote letters to my state's weights and measures division as well as the federal. The quilt fabric industry is billions of dollars per year, it's not a minor thing.

The thing is that a lot of times it is NOT a by-product of the manufacturing process or shrinkage, it is done with the intent to save/make money for the manufacturers by skimming off a couple of inches to us, but on a 600-1000 yard length of greige goods (basically raw fabric) it adds up to a lot of extra yardage for the manufacturers. The way the printing process works they know very well what the size the rolls are and that we are being shorted. And then boo to the manufacturers who add a 1" unprinted selvedge to each side...

Related to backs in particular, boy oh boy, how often then are badly cut! I've lost significant yardage truing up the fabric, almost half a yard once because I had a bad cut going in one direction on one side and the other direction on the other side, I ended up having to buy another back. I've always included extra just in case but instead of inches I've started getting an extra half yard. (Edit: Sometimes it isn't so much the cutters that are the problem but that the fabric isn't folded/wound around the bolt correctly.)

So the answer is to always do a "dry fit" of the back to the top, no matter what the measurements say. I've always been a strong proponent for prewashing as well.

For my one little sparkle of good news, the quilt backs rarely go on sale at Joann Fabrics and so it's a great use for those 50-60% off coupons when the rest of the store is already marked down 30%
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Old 09-18-2018, 08:12 AM
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I found out that after I have starched and pressed my regular 42-44" fabrics that they also will shrink a little. Didn't realize it till I went to put it on the comic book board with the remaining fabric. That's when I noticed it.
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Old 09-18-2018, 09:29 AM
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I made a quilt in the 1990's - and used a Kaufman fabric for the backing - I just assumed it was 45 inches wide - nope - it was only 42 inches wide.

So - even years ago, fabrics were not always 45 inches wide.

I have found that some even "better brand" fabrics will shrink a lot. The Roc-Lon tea dyed "pre-shrunk" muslin shrank significantly when I washed it.

I have not found any particular rhyme or reason to know when a fabric will shrink or not. I have measured hundreds of fabrics before and after washing them (really! I have because I was wondering if it was worth the effort),

Almost all of the woven cottons shrank some - most of them shrank in only one direction. Some shrank a lot - I consider over two inches of shrinkage on a 42 inch width fabric to be significant.
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