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Thread: Your backings: Plain White or Coordinated Color?

  1. #1
    Super Member Eddie's Avatar
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    When I was at a quilt show a few months ago, I found myself looking at the backs of the quilts since a lot of them were hung perpendicular to the aisle and I could see the backs without touching the quilts. It seems like most of them had plain white backs on them. Which I found curious. I've never done a white backing, all of my backings have been with fabric that coordinates with the front, I guess because that's what I've seen in magazines and such so just always figured that was "the way" it was normally done.

    So, what do you do and why? Do you do both, depending upon the purpose?

  2. #2
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    I usually use some type of print fabric for my backs. I try to use the same quality fabric on the back as I do the front. It may not necessarily be a coordinating fabric but I try to pick one that will compliment what it on the front. There are a lot of people that will back their quilts with Muslin, it's cheaper and you can get it in large width's, however it is not a method I have chosen.

  3. #3
    Super Member LovingIzabella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie
    When I was at a quilt show a few months, I found myself looking at the backs of the quilts since a lot of them were hung perpendicular to the aisle and I could see the backs without touching the quilts. It seems like most of them had plain white backs on them. Which I found curious. I've never done a white backing, all of my backings have been with fabric that coordinates with the front, I guess because that's what I've seen in magazines and such so just always figured that was "the way" it was normally done.

    So, what do you do and why? Do you do both, depending upon the purpose?
    Eddie,
    I have done all of my backs with something that coordinates with the front. I have never used a white backing. I am wondering if that is something strictly done for show pieces? I would fear using a white backing as all of my quilts are loved and used by someone and white does not last too well.
    Hugs
    April

  4. #4
    farscapegal
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    My backs coordinate with the fronts. To me, the back is as important as the front.

    Sybil

  5. #5
    quiltingmom86's Avatar
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    It depends upon the quilt. Purpose and type. Kid drag around and love- flannel. Wedding quilt to keep for 100 years-white
    Man's quilt- coordinating with the front.
    A gift- depends on the person that I am giving it to.

    A wall hanging for just me to enjoy-ugly fabric that I have in my stash and really don't want to look at. but makes great backing.

    I made a mistake one time. Used a deffinate ugly on the back of a wall hanging for just me. Hand quilted as it was an antique block I found at a rummage sale. Ended up liking it and entered it in the county fair. Bad idea. The judge did not like the ugly on the back.
    Oh well, I think of her comments every time I change it out on the quilt hanger in my dining room.
    I am a firm believer quilting is an art. To me it's what make me happy. To some its "what's that?"
    quilting mom 86

  6. #6
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    I like a little bit of some pattern on my backs. I don't think I have done plain white. I have done some coordinated and some that seemed to go slightly with the front. I used to skimp on the backs, but now I figure they are just as important as the front so I get the good stuff.

  7. #7
    Super Member redkimba's Avatar
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    I've matched the front on my quilts so far. I think that if I did a white back, then it would be because I was trying to match the front.

  8. #8
    Power Poster sewnsewer2's Avatar
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    Me too Eddie, I coordinate the back, that way it's like 2 in one.

    I would think for a quilt that isn't going to be "used" that a white would be good.

    I want the quilts I make to be used tho. :-)

  9. #9
    Super Member janRN's Avatar
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    When I hand quilt I use plain white for the backing. Since I'm still learning machine quilting I use some type of print--it hides a multitude of mistakes!! LOL

  10. #10

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    I agree. I coordinate the backing with the front. They are meant to be used, white shows dirt so easily.

    More and more lately, I piece some backs to use up what was on the front. I also will make a coordinating block to use for a label and piece it right into the backing.

    If there isn't enough leftovers to make the backing big enough, I add coordinating blender pieces from my stash, paying attention to what will end up at the back border edge. I don't want too many seams at the edge and want the binding to look good with the border of the front and the backing.

    However, my puzzle-type backs might not please the judges. I'm not making quilts for competition.

  11. #11
    Bobbinwinder's Avatar
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    Eddie, was this a judged show? Were these quilts that you could see yourself using on a bed? Were whites and lights used much in the tops? Competition seems to take a big bite out of what most quiltmakers have in mind for their finished quilts....we want ours to be loved and used by the folks we love enough to give them to. Some show quilts are just for show...and the makers want ribbons and recognition. It's all okay...there's room for everyone in the quilting world. I'm more about the two-sided quilts, myself...why not really enjoy both sides?

  12. #12
    Super Member Eddie's Avatar
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    It was a judged show, and the quilts were all excellent, there were no slouchy ones in it. I was wondering is a show quilt would for some reason have a white backing as opposed to a utility one that would be used everyday having a coordinating backing.

  13. #13
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
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    If the quilt is to be used regularly I coordinate the front and back. If the quilt will hang at my home, I really don't care much, but if it is a wallhanging for sale is coordinated too. On the other hand, I also take into consideration how I will quilt it. Whole cloth quilts get the exact same fabric on the front and the back. If I have complicated quilting I want to show, I will use a solid color coordinating with the front. If I don't want to show the quilting then I use something printed.

  14. #14
    Super Member Barb_MO's Avatar
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    For years all I used on the back of my quilts was bleached or unbleached muslin. I love the softness of muslin. Then I had a chanch to buy bolts of white on white and natural on white at wholesale prices. I started using that and it still had the same softness as the muslin.
    I very seldom match or coordinate the back with the front.

  15. #15
    Blockhead's Avatar
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    I was going to use calico (muslin) for quilt backs, but have since found out it's best for beginner quilters to use patterned backs as they hide mistakes very well.

    Calico is a lot cheaper than printed cottons, so I was pondering the idea of tie-dying calico (in co-ordinating colours). All I need to do now is learn how to tie-dye!

  16. #16
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i agree that the whites and off-whites show soil too fast. but for a special quilt or to show off very fine handstitching, there's nothing like white. my opinion only.
    i would never use any pale color for a child's quilt until he/she stopped dragging it around and was out of diapers. i would also never handstitch a baby quilt. , but there are lots of members who do. i would certainly do it for a tidy 10 or 12 year old. i don't want to see my effort made into a tent or being thrown around at other children (which i have) to play tug-o-war. so i generally use color coordinates for quilts unless they're special.

  17. #17
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    If by judged, you mean juried, I am surprised that the the backings were white. If you mean simply that ribbons were given, as in a guild show or something similar, then I guess it's understandable if that's what that group does. The guild shows here do not. They coordinate their backs with the front. Personally, I hate white and light colors and would never use them for backings as they would never go with what I put on my fronts. :oops:

  18. #18
    Senior Member pam1966's Avatar
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    I know nothing about why white was used, and I know even less about quilting. That said, maybe they did it to better show the quilting they did? Maybe it was easier to see on a plain white background or something. I don't know.

    I usually try to coordinate. I don't go overboard on it, but I like to try. If I can't then I use very soft muslin.

  19. #19
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    pam1966 says:
    That said, maybe they did it to better show the quilting they did? Maybe it was easier to see on a plain white background or something. I don't know

    muslin was traditionally used because it was less expensive than dyed goods. quilters spent their money on the dyed and patterned fabrics for the front of the quilt, where it was seen. the back was, well, the back.

  20. #20
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    I do both, some I coordinate and others i go with tone on tone or muslin. Depends on my mood more than anything. LOL

  21. #21
    Bobbinwinder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie
    It was a judged show, and the quilts were all excellent, there were no slouchy ones in it. I was wondering is a show quilt would for some reason have a white backing as opposed to a utility one that would be used everyday having a coordinating backing.
    Not at all an expert on this, or anything else, but I have friends who quilt for competition and have had the opportunity to hear some of the judging criteria, etc. The quilting should be visible...every stitch makes a difference to some judges. When they flip the quilt, it is to see the quilting. There should be no shadowing visible from the back to the front...and since handquilters are using thin batts much of the time if there is any light/white on front, there needs to be light/white behind the batt. White is not a no-no for a quilt that will rarely be anywhere except on a judging table, hanging in a show, packed for transport or storage. There's also no chance of using a color or print that the judge might have a slant toward/against if you opt white/light. Quilting on the front is all about making the most of the pattern...quilting on the back is all about the quilting...it takes the spotlight there and should not have to compete with a print. Think wholecloth and how you've wondered why someone left so much open space...to the detriment of balance. More and more the trend is back to the plain white/light backs for competition...seems its about winning favor of judges by making their work easier. Oh, not all entries will be in the hunt for ribbons...they're beautiful, and well made and hang square...but they are just rarely lucky enough to overcome what the "professional amateur competitor" has done because the goals were different from the start. I love to see them all...and thank God there's usually a Viewer's Choice ballot for those of us in the real world to vote for... and it doesn't often turn out to be the Best in Show winner. Don't you just love walking amongst all those quilts...it's just wonderful!

  22. #22
    Super Member Janstar's Avatar
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    I've never thought about it before but have used both in shows. I usually take my quilts to the LAer. It's like Shadow said, what ever mood I'm in!

  23. #23
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    I have mostly used a cream colored back, because I have usually hand quilted my quilts and the recipients of the quilts have been people who really love to see the quilting on the back as much as the pieced front. I have just recently made two quilts that I had machine quilted for me, one was reversable, exactly the same pattern on the front as the back, just different fabrics and the other had a coordinating fabric with the front of the quilt.

  24. #24

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    I use a coordinating fabric, sometimes a print... Never white... But I don't compete and have messy kids!

  25. #25
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    I'm from Alabama, 62 yo, & my grandmothers both used muslin, feed sacks, whatever in quilts, as well as the clothes they made us when I was real small. Once my Dad got a Government Job, we moved out of the Country & our economic situation got better.

    Eddie there are reasons people use different fabrics, colors, prints, solids. I've found fabric has different weights & if blindfolded I bet I could tell by feel which is Quilt Store quality. I've read several other quilters on the Board talk about the "feel" of their fabric. Take the feel test for yourself. Ask Melissa to take different fabrics, blindfold you & see if you can tell the difference. My fabric also "talks" to me. I know if I've made a mistake just by the sound of the machine, or if hand quilting how my needle is positioned (when it comes out the back side).

    I tried tea dying muslin last summer, before my surgery, so plan to do more of that. It gives more of a Country look. I was using unbleached muslin, which showed up impurities in streaking, so will get bleached muslin for my upcoming quilts. Now that my grandchildren are teens, maybe they won't drag them outside.

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