Have you found the perfect backing for your quilt, only it’s got a big and obvious repeat pattern that will look really weird if you don’t match it up? And now you’re wondering how to match a fabric print on your quilt back?
Depending on the complexity of your print, this can be a little confusing to tackle.
This is obviously an optional step, you certainly don’t have to take the time to match the print on your quilt backing. After all, most of the time, you’re tucked under the backing and don’t even see it 😉
I can assure you I have several quilts from early in my quilting journey where the backing prints don’t line up.
Does it bug me?
But once I discovered how relatively easy it is to match up your backing print, I now find myself paying attention to that detail.
So, why go the extra distance?
Well, the seamless results are hard to beat. The comment I got from my hubz when I showed him this backing was that if I hadn’t mentioned it, he would have thought it was one whole piece – that’s why you go the extra distance!
And as I mentioned it’s really not that complex to do, just a little bit fiddly.
Let me show you how!
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Materials and notions you’ll need to match your fabric prints
Here’s what you’re going to need to tackle lining up your backing panels.
- Backing fabric – I’m using this print from the Christmas in the City collection
- Seam gauge
- Ironing board or wool pressing mat
- Pins (optional)
- Sewing machine
- Piecing thread
- Cutting mat
- Rotary cutter with these blades
How to Match a Fabric Print on Your Quilt Back
The first step is to determine the size of your quilt backing.
Before cutting your quilt backing panels, take a look at the size of your repeating pattern. The larger the repeat, the more excess fabric you may need to match up the prints.
I made this mistake when I was matching the backing on my Ecliptic quilt featuring Tilda Lazy Day. The print is gorgeous but it’s also quite large. I didn’t have enough fabric to cover the backing of my quilt while also having enough to offset my panels to line up the print. Blergh. I just added a bottom border, so there’s an easy fix, but it wasn’t the look I was going for.
The moral of the story, take a look at your repeat print along with how big your quilt backing needs to be to make sure you have enough fabric on hand for everything to line up and cover your quilt 😉
Once you’ve got your repeat identified and panels cut, the next step is to fold one of the raw edges of your panel over about 1¼”, with the wrong sides together, then press.
You’re creating a seam that you’ll be able to then line up along the second panel. You need to give yourself enough room to accommodate a ½” seam allowance, and also some trimming room after you’ve stitched the panels together.
The width of your folded seam doesn’t have to be exact (e.g. could be an inch wide) but you do want it to be consistent. I used a seam gauge to keep things nice and even.
With the entire length nicely pressed, and working in sections, add a small dab of glue to the folded side of the seam allowance and line up the repeat print along the edge of the second panel. Once you’re happy with how they match up, press to temporarily keep the fabrics in place.
Too much isn’t a good thing here, but too little and it won’t stick.
Continue working in sections, applying glue, lining the prints up, and finger pressing.
Once you have the entire length glued down, leave it for about 10 minutes so the glue can dry.
Carefully flip the top panel onto the other panel, which will reveal the raw edges of the panels and open up the seam allowance you folded and pressed.
You could opt to pin at this point so that things don’t shift or unglue on you, but I’ve found that if I just leave the glue to dry a little, things seem to stay put.
At the sewing machine, stitch directly in the fold of the seam.
I follow the indentation and that seems to give me pretty good results 😉
Once you have the two panels stitched together, take a peek at how your print is lining up.
I like to do this juuuuust to be sure that things haven’t gone awry at the machine before I go ahead and trim my seam allowance down to ½”.
With your seam trimmed, now you can press your seam open.
Stand back and admire your lovely and seamlessly matched quilt backing print! Hurray!
Not so bad after all, right?!
You’re now all set on how to match a print on your quilt back!
For more quilty inspiration, check out:
- 5 Things Every Quilter Should Know about Batting Bolts
- Double Windmill Quilt
- Sew Organized with the Sit ‘n Sew Pinnie
- Sustainable Quilting Through the Art of Modern Improv
Hope that helps demystify the print-matching process and leaves you knowing exactly how to match a fabric print on your quilt back 😊
Happy print matching!
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