When we look at quilts we typically focus on the front, where the blocks come together in a planned design, where the “fancy” fabric is used, and where the quilter shows off her technical skills. The backing often gets little thought, other than perhaps coordinating it with the front in color or pattern. And most quilters have made the mistake of trying to save a few pennies by using something inexpensive (“cheap”) and suffered the consequences such as stretching, colors running, and/or difficulty quilting.
Here are some quilts that feature unusual backings which defy our ideas about construction and appearance.
This Pearl Jam inspired quilt, made by a client for her daughter, uses fabric that features the band’s posters. The front includes the fabric in the disappearing nine-patch squares, and the back is about 2/3 poster fabric with two coordinating pieces at the top. The red fabric, a musical note print, was a good place for the band’s stick-man symbol. For the quilting, the client chose an edge-to-edge musical notes pattern, which I did on my long arm in a brown thread. While not intentionally made as a two-sided quilt, the interesting back could certainly double as an acceptable front.
Above and below are quilts that use extra blocks to add interest to the backside. This technique also gives the quilter a chance to use a piece of fabric that may not be large enough on its own, and that may or may not be included on the front. Both of these quilts were pieced by a client who works almost exclusively with second-hand fabric she finds or that friends bring to her. I quilted both on my long arm, using a different abstract edge-to-edge design for each one.
This bookcase quilt, made by a client for one of her sons, has a white backing that was like working on a blank canvass. We chose an edge-to-edge star pattern for quilting with maroon thread. While the quilting blends into many areas on the front, on the the back it is very distinct.
I’ve only done a couple of these pieced backings (see “A Day at the Zoo”) but after seeing all these interesting options I am looking forward to further experimentation!