Making an Art Backing

I am often asked how a backing that is too small can be increase in size so that it would have sufficient allowance for it to be attached to the rollers on my quilting machine, and to be clamped, to create a working base on which the patchwork top can sit for quilting.

Often the chosen backing fabric has the perfect print design to complement the quilt top so it would be a pity not to use it for the sake of it being a few inches too short & narrow. 

In situations such as this I like to create an “Art Back” by adding a piece into the body of the backing rather than adding “borders” to the edge of the backing. 

To Make an “Art Backing”

  1. Cut the backing in half  (see drawing 1)
  2. Now cut each half into 1/3 & 2/3 (or 1/4 & 3/4) (see drawing 1)
  3. Insert the extra width at each of these 3 seam lines (see drawing 2)
  4. If it only needed to be larger in one directions start at No 2 by cutting the backing into 1/3 & 2/3 so that the additional fabric is added “off centre”.


Drawing One: Cut the existing backing into pieces that are not perfectly symetrical

Drawing Two: Insert the new fabric along the cut lines so that they make an "arty" insert

There are several reasons why I always suggest that the extra be added within the backing rather than just on an edge:

  • If you add onto the edge the seam can some times end up very close to the the quilt edge and cause problems when adding a binding.
  • A narrow strip added to an edge looks as if you ran out of fabric
  • A piece added into the body of the backing looks as if you deliberately created an interesting backing, particularly if it is added in an “off-centre” position.
  • The fabric used for the addition can be sourced from leftovers from the front or even be spare blocks from the front.

I know that you never feel like doing any additional work once a quilt top is pieced. I think most of us are usually “over the design” by the time the last stitch is put into the patchwork, but it is such a waste to not go the little extra distant and turn the patchwork top into a quilt with a great backing.

It is a little more work, but it looks as if the backing design was “meant to be” rather than looking as if you ran out of fabric.

Once the top has the three dimensional appearance of a quilt it takes on a new life and you are ready to enjoy it again.

  See how other people have made “Art” Quilt Backings



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  1. […] it was obvious that you ran out of fabric and had to use another fabric to extend the backing. Get instructions for making an Art Backing for your next quilt or see more examples of Art Backs here If you […]

  2. […] Backs by Taryn of From Pixels to Patchwork Modern Pieced Backing by Christa of Christa Quilts Making an Art Backing by Jenny of Always Quilting Dotty Squares Backing by Karen of Lisnaweary Quilts for Riley Blake […]

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