How to add a backing to your in-the-hoop quilt

Once you’ve joined all your blocks together you need to add a backing to cover all the seams and stitching on the reverse of your quilted blocks.

Do you still need to join your blocks? You can find out how to do that here: How to join quilt blocks

A backing adds durability to your quilt, makes it warmer, and also gives you the opportunity for some more decoration!

A quilt back does not have to be plain! Use it to join large leftover pieces, or even recreate one of the blocks in a giant size on the back of your quilt. And this is a great time to add a label too. Here’s a quilt label I made for you, or you can create your own. (The link downloads a .zip file)


Starry night quilt label

This is also the time to think about adding a way to hang your quilt. You can add a sleeve all along one edge, making it easy to run a dowel through, or for smaller quilts you can add hanging corners.

Hanging sleeve

Measure the side you want to add the hanging sleeve.

Cut a strip of fabric the same length, and 1 1/2 inches wide.

Hem both short ends

Turn under 1/4” on both long edges. Pin the sleeve in place close to the top edge of the quilt,  leaving enough space for the binding.

Stitch close to the fold on both long edges.

If you know where your wall hanging hooks are, you can make shorter sleeves with gaps that line up with the hooks.

Hanging corners

Cut a square, fold in half diagonally, and add to the corners when you bind the quilt. It’s easy to slip the ends of a rod under the corners to hang the quilt.

Measure your backing

First of all lay your quilt out face down on a flat surface (a large table, or the floor), and measure its length and width. Add one inch/2.5cm all round to allow for trimming

measuring a quilt for backing

In other words, you’ll need your backing to be the quilt width in inches + 2” x quilt length in inches + 2”.

If you’re using metric it will be: width in cm + 5cm x length in cm + 5cm

Pin the quilt to the backing

Now spread out your backing with the wrong side facing up.

Lay your quilt right side up over the top, so that the extra inch shows all around.

Cut quilt backing larger on all sides

Make sure there are no folds or wrinkles in the quilt top or the backing.

Starting from the centre, use safety pins to secure through all the layers of the quilt. Work from the middle out, smoothing the quilt as you go. Pin in the middle of the block, away from the seams, as you’ll be stitching in the ditch.

Once you’ve pinned over the whole quilt, check the backing fabric is smooth and the whole thing lies flat.

Stitch the whole thing together

Now you need to stitch in the ditch between the blocks to secure the backing to the quilted top.

Make sure you have enough room around your machine. It helps to roll up the quilt and work on one area at a time. Ideally, stitch from the centre outwards. The backing will try to creep as you sew and if you go from the edge towards the centre you’ll probably get a lump of fabric in the centre.

Stitch between the blocks. Slow your machine down and increase the stitch length. It can help to wear gloves so you can spread the seam more easily. You’re aiming to get the machine needle to sew between the blocks, along the seam line that’s already there.How to stitch in the ditch

You want the stitches on the top to be invisible. You could even use invisible thread.

Bear in mind that your stitches on the back will show so choose a thread for the bobbin that blends in or contrasts depending on the effect you want.

As you finish each run of stitching check that the backing is still smooth and even. Adjust the pins if necessary.

Here’s how the back will look. You can see the lines of stitching between the rows of blocks. You can see the safety pins still in place too.

Quilt backing stitched in place

Now you’re ready to finish the edges of your quilt with binding!

Find out how I do that here: Add a binding to your quilt.

You can also download a PDF of this blog post. Quilt backing instructions 

2 thoughts on “How to add a backing to your in-the-hoop quilt

  1. Deb Fadler says:

    Lisa, great tutorials on completing our Starry Night in the Forest quilt. Just noticed the link to the self binder tutorial isn’t working.

    Again, I have
    Loved doing this quilt along bd truly look forward to the next one!!!

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