Maybe you know 108″ wide fabrics exist but have never used them, because they seem a bit daunting? Let’s take a look at their mechanics now!
So-called wide backs are generally a standard 108″ (ca 274 cm) wide. It’s massive.
In order to fit on a bolt, the fabric is not folded once as on 42-44″ wide bolts (21-22″ bolt height), but twice and then the cardboard of the bolt is taller with the fabric itself about 108/4=27″ tall as well.
The double fold means the fabric twists and turns a bit on the bolt, too, so do not be alarmed if you get a cut of fabric less neat than the usual quilting cotton.
Due to its width, wide-back fabric is more expensive per metre (or yard) than normal-width quilting fabric, but if you calculate the cost per area, it ends up more affordable. You can buy this fabric type for quilt tops as well and save a bit, in other words.
When assebling a large piece for quilt backing to send to a longarm quilter, you must take care to sew weft of one cut parallel to the weft of another cut. And warp parallel to warp respectively. Otherwise longarm quilting can create puckers on the back. However, buying a large piece of 108″ wide fabric for the backing solves this problem immediately.
A third reason to consider wide backs is obviously the time they save. And finally, you may want an aesthetically continuous backing rather than a collage.
So how do you calculate how much of 108″ wide-back fabric is needed?
Let’s start by discussing precuts first. Did you know of these? Windham Fabrics make 108″ quilt-back precuts of 3-yard length. This translates to 3 x 36″ = 108″. Precuts are squares at least theoretically!
Now that we may hear a bell ringing faintly, it’s time to get out of the way the two largest bed-quilt sizes per American standards:
- Queen size:
- Mattress: 60″ x 80″
- Batting: 90″ x 108″
- King size:
- Mattress: 76″ x 80″
- Batting: 120″ x 120″
Evidently 108″ wide backs will not accommodate the king size, but queen size in centimetres is 228,6 cm x 274,32 cm for the batting. Usually it is recommended to use a slightly larger backing compared to the batting, but quilts of this size aren’t easily handled in any way.
Moving on to how much you would need for your own quilt. Is it smaller than a queen size?
Consider the 108″ width of the fabric as the height of the quilt, not width this time.
Warp and weft of quilting cotton behaves approximately the same when quilting on domestic machines. It’s only the tension of a longarm machine that creates a need to be aware of the warp and weft directions in relation to one another.
So if you’re making for example a twin-sized quilt, here are the US measurements:
- Twin size:
- Mattress: 39″ x 75″
- Batting: 72″ x 90″
Going with height 90″ first, there’s 18″ more to work with on the 108″ wide back. Width 72″ means 182,88 cm, to which you could add a few inches.
A full 2 metres, or 200 cm, of wide back is 200/2,54=78,74″, approximately 3″ extra on both sides.
Put simply, if you’re making a twin-size quilt, buy 2 metres of fabric. And any thin strips remaining may create continuous binding, if wide enough.
In The Shop Right Now
We have four wide backs to offer at the moment, two of which are by Robert Kaufman Fabrics and the other two by Marcus Fabrics.
There’s the calmly minimalist Widescreen in colour Pacific by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, which was selected to suit our other fabrics designed by her:
Then we have Warehouse District in colour Jungle by Leslie Tucker Jenison, also for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, in a raw, urban style to fit our other fabrics by her:
For Marcus Fabrics by an unknown designer, possibly Laura Berringer, we have two modern collage types of prints. One leans to light grey colours:
The other has white and ever so slightly beige elements among splashes of colour:
These last two options could work splendidly in scrappy, colourful quilts to mention one example.
Please ask questions and share your thoughts in the comments below! Quilt backs are known but certainly not used by all quilters, so it’s not surprising that there’s lingering hesitation still.