Matching Fabric Patterns on Quilt Backing Tutorial

We quilters probably can agree that one of the easiest steps in quilting is piecing the back. I usually wait until the top is finished, making it feel so simple and quick! There are times, though, when you have your heart set on a patterned fabric where matching the print along the seam (or not) can make a difference. Overall, it’s not imperative that you do match it, but it does look neater and seamless without taking too much additional time. Here’s how I did my last backing along with the great results I got with just a little extra effort.

First, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to run your seam horizontal or vertical, which usually depends on the fabric print. When I chose this flag fabric, I knew it wouldn’t look right horizontal, so I ordered enough to allow for a vertical seam that would run the entire length of the quilt (doing it this way usually means you have to buy a bit more fabric).


NOTE: Remember to always include a few extra inches all the way around to allow for shifting when quilting.

Since I was going with a vertical seam, I determined that lining up the end of the starred section of the flags would make the seam look less conspicuous and be fairly easy. So, from the end of the starred flag section in the pattern, I cut away ½” for the seam allowance on the right edge of the left-hand width of fabric (WOF) piece.

Then I matched the pattern along the top by laying out my right-hand WOF piece and placing the left-hand WOF piece on top (right sides together). Because this fabric has relatively small flags that repeat in closely set rows, I barely had any waste as I matched them as close to the top as possible.

Next, with my left-hand WOF piece still in place, I lined up the starred ends of the flags and pinned. Then, I cut the bottom piece edge the same as the top piece edge (for a ½” seam allowance).



NOTE: I flipped back the top piece to make sure it would line up before cutting and sewing.

I don’t have a photo of it, but both WOF pieces are now cut with a ½” seam allowance and are pinned right sides together all the way down.

Lastly, I sewed the length of the fabric, pressed the seam open and ended up with a nice match up!


Because this quilt is quite large and I’d rather not quilt it on my domestic machine, I’m having it quilted by my longarmer—which I don’t do often and I’m pretty excited about!


And of course, before taking any quilt top to get quilted or quilting it yourself, remember to always cut off all the threads on the quilt top back. Yes, this is the worst quilting task ever, but it makes it looks so nice with no unsightly threads to be seen!

I’ll definitely post more photos of this Stars & Four Patches quilt once it’s finished!


Choosing a Quilting Design

Once I finish a quilt top it’s time to decide on a quilting design, and that can be a tough decision. I figured if it’s an issue for me, maybe it’s an issue for other quilters, too. Since actual ‘quilting’ is not my strong suit, I came up with this easy tip to help in the decision making process.

Often times when I finish piecing a quilt top, I’m unsure of how I want to quilt it. To experiment with a variety of quilting designs, I lay out cut lengths of inexpensive contrasting thread and string them on the quilt top in a chosen design. It’s a great way to test ideas because it allows me to see it what my quilt will look like when it’s finished.

I’m happy to note that this quilting tip was featured in the June edition of American Patchwork & Quilting under tips from readers (page 8).


I came up with this idea a while after I began quilting as I really wanted to learn (and hopefully become very good at) free motion quilting. After seeing beautifully quilted quilts and projects, I thought for sure it was something I wanted to master…who wouldn’t?!? But after a lot of practice, effort and frustration, I realized I wasn’t very good at it and I really didn’t want to take the time to learn it after all, so I left that dream behind. Throughout my trial and error, I definitely learned to appreciate what a great skill it is to acquire, and how difficult it must be, but I’ve also decided to leave it to the experts!

As far as my quilts go to date, I usually quilt straight lines and I’ve grown to love the simplicity of it…and I always do some ‘thread painting’ to test my ideas first!