4 Tips to Save Money on Backing Fabric

What's my least favorite fabric to spend money on? It's probably a tie between plain background fabric and backing fabric. Don't get me wrong,  I love a beautiful backing fabric. It's just hard to drop around $50 for fabric that goes on the back of my quilt. What I really want to do with that $50 is spend it on fabric for my next project... think all the fat quarters and the new lines in the stores.

In fact, I would say I am a bit "lazy" about buying backing fabric. By this I mean I know when I will need some, but I won't buy it. I just wait until I absolutely need it to deal with the problem. Several times I have found myself scrambling to find enough fabric for a backing before sending it off to the quilter, or quilting it myself.  Since then I have developed a bit of strategy and plan. Here are a couple tips for keeping a little more cash in your pocket when buying backing fabric.

Here are some of my clearance backing purchases.

Buy fabric on clearance

This is perhaps the most obvious way to save money on backing fabric. If I am placing an order for some fabric at an online store I usually go into the clearance section and see if there is any fabric I like on clearance. This is a great way to stock up and (if you spend enough) get free shipping on the order.
Holiday sales are also great times to buy those large backing pieces, think Black Friday, end of the year sales, anniversary sales. Make sure to subscribe to your favorite online and brick and mortar store newsletters so you can keep up to date on all their sales.

Go solid

Every quilter knows that solid fabrics are by far cheaper than those beautiful designer fabrics. I prefer to use a floral/patterned fabric on the back of my quilts, but sometimes the budget just isn't there to buy all the fabric my heart desires. That's where solids come in. Not only are solids high quality fabrics, but you don't have to worry about matching up those patterns when piecing the backing. Confession: I don't worry about matching them anyway.

Just to compare, I looked up on the Fat Quarter Shop the difference in price between Moda fabrics and their solid line, Bella Solids. This is an average price comparison:

  • Moda Fabric price per yard $10.98 (which is a good price)
  • Bella Solid price per yard $7.48 (also great price)

This turns out to be a difference of $3.50/yard. If you buy 4 yards of backing fabric that is a savings of $14! Some manufacturers sell solids in the $6.50 to $7 price point which means big savings for you!

This quilt has solid backing. The front was so busy that I thought the back could be toned down a bit. Plus, I hadn't planned ahead for the backing so went to the local shop and bought an affordable solid.

Get scrappy

I know, after piecing a quilt top not many of us want to turn around and piece a quilt back. But sometimes a girl has to save money. I have many quilts with pieced backings so let's go through them and why each is backed this way.

The backing above was made using left over pieces of backing from previous quilts. It was easy to piece as I just cut them all in long strips and fit them together as I went along. So this backing cost me $0 and I think it adds some extra character to the quilt. Below you can see the front of the quilt. This is my pattern The Rebekah. It actually goes quite well with the front.


The next quilt I had backing fabric but had enough for a throw and was making a twin size. I didn't want to buy a whole new batch of fabric for a twin size quilt. So I measured the backing fabric I had and figured out how many inches I needed to make up. Then, I dug through my scraps and found enough scraps to make up the difference.

 Above you can see I had some fabric already cut different sizes. So I tried to just improvise and I love how it turned out. It actually turned out as one large panel. I then cut it into two panels and offset them.

Below is another example of using part of a large piece of fabric and then piecing the rest of the inches. I don't mind the broken up look of this quilt back, although some people may not like it. I could have spread out the piecing more, but chose to do it like this.

My last example of piecing a backing was more of a mistake. LOL! When I was working on my Mismatched Stars and Stripes pattern for the first time I made way too many stars. And because I had spent all that time making all those stars there was no way I was going to waste them. So I decided to use the stars and scraps of fabric from the quilt top as part of the backing. Below you can get an idea of the back. It really is a fun, and beautiful backing. Instead of being practical like the other backings this one is almost like another quilt top.

Sheets or duvet covers

I personally have never backed a quilt this way, but have definitely wanted to try. I have seen many other quilters buy high quality cotton sheets or duvet covers on sale and use them to back their quilts. If you buy a package of sheets you get two backings, one from the flat sheet and another by cutting the corners off of the fitted sheet. Another reason to use this method ... no piecing!  Holiday sales or end of season sales is also a good time to look for sheets on the cheap.

No matter the backing, just make sure you love your quilt and don't break the bank. Let me know if you have any more ideas for saving money on backing.

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