How to Use Sheets to Back Quilts

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Choose Wisely and Enjoy the Benefits Sheets Have to Offer!

While some quilters have always used sheets for backing, others were taught that sheets are big no-nos. With the right sheets, you’ll have backings that wear well, you can skip piecing backs and save a good amount of money in the process (an inexpensive flat king-sized sheet can back more than one quilt!). Plus, sheets come in many lovely colors and patterns.

What constitutes the “right” sheets? Stick to those with lower thread counts (around 200 if possible), which are usually quite inexpensive. Sheets with higher thread counts can be difficult to sew through and machine needles may cut threads rather than stitch between them. That may be why sheets are often looked upon with disfavor for quilt backings.

How to Use Sheets to Back Quilts

Note:  If you use a longarmer, check with them before selecting a sheet for the backing for your quilt. Many will not work with sheets.

If you’ll be doing the quilting yourself, give a sheet a try on a baby or charity quilt and see how it works for you before moving on to larger quilts.

Vintage 100% cotton sheets in good condition are soft and wear well. Newer cotton and even cotton/poly blends also work well, provided they have low thread counts and are actually woven (instead of knit, for example).

Flannel sheets make wonderfully cozy quilts when used as backing. Since flannel is typically a looser weave you generally don’t need to be concerned about thread count.

How to Use Sheets to Back Quilts

However, flannel sheets can pill (and shrink), as can inexpensive cotton and cotton/poly sheets. Therefore, wash sheets a time or two before using them for backing and discard them if pilling occurs.

Cheryl from Meadow Mist Designs has written a great article about using sheets for backings. Skim through the comments section for more great tips.

Click here for the “Flat Sheets as Quilt Backings” article.

A second article on Quilty Love covers using flannel sheets for backing. The comments section offers additional insights.

Click here for the “Save money quilting – Flannel Sheets as quilt backings” article.

A pattern for the quilt at the top of the page can be found here.


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