Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fleece as backing

Occasionally, I like to use fleece yardage as backings for my quilts. Fleece is warm all by itself, so I don't need to use a batting at all. (Winters here in California are not sub-zero, so I have no need to make a super-warm quilt.) Fleece yardage is about 60" wide, which means the quilt can be almost that long and I only have to buy yardage to accommodate the width of the quilt. The fleece is so soft, cuddly and the quilt drapes very nicely when its quilted.

I pin my backings and tops to my leaders. It's a method that works well for me. When using fleece for backings, I like to pin the selvage edge to the leaders because there is no stretch along the selvage. The cut/raw edge of the fleece, which is stretchy, is kept taut by my side tensioners.

However, I recently had a situation where it was better to pin the cut/raw, stretchy edge to the leaders. This really isn't a good idea since the cut/raw edge of the fleece is VERY stretchy ... not what you want when attaching it to the leader.

I did figure out a good solution though ... I needed to stabilize that cut edge. Something that wouldn't stretch. Something that I had on hand. Something that I had a lot of. Something that I wouldn't mind sacrificing. And what would that be?? Muslin! :-)

I cut 1-1/2" wide, straight of grain strips of muslin, the full width of fabric, sewing them end to end to get the length I needed. This long strip was ironed in half, lengthwise ... as though I was making binding. The cut/raw edge of the fleece was then inserted into the folded muslin strip to be "bound" by top stitching with a long basting stitch. It didn't need to be pretty; it wasn't part of the quilt. I just needed the woven muslin strip to be attached to the stretchy fleece to prevent the fleece from stretching.

This "bound" edge was then pinned to my leaders. And, by golly, it worked wonderfully!   In the picture to the above, you see the muslin strip pinned to the leader.  The fleece is that teeny-tiny gold strip directly underneath the muslin strip.  The big, blue expanse is the border of the quilt.

If I wanted to .. or was so inclined to do so, I could remove all the basting stitches so I could re-use the muslin on the next fleece that needed it. On the other hand, the quilt needs to be squared up anyway and that edge will be waste .. so I could just toss it. Yes, I could be just that lazy. :-)


  1. thank you Shelley. That is a very handy tip. I can see some expansion uses for this technique (stretchy bias borders maybe?)

    With the possible loos of your wonderful Yahoo group, I have added your blog to my favs.


  2. Hiya, Cynthia. Your idea of using straight of grain strips on the bias is exactly right.

    When I have a *top* that has stretchy edges or a lot of seams that end on the raw edge (these will tend to pull apart when loaded on a longarm), I will do a line of stay-stitching with very small stitches (2.2 on my Janome) inside the 1/4 seam allowance. The straight stitches stabilize the edge of the top and help prevent the edges from stretching.

    Furthermore, since they are inside the seam allowance, they will be covered up by the binding ... no need to remove them .. always a bonus. :-)