Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New agony aunt feature

Today we are starting a new 'Agony aunt' type series of features and we would like YOU to be involved.

For each feature we will show you a query a fellow reader has come to us with and we would like you to help that reader out with your advice and opinion.

Our first query comes from Moira, who says

"This is my fifth ever quilt (2 finished and 3 WIPs). I finished the quilt top (picture #1) and want to quilt it using straight lines along the length of it using white cotton thread. I just can't work out what to do with the back. I'm trying not to run out and buy more fabric (currently my other half gets palpitations when the postie comes!) Colour and colour combinations is where I am least confident so I'm looking for some advice. Would it look with a plain cloth back (teal as in picture #2) with some odd patchwork squares or should I go with a patterned back? If plain cloth, will it look strange with the white quilting lines or should I use a teal bobbin thread?"

So what do you think? are you able to help Moira our with her plea?

Please let us know your thoughts!

And if you have a question or want an opinion on your WIP then send us an email to


  1. For what it's worth:

    The teal would NOT be my choice because:
    - I think the white quilting won't look great
    - It can be really hard to get the tension right when working with different colored threads in the top and bottom of your machine
    - It would be really hard to match up the back and front so the straight line quilting matches up with the pieced backing.

    I'd opt for a patterned backing with some white in it to blend in with your quilting stitches.

    If that means buying more fabric, I say go for it and tell your husband NOTHING!!!

    Hope that helps.

    Andi :-)

  2. Moira -

    I agree that the white thread on the teal may be too stark; I find that lots of pattern helps disguise my less-than-professional efforts! A strippy back looks good with straight-line quilting, especially if your strips run in the opposite direction to the quilted lines or if you choose to quilt diagonal lines.

    p.s. - the trick is to get to the mailbox before he does.


  3. Yes, I think a patterned back would look nice since there is quite a lot of white in the front and it would hide the quilting. On the other hand, if you were to quilt it in someting other than straight lines then a solid back could show off the quilting stitches. You could put in a strip or two of the cute animal fabric or perhaps a pieced square like one of the nine patches from the front. Good luck.


  4. Don't quilt with 2 thread colors, no matter how well you have your tenion set. somewhere or another the thread will pull to the top or bottom. Also, like everyone else, I think on its own the solid teal would be odd with straight line white quilting. But I do think like the previous comment if you add the odd square or two or oddly placed strips of the animal print people will be intrigued by the placement and the white quilting will be not be as stark. You can got out and buy patterned fabric but I really like the idea of teal with some bits of the animal print. However Is your teal prewashed???? You may want to try quilting teal to the white on a scrap......once in a while dark fabrics will pull color through to the top.......happened to a friend with purple. Cyndi

  5. While I don't think the teal would be terrible, it may be better with something patterned. Maybe if you have enough leftover scraps of the patterned square fabric from the front you could piece long blocks of that fabric for the back? Or maybe use some other patterned fabric with a strip of blocks through the middle for interest? Although I don't think it has to be patterned, it would matter how dark the fabric is. If it's a lighter color the white quilting won't be as stark against the back fabric. I agree, I wouldn't use two different colors of thread. Good luck!

    (by the way I like the idea of viewer answered questions!)

  6. I also vote NO on the teal. My first choice would be the animal print for the back with all white quilting thread. If there is not enough of the animal print, then I would try strips of the animal print opposite the white on the front, and strips of white opposite the print on the front. (Strips could be pieced) Does that make sense? I would definitely bind with a coordinating print, i.e. one of the prints from the front.
    Best wishes!

  7. what about a 'coin strip' using the front fabrics and running horizontally across the back with white either side - do it on say a 30/60 split and if you've got non of those fabrics left for the binding use a co ordinating green, not the teal, or if you've got plenty of those fabris left make one long binding strip using all the fabrics

  8. I think that you will be happier with a patterned fabric for the back. Adding some fun squares of other fabrics would add interest. I definitely would NOT use teal in the bobbin and white on the top. The teal thread will show on the top. (Ask me how I know!) Always use similar colored thread for top and bottom when machine quilting to avoid little 'pics" of color among your stitches.

  9. I think a lightly patterned back would be PERFECT for this quilt. The teal, besides showing your (less than perfect?) quilting would also be just too much "blank" for that quilt. If you're worried about cost, I LOVE to use bedsheets from Goodwill. Especially vintage ones.

    Good luck!

  10. I just finished a quilt where I had the same dilemma. What I did was use the white and put a pieced stripe across the middle of the back using the same colors that are on the front.

  11. An email we received from Erica:-

    Have you ever tried sheets from Walmart? The $4. mainstay ones. They are a great alternative and when put next to a kona solid with eyes closed if you feel them you cant telll the difference. Then with just a little block sampling of the cottons used on the quilt top.
    Whatever you choose, I personally think the solid colors don't look odd at all with the quilting lines in the same color, It just adds more interest. If it was me I would probabley stay clear of the teal as I am still learning to not hesitate during the actual quilting process and the hesitation shows ( at least on mine ). I have had good luck with painters tape though.
    Good luck,

  12. An email we received from Joan:-

    Your quilt is lovely.
    I'm not an expert by any means, but I have found that no matter what I put on the back it works out and I end up liking it. If you use the teal w/white thread you will get a nice pattern on the back w/the thread. I also find that if I am indecisive it means that it's not exactly what I imagined and should move on to something else.
    I personally try to have a print on the back b/c it hides mistakes, but I wouldn't hesitate as long as you really like what you're doing.

  13. I usually take all my leftover prints from the front of the quilt and piece them together to make at least part of the back ... if there isn't enough yardage, I might incorporate a bit more bought fabric (or something topical from my stash that goes with). I started doing this 'cause I didn't want to be left with scraps and I was too cheap to buy an entire backing length. :)

    However, I've twice had to mend the front of quilts I've made and I have the fabrics I need right on the back (I'd rather have a mend show on the back than the front:) -- this is a minor miracle in my life several years after the completion of my project (to still have the extra fabrics to use for mending:).

    :) Linda

  14. Okay, here is my two cents for what it is worth. I am in consensus with the rest of the group that teal is not the right choice for this quilt.
    I think this was mentioned before but, something that has worked well for me in the past is to piece the back with large pieces of the prints used from the front.
    Good Luck!

  15. Moira - I can't believe this is only your 5th quilt - it's just wonderful..your rows and block corners are all perfectly lined up. Great job!

    I never fuss too much about what goes on the back. I am the only person in my house that ever looks at the back of a quilt anyway. If you like the teal, then go with the teal. The straight white quilting lines could provide a cool design element on it! Plus, no one ever said you can only quilt with one colour on the top...maybe you could switch it up and throw in a few lines of teal thread?

    Other comments are right, trying to use two different thread colours can be tricky and painful, so stick with the same colour for top-thread and bobbin. If the idea of white stripes across all that teal fabric doesn't work for you, can you piece your back out of scraps from the front? Possibly into a large rectangle, and then frame it with borders of the teal if you don't have enough for an entirely scrappy backing. Presto, a reversible quilt!

  16. many thanks to you all for your wonderful comments. You are right about the teal choice. I've ordered some patterened fabric for the back and will incorporate some of your suggestions when it arrives. I'll send FQ a photo of the finished quilt and may actually label this one with mention of you all :)

  17. Well done Moira, looks great, I'm not experienced by any means but I quite liked the teal... another possibility might have been to use a mid teal/blue thread, something that wouldn't show too strongly on the white but would blend into the teal better than stark white quilting.

  18. An email from Debra

    Just wanted to say the teal fabric is not my favorite, would go with the yellow patterned back, or do you have any larger pieces from the front; could also piece those together.
    Fabric Girl

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