Backing and batting for your hexie quilt

How are you going with your Hexie quilt? I have finally finished my quilt top (yay!) and of course I absolutely love it! I hope everyone has been enjoying the process of stitching their hexies just as much as I have.

Recently I shared a video on how to finish your edges – if you missed it, or any of the hexie video tutorials, you can find them all here. Once you’ve squared up your edges, it’s time to think about your batting, and what backing fabric you’re going to use – so let’s have a chat about it!

BATTING

The batting I like to use in my quilts is called Quiltlite – it’s a very soft, drapey batting, not stiff at all. You can see how beautifully it drapes here in one of my older hexagon quilts.

What I love about this batting is it really settles into your body when you’re snuggling into your quilt. Sometimes quilts can be quite stiff and stand away from your body, but not with this! Quiltlite is surprisingly warm, but light enough that you can layer up your quilts based on the season. So in summer I literally sleep under one of these, but in winter I can use two or three, and a spare one for the husband if he’s lucky. Because let’s face it – there’s nothing better than getting in to bed and snuggling under a soft pile of quilts!

Quiltlite is a woven product – it’s 150cm wide and is a hundred percent cotton. Because it is woven,\ when you’re quilting your quilt, you don’t have to quilt it an inch apart or two inches apart. At times I have left gaps as wide as the span of my hand between areas of stitching, and it doesn’t fall apart or come undone in any way – it just really holds its shape beautifully. This adds to the softness and drape of the quilt, as I have found that the more quilting and stitching you add, the stiffer a quilt can become.

It’s important to note that Quiltlite is only made in a natural cream, rather than a white. When you put your Liberty fabrics over a cream batting, it softens the white in the prints down, and can give you an almost an antiquey, very gentle look, which I love. I adore how the cream seems to softensall of the colours very slightly. This is something to consider when picking batting for your Liberty hexagon quilt – you may prefer to put Liberty fabric onto a white batting, which will make your whites whiter and your colours will seem stronger.

If you would prefer a starker white batting behind your quilt top we do stock the Quilters Dream Request Batting in queen or double size, which is available in white. This is also a very soft, lightweight 100% cotton batting – it is slightly thicker than the Quiltlite but still very beautiful to work with.

JOINING QUILTLITE

Most quilts will require multiple lengths of batting because they are wider than the 150cm WOF. When I lay up my quilts, I lay down my quilt backing then lay the lengths of Quiltlite on top. Where the pieces meet I just overlap them about an inch over each other and run a long tacking stitch to join them. You will notice the layers want to stick together, behaving almost like felt – so a big tacking stitch is adequate.

CHOOSING YOUR BACKING

If you have gone to the effort of making a beautiful Liberty quilt, you should try to do it justice and back it with more Liberty. In my opinion, this is the part that touches your skin so you really want to feel that Liberty softness!

I love Liberty fabric so much and it’s not that often that we get to use the really large scale designs in quilting – for this reason I will often pick a large scale design to put aside and use as a backing for my quilts. I see them and fall in love with them and I really want to use them – and what better way than on the back of your quilt? I love that if I want a change in my bedroom or in the lounge room or wherever I can just flip my quilt over to reveal another fabulous Liberty design!

At the moment I am tossing up between two quite different Liberty prints…

Lockwood A on the left is nice and dark and moody – you may have noticed that I love dark rich, intense colours – it’s just magnificent! Or shall I go with Prospect Road X (right), which is one of our bespoke fabrics – very bold and fabulous, it’s definitely a statement piece all on it’s own!

Which one do you think I should go with? Let me know in the comments.

CALCULATING BATTING & BACKING REQUIREMENTS

Both batting and backing fabric require an overhang of approx 15cm on each side of your quilt top. To work out how much to order:

  1. Calculate how many fabric widths you will require to fit across the width of your quilt.
  2. Then multiply the number of widths by the length of your quilt to calculate how many metres will be required.

To help with your calculations, please note:
+ Quiltlite Batting is 150cm wide
+ Liberty Tana Lawn is 133cm wide

EXAMPLE

If your quilt top is 140cm x 210cm, first add the overhang to calculate the dimensions for your batting and back, ie you will want your batting and backing to be 170cm x 240cm.

CALCULATE BATTING – Quiltlite batting is 150cm wide, so to create your 170cm x 240cm panel, you will need two widths of batting, each 170cm long = 2 x 1.7m = 3.4m in total. The join will run horizontally across the width of your quilt.

CALCULATE BACKING FABRIC – For your backing fabric you need to decide if you would like the join to run across the width of your quilt or along the length of your quilt (this can also be influenced based on the fabric being directional)

The fabric requirements to create your 170cm x 240cm panel will depend on if you want your join to be horizontal or vertical. This is based Liberty Fabric WOF (width of fabric) being 133cm

FOR A HORIZONTAL JOIN…

With a horizontal join, you will need two widths of fabric, each 170cm long = 2 x 1.7m = 3.4m

FOR A VERTICAL JOIN…

With a vertical join, you will need two widths of fabric, each 240cm long = 2 x 240cm = 4.8m.

Note that you can also position the fabric to have the join in the centre or to have a single panel running through the centre with a strip either side – up to you!!

LAYING UP YOUR QUILT

Once you have your quilt top, your batting and your backing ready, you will need to lay up your quilt – essentially this involves tacking the three layers together so they will stay in place during the quilting process.

When I was younger, I would put my backing fabric face down on the floor and I would stretch it out, almost like a canvas – then tape the corners, then the sides. Then I would lay my batting on and smooth it all out, then I would lay my quilt top on and smooth it all out again.

Next I would pin from the centre, going out in a radius. Then I would tack it while it was on the floor. Then remove the pins and it was ready for quilting!

That’s the way I used to do it, but now my knees are too old to be crawling around on the floor! Now I will take my quilt top, my batting and my backing to my local long-armer. She lays it up and tacks it for me – I think it’s money really well spent! Then it just comes back to me and I have the pleasure of hand quilting it – which is the part that I really love!

So, hopefully this explains everything you need to know about batting and backing!! Please keep sharing your photos on instagram with the hashtags #libertyhexiesewalong #libertyhexieclub & #thestrawberrythief – and tag us @The_Strawberry_Thief – we LOVE seeing your projects!!

If you have any questions or if there’s anything I’ve forgotten please message me over at instagram or send me an email hello@thestrawberrythief.com.au!

xx Robyn

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