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The Construction of a T-shirt Quilt /
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How to Choose Backing and Binding Colors for Your T-shirt Quilt

August 29th, 2022

By Andrea Funk

Three backing and binding color combanations

6 Ways to Choose Your Backing Color for a T-shirt Quilt

1. Choose your favorite color.
2. Choose the backing color from the color of your favorite T-shirt within the quilt.
3. Choose your school colors for your backing colors.
4. Choose a color that will work in the room in which you plan to use the quilt. 
5. Ask us to suggest backing colors.
6. On your order form, tell us to surprise you.

There are 1000's of color combination you could choose for your T-shirt Quilt. How do you pick the best one for your quilt? Here's a place to start.

Click below to jump to a topic, or read from top down. 


What is the backing and binding on a quilt?
Choosing You Backing Color
Color Samples
Choosing a Binding Color For Your T-shirt Quilt

What is the backing and binding on a T-shirt quilt?

First, let's make sure you know what we are talking about. Here is an explanation about what the backing and binding materials are. 

Backing Material

front and back of a T-shirt quilt by Too Cool T-shirt QuiltsThe backing material is the fabric that you see on the back of a quilt. In the photo here, the backing material is blue.

There are many different quality levels a quilter can choose from. Read more about that here.  Hopefully you will have a quilter that will use a high quality fabric. It is this fabric for which you will need to choose a color.

Here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts, we use a solid color fabric so you can see the quilting on the back of the quilt. We love to showcase our quilting.  If you use a print fabric, the quilting will not be seen. 

We also like to use a solid color because it will stay timeless. A print fabric can date a quilt very quickly. And not always in a good way. Read about why we don't like to use print/pattern fabrics.

We have over 300 colors available. So a lot of choices! 

Note: We do not use white on the back of our quilts because it is difficult to keep clean while we work and it is see through.

Quilt Binding

An example of the binding from the back on a T-shirt quilt by Too Cool T-shirt QuiltsThe binding is the fabric that is sewn around the outside of a T-shirt quilt. You see about ½" of the binding from the top, side and back of a quilt.

Bindings are used to cover the raw edges of the quilt top, batting and backing materials. We have over 400 solid-color and print bindings from which to choose.

In the photo here, the dark blue fabric is the binding material. The dark gray in the backing material.

Note: We do not use white for binding because it is difficult to keep clean while we are working with it and it will show all the dirt. White will quickly become grungy.

Here are 10 terms you might want to learn about T-shirt quilts. 


Kona color card fabricFirst Choose Your Backing Color

Begin by first choosing your backing color because this is the largest amount of color in your entire quilt. There are several methods you can use to choose the color for the backing of your T-shirt quilt:

1. Choose Your Favorite Color

Advantage: It’s your favorite color and you know that you will love it.

Disadvantage: Your favorite color may not always directly relate with the colors of your T-shirts.

For example, if your T-shirts are mostly blues, black, gray and white and your favorite color is green. Green might not be the best choice in this situation. A blue backing probably would work best.

2. Choose the Color of Your Favorite T-shirt In the Quilt

This is a sure way to know that your backing material matches at least one shirt in your quilt. You can mark that shirt with a note on blue painter’s tape saying “ backing color”. We will match that color to one of our backing fabric color.

If we don't have a color that is close enough or not at all, we will give you other options based on color and let you make the final choice. 

Advantage: That color is already in the quilt top and you know that it will match.

Disadvantage: If that particular color does not have a perfect match in fabric.

In the photograph here, I matched the teal blue from the graphics for my backing color.

3. Choose Your School Colors

College - Wisconsin  T-shirt quilt by Too Cool T-shirt QuiltAdvantage: If this is a school activity related quilt, the backing color will be in many of the T-shirts. And by default, it will be a perfect choice for your quilt. 

Disadvantage: You might be sick and tired of your school colors.

4. Choose a color that will work in the room in which you plan to use the quilt. 

Advantage: You know that this quilt will look great in this room, right now.

Disadvantage: If you move or remodel, then the quilt may no longer work with the new décor.

5. Ask Us to Suggest Backing Colors

We will look at all your T-shirts to make our suggestions. We will give you a number of options and then you can make the final decision.

backing color of a T-shirt quilt by Too Cool T-shirt QuiltsAdvantage: We have been making T-shirt quilts since 1992 and have a practiced eye in choosing colors.

Disadvantage: You might have a different perception of the color.
For example, if we say that a teal would look good and then when you see the backing in real life you say, “that’s not teal, it blue.” Although if we suggest a color that is not easily understood, we will say something like, “teal like your XYZ T-shirt.”

6. On your order form, tell us to surprise you.

We can do that!
Advantage: We are experienced in choosing backing colors for T-shirt quilts. We do this everyday.

Disadvantage: You might be surprised more than you want.


Planning a T-shirt quilt?
Here are step-by-step directions for ordering your Too Cool T-shirt quilt.

How to Order a T-shirt Quilt

Color Samples

We do not post color choices on our website because of the potential for the color not to read accurate from computer to computer. I think that having the colors on the website would cause more heartache than it would help.

The back of a Too Cool T-shirt QuiltThe back of a Too Cool T-shirt Quilt what_color_2

For example, something that looks blue on my computer monitor could end up looking like a different blue on your monitor.


Orderform1So, you can either tell us the color you would like used or send us a swatch of the color you would like used. A swatch can be anything from a paint chip to a piece of material. Below is a list of some possibilities:

  • Cut a 1" x 1” piece of fabric from one of your T-shirts
  • Scribble on white paper with a color crayon or marker
  • Paint chip
  • A Fabric swatch from some other project  
  • A wallpaper sample – circle or point to the specific color you would like
  • A photo or color swatch from a magazine with the specific color circled
  • A colored piece of paper like construction paper or a sticky note
  • Get creative; it makes it fun for us!

Pantone Color Number or a Computer Hex Code

Hex ColorA Pantone number is a commercially accepted color system where the colors are number in a standard system. Pantone "is the world-renowned authority on color and provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries." We have a list of each Pantone color number and what our closest fabric color would be. 

A Hex code are those digital letter/number combination that indicate a particular color for a computer. The Hex code would be a starting place for us. There are millions of different colors a computer can display and we just have over 300 fabric colors. 


Choosing a Binding Color For Your T-shirt Quilt

backs_and_bindingsNow that you have decided on a backing color, next you need to pick a binding color. Remember, the binding covers the raw edges of your quilt.

The aesthetics of the binding is two fold. First, it provides a thin frame around the entire quilt . Second, it visually links the back of the quilt to the front. The binding can also provide us with cues as to what thread color to use to quilt your quilt.

Do note: we do not use white for binding color because of dirt. The binding is the part of a quilt that is handled most. A white binding will quickly become grungy and not attractive. We also have issues keeping white clean while we work.


Here is the same quilt with two different bindings. You can see what a binding can do for a quilt. The quilt on the right has a black binding that matches the border and backing. The quilt on the left has an orange flame motif binding. Which one do you prefer?

Same quilt different binding

Below are a number of ways to consider what binding color to choose for your T-shirt quilt.

1. Use the same color for the binding that you use on the back of your quilt. 

binding matches backingAdvantage: It’s an easy decision and will look great.

Disadvantage: If the backing color is in many of the T-shirts on the face of the quilt, the backing color might be a shade different than the color of some of your T-shirts and could look off. This is because T-shirt material and cotton fabric do not reflect light the same. If this is the case, it might be better to choose either a contrasting color or a print.

2. School Colors

School colors are a great choice for a graduation Tshirt quiltIf you choose to use your school colors, the backing could be the darker school color and the binding could be the lighter color. For example, if your school colors were green and yellow, the backing could be green and the binding yellow. 

Advantage: This would match the colors in your T-shirts and it would provide an obvious thread color choice. In the example here, the thread color would be yellow. 

But if you go the other way around and use the lighter color for the backing - yellow in this case and the darker color for the binding - royal, we would have issues with the quilting thread. We have learned that dark quilting thread can look awful on the face of your quilt. Especially if you have a lot of lighter colored or white shirts. So dark green would not be a good quilting thread for us to use.

Disadvantage: If one of your school colors is white, we would not use that on the binding. Since we don’t use white for bindings or backing, an alternative color would need to be chosen. Some options are light gray, cream or using the same fabric that is on the back of the quilt.

3. Choose black for the binding. 

Advantage: Black goes with most everything, so your choice would work.

Disadvantage: Black does not give us cues for what color thread to use for the quilting. We will typically choose either a gray thread or a pastel variation of the backing color for the quilting.

4. Use the same color as the backing material, but in a print material. 

binding that is one step away from the backing colorAdvantage: This can help the backing material match the front of the quilt better. A print can also up the customization of your quilt. Prints look great and also give us cues for what color thread to choose. 

Disadvantage: We don’t have a library of prints to show you, and our print selection is always changing. You may not like the print we use. In over 20 years of making T-shirt quilts, we have only had to replace 3 bindings that customers were unhappy with. And if you are unhappy with the binding, we will change it out for you no questions asked.

5. Ask Us to Surprise You

Advantage: We have years of experience in choosing binding colors and do a great job selecting bindings that enhance the look of the quilt top. 
Disadvantage: You maybe more surprised than you wanted to be. But remember we will change out the binding for you if you are unhappy with it.

Although the binding on a quilt is small, when done right, a binding can enhance the look of your quilt. If you need help choosing your binding color, please let us know and we will be happy to help


Put some thought into the backing and binding of your quilt. It is an important part of the overall look of your quilt. If are stuck, we are more than happy to help. 



Want to learn more about T-shirt quilts? Visit our Learning Center.
We have over 200 articles about all aspects of T-shirt quilts.

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Back of black travel quilt by Too Cool T-shirt Quilts

Andrea Funk

Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.