Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on February 23rd, 2017

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White Fabric on T-shirt Quilts

I Hate White Fabric

Not because of how it looks, but because of dirt! White fabric should not be used for backing and bindings on a T-shirt quilt. I have used white fabric once on a T-shirt quilt and have vowed never to use it again. I don't have any photographs of T-shirts with white backing and binding because I don't use it!  Below are a number of complications of using white fabric on a T-shirt quilt.

white on the back of a t-shirt quiltIt’s a Translucent Backing

The first issue is that white fabric is see-through – it’s transparent! If you use white fabric for the backing material on a T-shirt quilt, you will be able to see through the batting right to the back of all your blocks. You will be able to see not only the shape of each block, but you will also be able to tell what color each block is.

You wouldn’t wear your clothes inside out on purpose. Being able to see the inside of your T-shirt quilt through the backing material is tantamount to wearing your clothes inside out. You can do better than this!

Batting, Fuzz & Threads

Not only can you see the structure of your quilt through the white fabric, you can also see the batting, fuzz and threads.

  • We use a cotton batting and it’s not snow white. It’s more of an off-white natural cotton color with many color variations within the batting. With a white backing fabric, the batting and its nuances are visible.

  • Fuzz – we are a fuzzy group of quilters because quilters make fuzz. It’s a by-product of the T-shirt quilt making process. We vacuum daily, but we still are fuzzy. And fuzz is trapped between the layers of a quilt. With a white backing, all the fuzz shows up as dark spots.

  • Threads – everywhere I go, people are physically pulling threads off of me. I don’t get embarrassed; I just consider it a workplace nuisance. Threads get trapped between a backing and batting of a quilt. Thus, when you use a white backing, all these little threads look like little worms meandering around under the material.

All these issues are bad enough when we use a light colored backing material, but a white fabric magnifies the problem. No amount of vacuuming and cleaning can keep these from showing through.

baseball jersey quiltIt’s Difficult to Keep Spotless

While we are making the quilt, is it difficult to keep a white backing fabric spotless and clean. Now consider using a T-shirt quilt with white backing material. It’s very difficult. Stains will readily show and the back of the quilt will easily pick up trace amounts of dirt and eventually it will look dingy.

White Binding Material

A T-shirt quilt with a white binding will have all the same issues as a white backing plus an additional woe. The binding is the material that goes around the outside of the quilt. About ¼" of the binding is seen from the top, the side and the back of a quilt. The binding is used to hide the raw edges of the quilt top, batting and backing materials.

The binding on a quilt is the part of the quilt that is handled the most. When you pull the covers up, fold a quilt or hold it up for someone to see, you are touching the binding of the quilt. A binding gets handled over and over.

A white binding might look sharp on your quilt when you first see it, but you need to think about your quilt in terms of generations and not weeks. The white binding will be touched again and again. Oils and dirt from people’s hands will stain the binding.

white on back of a quiltThink of a binding as the collar of a white dress shirt. If coffee is not spilled down the front of the shirt, it’s the collar that will show the dirt first. Remember ring around the collar?

So you see, it’s the dirt that makes using white fabric for the backing and binding of a T-shirt quilt unacceptable. If you had requested white fabric, you might be reading this as part of my campaign to change your mind about using white fabric. It’s a no-no in my book.


To learn more about having a quilt made from your T-shirts, consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyers Guide.
It's a great place to begin learning about T-shirt quilts. 
T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

White backing fabric

About 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. 


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