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Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on January 23rd, 2014

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T-shirt Quilt Backings - Pattern or Solid Color?

Materials Used In T-shirt Quilts  |  Planning a T-shirt Quilt

When should you use a solid color backing material on a T-shirt quilt and when should you choose a print? It typically comes down to how a quilt is quilted and the quality of the quilting. A printed backing material will camouflage and hide quilting where as a solid material will show it off.

When to Use a Printed Backing Material

  • printed backing material for a t-shirt quiltChoose a printed backing material when a T-shirt quilt is hand tied or machine tacked. These methods will each leave just a small 1/4” or less stitch on the back of the quilt. The entire back of the quilt will be speckled with these small stitches. These stitches will get lost in the design of a printed material.
  • Another time to choose a printed backing material is when the quilting is very simple or irregular. This might happen if the quilt is quilted with a home sewing machine. Quilting a large quilt with a home sewing machine is very difficult. The stitches will vary in length and there might be sharp turns and other uneven stitching patterns. A printed backing material will conceal the quilting nicely. 
  • If a T-shirt quilt is long-arm quilted on a quilting machine, only choose a printed backing material is the quilting will be done in a repetitive pattern. A repetitive pattern is when one motif is repeated over and over across the entire quilt. Many T-shirt quilt companies choose to do a repetitive pattern on their T-shirt quilts because it is fast and easy. A printed backing material in this case would hide the monotonous stitching and give you something more interesting to look at.

To learn more about the different types, styles and qualities of T-shirts, download our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. 
It’s a great place to begin your journey to finding a quilt maker.

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide


When to Use a Solid Color Backing Material

The back of a T-shirt quilt with the quilting showing because a solid color was used.

Choose a solid backing material for the back of your quilt if you want to show off the quilting. To make the stitching stand out even more, use a contrasting thread color.

Here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts we only use solid color backing material because we do awesome quilting on our T-shirt quilts. An accomplished artist quilts each of our quilts. We feel it is important that each block of a T-shirt quilt is quilted with it’s own unique design. Each block on a T-shirt quilt tells a unique part of the story, so it get’s it own quilted design.

The design quilted into the quilt from the front, are seen on the back of the quilt. So as a result of our quilting style, the backs of our T-shirt quilts are almost as fun and the front of the quilt.

Quilting on t-shirt quilt

We also spend time tracing various designs on the front of the quilt because they show up on the back of the quilt. For example, look at the two photographs below. In the top photograph you see the horses on the front of the quilt. In the second photograph, you see the horse on the back of the quilt. We traced the horses on the front and the stitching showed up on the back. If we had used a patterned material, you would have been hard pressed to see their outline in on the back. And if this had been your horse T-shirt, you would be thrilled when you saw the back of the quilt showing those horses.

How Do We Know That Printed Backings Hide the Quilting?

We know that printed backings obscure the stitching on the back because we have long-arm quilted other people’s quilts who have chosen a printed fabric. From experience, our quilters know that their work will not show up, so they simplify their quilting designs and don’t spend extra time tracing anything. You just can’t see it.

If you asked to use your own printed fabric on a T-shirt quilt we make for you, but we will do our best to talk you out of using it because your T-shirt quilt would miss out on a quintessential part of a Too Cool T-shirt Quilts – it’s exquisite quilting.

If you are looking to make your own T-shirt quilt, here are the instructions and the tools you need. 

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.