Tips for Dyeing Quilt Backing

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Have you ever considered dyeing your own quilt backing? Sometimes I really hate cutting up my dyed fabrics because they look so amazing all on their own, so using them for a backing is a great way to use them full-sized!

I mean, just check out this gorgeous ice dyed backing I used for a baby quilt!

When you’re dying a backing for a smaller quilt or using the larger backing sized fabric there’s really not much you need to consider before diving in – just make sure you use enough dye for whatever size you’re doing!

But what if you want to dye a larger back when you don’t have extra wide backing fabric on hand? No worries! With a few simple tips you can have a seamless looking backing and no one will know the difference!

Make sure you cut extra to account for shrinkage during the dying process. I had to re-dye the backing for my Dazzling Dream quilt four times because I baby-brained it up and messed it up in new and exciting ways each time. First I didn’t use enough dye to make it as dark as I wanted. Then twice didn’t leave enough extra for all the shrinkage that happens when you dye.

How did I manage to do this twice, you might ask? Well, I’ve been so sleep deprived lately (teething babies are the worst!) that I thought I just mismeasured. So when I cut the second one I was super careful to measure “correctly”. The fabric I have claims it shrinks approximately 5%, however in practice I’ve found it to be closer to 8%. I knew this, yet I totally calculated at the 5%, so when all was said and done I ended up 1 measly inch short from shrinkage.

After having dyed and failed three times I completely went through the stages of grief about my backing being wrong. Again.

Denial. I know I cut enough fabric. It can’t be short!

Anger. Ugh! Why are you too short! What’s wrong with you!

Bargaining. Maybe if I just measure it again that extra inch will show up. Or what if I stretch it a little? Maybe the longarmer won’t care?

Depression. I really don’t want to re-dye. I’m just gonna sit on the couch and eat cookies. (They were delicious by the way. My kids have gotten really good at baking peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.)

Acceptance. I guess I really just need to bite the bullet and get this over with.

So save yourself some trouble and cut more than you think you need. Better to have some scraps for quilting than a too-small backing!

Use cotton thread to piece your backing. Synthetic thread will stay white. Cotton thread will dye along with your fabric allowing it to blend in.

Use an extra-large seam allowance. Generally the seams on the backing should be ½” but because you’ll get some unraveling during the washing process I like to use 1″ to 1½” seam allowances. You can always trim it down if you feel it’s too large later.

Backstitch at the beginning and the end. Machine washing isn’t gentle and you don’t want your seams to come apart.

Iron the seam flat before dyeing. If you leave it alone you’ll have an obvious fold – and maybe that’s okay if you’re planning on folding anyway – but if you iron the seam before crumpling it up and dyeing it will hide the seam making it near-invisible.

Can you tell this backing has a seam at first glance?

You don’t need to have extra-wide backing to have that seamless look! You’ll be making gorgeous custom backings in no time with these tips!

Have you dyed any quilt backings yet?

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