Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs

First of all I want to acknowledge Canada's National Indigenous Peoples Day by stating that I acknowledge that I live on traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory. This territory belongs to the Anishinabewaki, Attiwonderonk and Myaamia Indigenous peoples.  I live on the north shore of erielhonan, the Iroquoian name for Lake Erie which means 'long tail'. I continue to learn and am always grateful for this beautiful piece of Turtle Island.

Well, Kelly Young of My Quilt Infatuation has done it once again. She has published her third book, and this is one I guarantee you will want to have on your shelf. How many of you have leftover chunks of fabric after the top is complete? Yeah, I thought so: 100% of you. Have you used them right away, or, are they languishing in your stash, or maybe even still together (guilty) because they looked so terrific in that quilt that they could probably make a pillow, or bag or some placemats even... How about it you make them into a pleasing quilt back? Well that is exactly what Kelly's book is all about, 30 yes THIRTY quilt back design ideas. I made two from her book.

Here is the first one on the design wall, the back for one of my three H2H quilts. I did Around the Corner for this one.
All of the strips on the top left, except for the Kaffe Fassett first one, came with the orphan blocks as leftover strip sets.

The largest square in the lower left, a tiny floral VIP fabrics cotton, is a leftover square from some fabrics my aunt gave me when she was starting to destash her plentiful fabric stash from years of dressmaking, crafting and home décor. This is where Kelly has you start building this back. 

So this is another great use for this book: invariably there are chunks left when you piece backs for quilts, so this is a way to put them to good use.

Here is the front of that quilt, Global Garden.

I used a few chunks from the front of the quilt and other fabrics that match the tone of the front fabrics. Was I excited to find a use for that strip of butterfly fabric on the back!

The second back is my third RSC quilt which I’ve named Bright Paws.
Laid out on the design wall with the top underneath!

This back is called Toppling Tower. Kelly uses four coordinating fabrics for hers, but I settled for just two. I had decent yardage left of the blue wide back from another aunt’s quilt, and thought it would pop nicely against the navy Moda fabric which was left over from the front. The front of the quilt seemed to have a fair amount of red in it so I went to my red yardage which is not that plentiful, and right on top was the Riley Blake floral. Pale blue flowers? Perfect! I decided to go with just these two since the front is very busy. 

My strips are 9.5" wide as per the book measurements, but because this is a small throw, I didn't use the 42" WOF. There would have been too much tower and not enough background!

Somehow I ended up with one extra paw block, a surprise to me when I was sewing the paws in the actual bear paw blocks, because I had kept meticulous count of them... clearly not meticulous enough. Rather than languish in the orphan block drawer, I incorporated it into one of the strips. As for the fabrics, all but about a fat quarter of the Riley Blake are gone and boy does that feel good! 

Here is the front of my quilt. 

I don't think I have shown this quilt at all. It was done as a leader/ender project over the past two or more years, trying to use up ‘ugly’ and forlorn fabrics. I fell in love with Yvonne’s quilt (five blocks by five) at Sew Yummy when she was making hers back in 2020. I made mine smaller, three blocks by four, so it could be a donation quilt. The background navy is a Moda fabric that my friend LuEllen and I each got 5 metres of when we found it at Fabricland in St. Albert, Alberta, for an unreal price. This means the fabric is 12+ years old! 😬🙈 I have used it here and there, but used it all up in the making of this  quilt. The quilt will be going to either the Windsor Homeless Shelter or Quilts for Survivors, for those Indigenous Canadians who survived Canada's Residential Schools.

Yvonne did her scrappy bear paw quilt with an all-navy background but after I did the bright centre squares where the four paws come together, I knew I wanted to echo that in the cornerstones. I didn’t allow myself to cut any 2.5” squares—they had to be from the 2.5” tray! A simple large meander over the quilt top meant it was quilted up in no time.
Evening shot on the deck

For mostly ‘ugly’ and forlorn fabric, I am surprised and really pleased with how bright and cheery it is! You can catch a glimpse of how the Toppling Tower complements the front.

I contemplated for a hot minute a rainbow binding because hello, rainbow quilt, but when I looked in my bag of leftover bindings, there were three and a bit strips just sitting there of navy Quilter’s Candy from Connecting Threads, so with the less than a quarter yard left of the Moda cut into strips, and a couple other small navy binding pieces from the bag, I had just enough to go around the quilt! It’s bound by machine. If you look closely you’ll see my satin label and SW initials quilted in to the lower right corner of the quilt. 

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Scrappy Bear Claw by Yvonne of Sew Yummy
Size: 48" x 62.5"
Fabric: scraps and stash
Batting: Fairfield low loft polyester
Backing: scraps and stash
Quilted: on Avril:  39 234 stitches
Threads: pieced with various; quilted with Essential cotton Persian Blue; The Bottom Line in the bobbin. Binding applied and top-stitched with Isacord polyester.

I hope you'll visit Kelly's blog post today at My Quilt Infatuation where you can find the list of several bloggers showing off their quilt backs from the book!

Be sure to check out Kelly's instagram @myquiltinfatuation where she's been posting all week the quilt backs and check out this post to see the 18, yes EIGHTEEN downloadable bonus quilt fronts patterns that you get with the purchase of the book! Here they are:
You read that right: these are included in the purchase of the book as downloadable PDFs. So 30 back designs and 18 front designs, need I say more?

You can get your copy of this book at all the usual places for quilt books: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Connecting Threads, Missouri Star and of course her Etsy shop.

If you'd like to see examples of more beautiful quilt backs from Kelly's book, be sure to visit the bloggers taking part in the grand launch hop:


  1. Two very different backings for your two very different quilts. Both fitting the quilt fronts “ to a tee”! I’m the proud owner of all three of Kelly’s books and I’m looking forward to using her techniques on several of my myriad of flimsies! I had to giggle as I read your post about Bright Paws. When I looked at your Toppling Towers backing, I saw red fabric with white paw prints! (Power of suggestion, I guess). Then you described floral with light blue flowers. I had to stop and enlarge your photo! Yup, cute little flowers on a red background. It pays to read not just link at pictures!

  2. These are great examples from the book Sandra. I think I just might add this one to my stash - I sure could use it.

  3. I love the Toppling Tower backing for your bear paw quilt! Especially sticking the extra bear paw block in on the back. That is a fun addition!

  4. I honestly never cared that much for bear claws till I saw your quilt, and it's beautiful. Thank you for opening my eyes. ;) The back is perfect for your quilt, and I love the little bear claw waving on that row!

  5. I love these two backs (and quilts!) so much! Thank you for helping me with the book launch!

    :) Kelly

  6. Love the backs and the fronts!

  7. I love that Kelly is putting quilt top scraps to such beautiful use for quilt backings. You certainly showcase just how beautifully that can compliment the quilt tops here and using up scraps and fabric? Such a win-win!

  8. Sandra, your quilts are beautiful! I’ve always wanted to make a bear paw quilt and I think your scrappy version and pieced back is amazing. And what a bonus to use all that great stash fabric! I ordered the book from Etsy because pieced backs, that I don’t have to plan, sound like a great way to use what I have. Thanks for sharing your quilts! - Joyfully, Tracie

  9. Both of your quilt backs are great! And they go so well with the fronts! I absolutely LOVE how you refused to 'cut' squares for your cornerstones ... that made me laugh!!!

  10. It looks like a very useful book Sandra - and you've put it to good use already. Both quilts and their backs are lovely, but you're right, I haven't seen the Bears Paw one before and that is deliciously scrummy. And very fitting backs for both....down to the incorporation of the spare block!

  11. Well done & love your scrappy Bear Paw, so good to use up scraps & the backing using all those "big" scraps. I have done pieced bitty backs over the years, but saw the book somewhere on a blog & thought about getting it too. Went & picked up Cheryl Brickey's new book & one by Jemima Flendt, so should have looked then. Thanks for sharing, take care & hugs.

  12. I like pieced backs, but don't always take the time to piece them. After seeing these two I'm going to have to get back to using up those languishing pieces in backs. Both are lovely quilts front and back!

  13. You just can't go wrong with a Bear's Paw quilt, and your scrappy version is very pretty! Love the backing ideas, and that little leftover paw in the backing is so fun!

  14. Oh, how I love that Bear Paw quilt, Sandra... front AND back!!

  15. What fun backs you compliment the fronts of course! I love that you had that extra bear paw to sneak on the back. So perfect. This is a book that will be joining my library this week....I like pieced backs and am really trying to destash with fabric as some more is coming my way from my studio in MA that I don't sew in much these days. Thank you, too, for your land acknowledgment and acknowledging Indigenous Peoples Day.

  16. Pieced backs add so much to quilts! I also love using up my fabrics on the back rather than purchasing backing. It is a win win.