Matching the design when piecing fabrics for quilt backs

by Judy Tucker

2 Sections of the Lotus Drop fabric have been
sewn together to make a strip long enough for
a quilt back.

My Lotus Pond fabrics made by Cloud 9 Fabrics arrived in the mail yesterday.  They are so beautiful.  I immediately stopped the project I was doing and starting working on the quilt back for my Modern Hexagon quilt. One thing led to another and by the end of the day, I had made backs for 3 quilts.

Detail of hexagon quilt top
with the 3 backing fabrics
Completed backing

I found I needed to match the designs in the fabrics for all three of the quilt backs so thought I would share with you how I did that.

Step One:  To attach two strips together to make a longer piece, make a fold in the piece of fabric that will be added the first section of the fabric.  Use the fold line to exactly match the designs on both pieces of the fabric.

Fabric to be added is folded and placed on top
of the 1st section, exactly matching the design

Step 2:   Lay your ruler on the fold so that the 1/4 line of the ruler is along the fold line and the ruler extends beyond the fold 1/4 inch.  Hold the ruler in this position and use it as the line to cut the first section of fabric.

Ruler with 1/4 mark over the fold of the piece being added
and the ruler extending 1/4 inch over
the first section of fabric.

Step 3:  Take the 2nd piece of fabric that you folded in Step 1 and turn it with the wrong side of the fabric facing up.  Open up the fold and mark it with chalk or soluble marker if you have difficulty seeing the fold line.  Place the 1/4 inch inch line of the ruler on the fold line.  (I drew blue chalk line on the fold so you can see it in the photograph).  The edge of the ruler extends 1/4 inch above the fold on the side closest to the raw edge of the fabric.  Cut along this line.

Cut 1/4 inch above the fold line on the side
closer to the raw edge of the fabric

Step 4:  Place the two pieces of fabric, right sides together and sew them together with a 1/4 inch seam. Press the seam.  You may find you get a better match if you press the seam in one direction and a less good match if pressed the other direction. Press the seam in the direction that gives the result!

Here is the result:

Here is the same trio of poppies on an uncut section of the original fabric:

It takes a bit of practice to get a great result.  But it so rewarding when the design matches perfectly! 

I recommend that you practice matching designs with a couple pieces of scrap fabric once or twice before you cut into the fabrics for your quilt.  I find I still check and recheck to make sure I have it right before I cut!