When we talk about “quilt from the back”, most quilters think of pantographs or groovy boards. Handi Quilter sells the Quilt From the Back Kit for folks interested in quilting with pantographs. Pantographs are printed quilting designs that usually come on rolls. They are placed on the table at the back of the machine and you quilt by following along the pattern line with a laser light attached to the machine. You use the controls on the handlebars at the back. Can you see the little dot of laser light on the pattern in the photo?

HQ Amara with quilt from the back kit

But this post is about quilting from the back – free motion style! This technique draws on all the practice and skills we’ve gained so far in this free motion quilting for beginners series. One of the things we learned was to draw quilting inspiration from the fabrics in the quilt. But what about the backing fabric? What if it has a really cool quilting design? You could make a stencil using Golden Threads paper like in this post. Then mark the designs on the quilt top. But why mark, when you don’t have to?

An Example

I had this cute baby quilt top that needed quilting. This one will go to Quilts for Kids to bless a child in a local hospital.

 

With super cute backing fabric.

I was stumped about what design to quilt. Looking at the backing I thought those flowers would make a good design for this quilt.

So I decided to quilt from the back and use the flowers on the backing fabric as my guide. No mark quilting!

Here’s how I did it:

To quilt the back, the backing fabric needs to be on top. Since the quilt top is smaller than the backing that could be problematic. My solution was to load the quilt as I normally would. With the quilt backing on the bottom, and the quilt top on top, and the batting in between.

Then I basted the top and side (within the throat space). I also basted across the body of the quilt about every 4-5 inches. Using a long 1 inch basting stitch made it easy to remove the basting later. Als0, I chose a contrasting thread to do the basting.

 

I worked my way down, basting the sides and across the quilt. Then across the bottom edge.

Once the quilt was all basted, I cut away the excess batting using my Handi batting scissors. Love these scissors!

 

Then I unpinned from the leaders, flipped it over (so that the backing was facing up) and pinned it back on.

 

Now comes the fun part! I quilted around each flower connecting one to another with a short line of stitching. The basting around the outside edge of the quilt showed me where to quilt. I removed the interior basting little-by-little as I went.

quilting path

Start tracing around the petals:

quilt from the back quilting path

 

Complete all the petals and go into the flower to go around the center with a loop:

 

Travel out between two petals and stitch to the next flower:

 

Repeat!  This stitched really fast.

 

Some of the skills you will utilize with this technique are:

Quilting curves and loops – two of our basic shapes!

Tracing a design – remember those practice fabrics?

Looking ahead – Not only to get nice smooth curves, but also to know where to exit the flower and which flower you will stitch to next and where you will enter that next one.

It’s easy quilting, but you do have to have your brain engaged for all this looking ahead. Remember the secret!

And it’s so fun to unpin from the leaders and turn it over to see what it looks like on top.

 

I think the quilting looks so fun on the same fabric squares on the front. Like echoing.

Give it a try and let us know how it went for you in the comments. BTW this is easier to do on a stationary machine or a domestic machine. All you have to do is flip it over!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil