Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to. That’s when I feature them on the blog. This is one of those days. Today I’m tackling only one question.
“Hi Jo, Wonderful quilts, love seeing the finishes. I have a question for you. You use sheets a lot for backings. Love that idea but wonder do you worry about pilling? What is your criteria when purchasing sheets for backing. I love following your blog and your videos are so helpful. They give me quilting courage. Ha ha”
Diane asked this question after I showed my True Blue quilt and said I used a sheet on the backing.
This is the backing…
This is the sheet portion.
I saw this sheet at Goodwill. It’s a used sheet. I paid $2 for it. It didn’t bother me a drop to use it.
Using sheets is sometimes a hot-button topic for some quilters. Some use them all the time. Others would NEVER use them. Others might use them but their longarmer doesn’t like them.
I have my own longarm. I do most of my own quilts. I use sheets.
I use 100% cotton sheets. I would be more likely to use a previously used sheet vs a brand-new sheet. A used sheet has been washed. I can see how it is after it’s washed. I can see how the sheet did or didn’t soften up. I can see how it pills or doesn’t pill.
Admittedly some sheets have such a high thread count that they don’t do well with a long arm. Admittedly some sheets are cheap and likely won’t wear the best. So I feel everything. I touch everything and make a decision from that. If it feels like quality quilting fabric, I use it.
If you talk to anyone who owns a fabric store…if you talk to anyone who is VERY into “quality quilt shop fabric”, they are going to tell you to never buy a sheet. A quilt shop owner wants to sell you backing fabric. Anyone who is overly into “quality quilt shop fabric” probably has the money to buy backing fabric.
I think whenever someone gives their opinion we need to consider the person’s perspective. Do they own a quilt shop? Are they making utility quilts? Are they making quilts to enjoy the process over the finished product? Are they quilting on budget? Do they have an unlimited budget?
If you’re me in northeast Iowa who loves quilting and wants to make it affordable, isn’t selling fabric, has my own longarm, loves thrifting, and isn’t trying to make heirloom quilts that are going to be judged at a quilt show, sheets are an awesome option.
Check out the picture below. See the quilt way on the left? It’s my Criss Cross Applesauce quilt. It has been used and used and used. Its use has all been rough. It’s the quilt for blanket houses. It’s the picnic and play quilt on the lawn. It has covered plants protecting them from frost. It is the television blanket that has been used by EVERYONE. It’s the quilt that gets washed the most in this house.
That quilt is nine years old. NINE YEARS ago I made this quilt from thrifted 100% cotton shirts. You can see back then my dog was Ruby and my daughter Kalissa who just gave birth to her third little boy was in high school and working as a CNA. We were living in the old farmhouse.
To this day, my adult kids will still fight over this quilt. When I die, I don’t doubt that this quilt will be the one the kids want most.
Check out the backing. It’s a sheet!! Not only is it a sheet but it’s a sheet that was bought used from the thrift store. If that isn’t a testament that sheets can be used, I don’t know what is.
Here’s another quilt I used a sheet on. Georgie’s preschool quilt. You can read more about it HERE.
I’ve actually used sheets more often than I’ve mentioned on the blog. Years ago when I used a sheet for a backing and wrote about it, I got a nasty comment from a blog reader. After that, I would still use them but wouldn’t write specifically that it was a sheet. I didn’t want to get any other nasty comments. I’m tougher nowadays and don’t care if I publicly say I use sheets.
I’m doing what works for me after I’ve tested it and been happy with the results.
You are completely and totally welcome to make your own decisions on sheets for backing a quilt or not. For me…in my circumstance and with my personal experience. I say YES. Use a sheet.
I buy them whenever I see 100% cotton sheets at the thrift store. I hoard them. That way I am more likely to have one that looks good with the top when I finish a quilt. I likely have 12 here. When I get too many, I pass them to the Cresco Ladies as they use them as well.
Feel the sheet. See if it feels like quality quilt fabric. If it does, it will likely be a fine backing. You could also try it once on a baby quilt…wash the quilt a bunch and see what you think. You don’t have to start out by putting a sheet on a prized quilt.
So…that’s the long response to using sheets or not. Thanks for asking the question, Diane. It gave me a chance to come clean with you all and let you know I use sheets often.