I love, love, love using muslin for the back of a quilt. I know, it’s not on-trend and I’ve even read a bit about a quilter who wasn’t interested in making quilts until she saw one WITHOUT a muslin back. But there are a few reasons why I personally love muslin quilt backing.
First, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to disassociate the art of quilts from the function of quilts. I believe quilts are meant to sleep under. They go on your bed. Quilts are meant to keep you warm. You need to stay warm to survive! Okay, so we can buy comforters and mass-produced blankets and quilts at a variety of brick-and-mortar stores and online sites. I don’t need to make a quilt in order to sleep comfortably. And, yes, I have, and will probably again, make a quilted wall hanging. Maybe I’ll make a quilt I love so much that I won’t want to have it on a bed every day and have it eventually wear down. (Yes, quilts wear down and get holes in them—they’re not invincible if you use them!) But, I will always sleep under a quilt (or two), because I believe in the functionality of quilts and I want my quilts to be beautiful and comfortable. Good muslin fabric is light and soft. It feels fabulous. It’s perfect for sleeping under. There’s a reason you can find muslin swaddle blankets (FOR BABIES)—it’s a soft and comfortable fabric.
Another part of my function reason is the cost of muslin. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other quilting cottons. There’s a sense of economy when making your own quilt for use. I know, I know. Those mass-produced blankets/quilts/comforters are waaaay cheaper than making your own quilt these days. But, for me, there’s a nod to being fiscally efficient when I use muslin backing. If you’re a garment sewer, you may make test garments out of inexpensive muslin. You “make a muslin” before you cut into your really nice and expensive fabric.
My second reason for loving muslin for quilt backs is the aesthetics. A “blank back” provides visual relief from a well designed and pieced front. If a quilt is a piece of art, the viewer’s eye gets a break when they take a look at the back—nothing to see there! Or, maybe the quilting is highlighted by the solid color of the fabric. The focus remains on the front of the quilt. All the meaning can be stitched there, without being confused or misunderstood by another side. In contrast, a patterned or pieced back can add another level of meaning and overall style to a quilt. Muslin backing, like any other fabric, patterned or pieced, is an artistic choice.
I know better than to say “never,” but for now, I’m content on using natural muslin for my quilt backs. And, I love it.
What quilt backing can you just not get enough of?