Week in Review 2020 – 08/07

Front/Top section of Turbulence. It measures 40″ H x 25″ W

It’s playtime. Hurrah! I can’t begin to describe what fun I have creating the backsides of my quilts. This is a relatively new phenomenon for me. For the first 30 years my backs were, for the most part, whole cloth. Any piecing was out of necessity because I needed a back the size of the top and much of my work is wider than the standard 44″ wide bolts of fabric available in the US. Since my work hangs on the wall, like a painting, why should I care what that back looks like? Can you imagine someone asking to see the back of a painting?

Partially pieced back for Turbulence. Note the Storm at Sea block. The block measures 20″ square. The side borders expand the width to 30″. This is 5″ wider than the top. Backs are always larger than tops for ease of quilting. The excess will be trimmed once the quilting is complete.

Perhaps it was our second move in less than a decade that jolted me into a paradigm shift from whole cloth backs to pieced backs. When you have a studio, with all the equipment, fabric, tools and embellishments gathered over three decades, that is quite a bit to pack and unpack. It got me thinking, along with the recycle and repurpose movement, how I could put a dent in studio contents. There is going to come a time when my studio contents won’t be moved, but will be dismantled and dispersed. Anything I can do now to diminish that task for my future self or loved ones is plus.

This diamond shape is made from the scraps leftover from making the front. I layered, from back to front, tulle, fusible web, scraps and tulle. Once layered, I heat set the scraps in place and then further secured them with a simple free motion stippling. Finally, I cut out the four diamonds.

How does my piecing of backs make a difference? Simple. It is a fabulous way to use the left over fabric scraps and strips from making the front of the quilt. It has the added bonus of being more playful, less fussy and serious, than the work required to make the front. What I love about using scraps from the front on the back, is the back’s palette automatically mirrors the front.

I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


    1. Yes, it is more work than I would have put in years ago. However, with 32 years of piecing under my belt, something like this comes together rapidly. The back will take a tenth of the time it took me to piece the front. Plus, I get the self satisfaction of not having to toss, store or decide what to toss or store when it comes time clean up the studio for the next project. All those bits and pieces are already taken care of. Doubt I’ll set a trend, but it works for me.

  1. You mean you have fabric left over from the front? I had to laugh as I am usually left with almost nothing, and often have to find sort of alike fabric to finish the front when I run out. I do piece my backs to use what fabric I already have, but nothing as elaborate as you do.

    1. One of my quilting mantras is why use one blue when fifty will do. When you use that many different fabrics in a quilt, if you run out of one, or ten or more, there is always another that will blend in for that final section. My stash is actually relatively small, BUT it is judiciously stocked with all hues and most values within the hues. When I buy fabric these days it is less impulse and more to replenish that must have pale blue or pop of bright yellow. Quite different from the early years when I bought fabric for a particular project. Had to learn to overbuy. One mistake and I would be shy a crucial fabric.

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