The Cat NotQuilt: Finishing the Quilt Backing



This post is part of a series about sewing NotQuilts. If you’re unfamiliar with this method, The NotQuilt series begins here. The link below takes you to the Cat Notquilt project.

So we meet again. I’ve been sick and that has delayed finishing the quilt backing. I sewed on the Pennsylvania Dutch fabric. I searched the stash to find another two yards of fabric that coordinates with all other choices, but there is no fabric with chickens on it. The bird material is all wrong in color or much too small a piece to cover the back. Back to the stash.

cat notquilt

This is the quilt backing we saw in last week’s post.

Eventually, I settled on a busy overall pattern that reads as a reddish orange. The colors look okay with the chickens and the PA Dutch birds and, as a bonus, I have a lot of this material. I will use it to cover all the remaining parts of the cat comforter, other than where the chickens will go.

I start sewing strips down to cover the gap between the appliqué and the PA Dutch panels. Each strip is roughly measured to fit and then I iron down a 3/8-inch or so seam margin on all the exposed edges. If I know that I’m going to sew on another strip over a raw edge, I won’t iron it under. That’s extra work, extra bulk, and it’s not needed.

I also sewed a border at the top using the busy reddish orange fabric, following Dear Daughter’s suggestion to center the chicken panel.

This brings us to the current problem. The chicken panel is sized to fit nicely between the appliqué panels but not the PA Dutch panels. There will be a wide, bare strip running the length of the comforter on each side between the chicken panel and the PA Dutch panels. There is also the bare section at the bottom.

I went back and forth and finally decided to sew down two long strips parallel to the PA Dutch panels, covering their raw edges and extending down from the appliqué panels to the bottom of the comforter. These new strips meet the sides of the gap strips sewn between the PA Dutch panels and the appliqué panels. Once these are sewn down, I will lay out the chicken panel and mark where it stops. Then I’ll sew on another section of busy reddish-orange fabric to cover the bottom of the comforter.

This is where the busyness of the reddish orange fabric will work to my advantage. I’ll have a lot of seams where sections meet. It will read as a continuous, planned border unless you look for them.

That will also leave, once the chicken panel is sewn on, no uncovered fabric on the back of the old comforter. Everything will be new fabric, able to withstand many years of wear.


The finished quilt backing.

The finished quilt backing.

This was a lot of trouble to go to for the back of a utility quilt. It would have been faster to just start at the upper left and sewed down fabric panels as I came to them. I’ve done that and it looks sloppy.

As tedious as this exercise has been, the quilt back will look decent and the chicken panels will have some framing elements.

The takeaway here is that buying copious amounts of new fabric makes for easier layout and sewing. That is a plus, I’ll admit. However one of the purposes of the NotQuilt is to use up what we already have, what is already paid for, and what is taking up precious space in the stash. I’m not buying anything to make this NotQuilt, not so much as a spool of thread.

The learning experience here isn’t just in making a NotQuilt. It’s using what is already on hand creatively and effectively. That is what takes time to learn; turning random pieces of fabric into a reasonably attractive quilt backing even though it won’t be seen very often.