Fixing a Short Quilt Back on the Longarm

Have you ever gotten to the bottom of your quilt top on your longarm only to discover you don’t have enough backing fabric? We’ve all been there, with our own projects, or when we are quilting a project for you. There is no need to panic as this is something that can be fixed and we’ll show you how to solve this problem, right on the longarm machine. 

How much bigger should the backing be?

Ideally, each side of your quilt back should be at least 4” larger than your quilt top  For the math, this means you should add 8” to the width and length of your finished quilt size to determine the size of quilt backing that you need. For example, if your finished quilt size is 60” x 70”, then you’ll need a quilt back that is 68” x 78”. Read our blog post about 108″-118″ wide fabrics to learn more about quilt backs! 

Selection of Wide back fabric bolts at Two Chicks Quilting

Why isn’t my backing long enough?

There are several common reasons: the backing was measured wrong, maybe the backing was pre-washed and shrunk, the backing could be pieced together and not long enough.

How do I fix a too-short quilt back?

Start by looking at how much fabric you’re going to need – how much are you short? One inch? More? You’ll need fabric that is as long and as wide as you need. This can feel like putting together a puzzle if you need to piece something! 

Steps to fix a too short quilt back on the longarm machine

Here are the steps Julie takes in the video posted to the Two Chicks Quilting YouTube channel, so you can see it in action: 

  • Flip up the top out of the way so you can see what you’re dealing with. 
  • Stitch a plum line, a straight horizontal line, below where you need it.
  • With that line, you know where to line up your fabric!
  • This fabric goes underneath the frame, right sides together, and pin it up the side, along the stitch line, and on the other side.
  • Don’t forget – more pins will keep everything secure but you do have to remove all those pins as well! 
  • Attach your clamps to add more stability.
  • Stitch another straight line right above the previous stitch line, keeping ½” seam allowance, and taking care to not run over any pins
  • Take your time and remove the pins as you come to them.
  • Double check you’ve removed all the pins after stitching! (This is a really important point!)
  • Cut on the plum line stitch line to get the ½” seam. 
  • Take off the extra pins
  • Now you have plenty of backing to finish the quilt! 
  • Remove the leftover bit of fabric and get ready to attach the new backing so you can continue quilting. 
  • The seam needs to be pressed open!
  • Put the quilt top back over the top and continue on! 

We originally posted the video in our private Facebook group, Longarming Chicks. This is open to Two Chicks Quilting HandiQuilter Customers and Longarm Club members. It’s a space where you’ll get exclusive specials and deals just for you! This group is more intimate than our Friends of Two Chicks Quilting Group and helps us stay connected with you outside the shop. We understand a bigger group or public pages may feel like an intimidating place to post. Your quilting questions and ideas are always welcome!