Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Flat Sheets as Quilt Backings


When I began quilting, I found myself pondering alternative quilt backings because

(1) I really dislike piecing quilt backs and
(2) backings can get quite costly, especially for larger backings.

I asked some more experienced quilters about using flat sheets as a quilt backing and I was strongly discouraged.  I was told that sheets are too tight a weave, they will cause all sorts of issues like skipped stitches and basically wreak my project.

As a scientist, I need to experiment and try for myself.  I bought a twin flat sheet from Target for about $9 and used it on the backing of a charity quilt.  It worked great for me!  The door to flat sheets as quilt backings was open!


I have had success on both of my home sewing machines (1990's Singer and a 710 Bernina) on over a dozen quilts using sheets as backings.  I typically use Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread for quilting and an 80/12 or 90/14 needle.  Just a note, longarm machines are entirely different beasts and I have heard that sheets do not work out so well on them.

Here are some of my learnings:
  • Try to find the cheaper, lower thread count sheets.  The cheap 100% cotton sheets at Target (Threshold Brand shown above) are available as just flat sheets (so you don't have to buy the whole set) and work really well.  The really high tread count sheets like 500 or 600 count have a tighter weave which makes it more difficult for the needle to pierce. 
  • Avoid the wrinkle-free sheets.  I once used a wrinkle-free sheet from Wamsutta and I think that the sheet or yarns had coating on them which made the needle have a super difficult time punching through the sheet (and the needle seemed to make really big holes in the sheet).  The quilt wound up being really stiff too. 
  • While I usually only use 100% cotton sheets, one time I found a sheet that was the perfect match to some fabric I was making the Scrappy Tiles quilt top with.  It was not until I was done quilting with it that I realized it was actually a cotton/polyester blend.  It worked perfectly and has held up well in washing.

  • I always wash and dry my sheets before using them prevent bleeding and shrinking (I do not wash my batting or my fabrics in the quilt top).
  • I have used regular sheets, brushed cotton sheets, and flannel sheets, all with success. 
  • Some of the best times to shop for sheets are right after the school year starts (all of the back to school and college sheets are on sale) and right after Christmas (the flannels are on sale).

My most recent finish was a twin sized version of Looking Glass and I used a Threshold full size flat sheet.  It was their brushed Ultra Soft 300 count, 100% cotton in the Elephant color.  An 85" x 96" sheet (so no piecing of the backing) for only $12, not too shabby!


If you are thinking about trying a sheet as a quilt backing, I suggest going for it!  (Probably not on your wedding present quilt you have spend the better part of a year on... but maybe a little baby quilt or a charity quilt).  You will never know if it will work for you unless you try it :)

How about you, have you used sheets as quilt backings?  Was it a success or a failure?  Any tips you would like to share?

I am linking up with Let's Bee Social at Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts and Needle and Thread Thursday at Kelly @My Quilt Infatuation.






150 comments:

  1. That's very interesting and helpful to know. I would like to know how you make your quilt 'sandwich'. Do you spray or pin or hand baste?

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    1. I spray most baste most of the time but have both spray and pin basted with sheet backings with no problems.

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  2. I have used sheets to great success - even on my long arm! I do recommend nothing higher than 300 count, though. In fact, one of my best selling baby quilt items from my Etsy store is simply using 2 crib sheets to make a coordinating quilt based on a registry. :)

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    1. I make a lot of baby quilts, this is a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing.

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    2. Thank you Yvonne for exploring this for a Long Arm. I would like to experiment with it, since you've had success. I've always heard sheets were taboo either way for quilt backs or otherwise. Good to know there's this affordable option.

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  3. Good to know. Thank you for sharing this useful other option with us.

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  4. I have used sheets to back pillow covers, reasoning that who cares what is inside the case, with no trouble. I bought two at the thrift store for $2 each and I haven't used them up yet...

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  5. I'm so glad you wrote this, I always use flat sheets for quilt backs and never ever thought there was any controversy (except perhaps from the purists who would never use anything except pure designer cotton at $30 per metre here in Canada) I'm a big believer in using what's easiest and have never had a problem at all. I've even hand quilted more than 20 lap quilts with WalMart sheets.

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    1. So happy to read this post. The only thing I have used on all my queen size quilts are flat king size sheets.... Usually a 60/40 cotton/polyester blend. Never have a problem with quilting them on my domestic machine and no thread breakage or anything other problem. I have read and learned everything I know from quilting groups on the internet and most of them would never use a sheet. I couldn't afford anything else....lol. So happy with my quilts and some of them I have used for 25 years!!!!

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  6. I am a long armer and use sheets when I can as well. I love flat sheets from Ikea. I hat piecing backings!

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  7. I use those sheets from Target all the time, they're soft and work great, I even dye them if I need a brighter color for a backing. I'm so glad you wrote this :)

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  8. Thanks for writing this Cheryl! I have a stack of sheets I bought at one of Macy's special sales. One is a nice 600 count sheet I was planning to use when I repair and requilt my very first quilt that was on our bed for years. Now I'm thinking I'll have to rethink that plan!

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  9. Never tried it for all the reasons you said - was worried about the result. But I think I will give it a try for the next quilt I'm going to quilt myself. Great post!

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  10. I'm with you - I use sheets for anyone who won't appreciate a pieced back. Surprisingly, not everyone wants a double sided quilt (crazy talk). I recently used a 600 thread count sheet (the color and price were perfect) without any incident at all. I do usually try to prewash the sheets (I'm allergic to the sizing on them) but I've used them unwashed too without any quilting problems. The sheets last waaaaay longer than backing in muslin (the traditional option), and they're super easy, and very affordable. Oh, and if you buy them in sets, I just cut the elastic off the fitted sheet and you get about the same size. Sometimes the cute ones are only available in sets.... :D

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  11. Thanks for the info. I usually use wide backing, but will consider sheets now.

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  12. Thanks for this useful information, especially about the thread count and finish. I was told early on not to use sheets, but that was back when they were heavy percale (and meant to last a lifetime) and I was hand quilting. I may need to rethink this. My rule for backings has usually been to use as much of the leftover fabric from the front as possible or buying from the sale shelves. This would be a good alternative.

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  13. What a great tip, have wondered if this worked....and now I know it will. Happy to have this info. Thanks!

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  14. I was also told not to use sheets so I am thrilled with this info! Thanks for writing!!

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  15. I use sheets all the time! In fact, at thrift shops, you can get vintage patterned flat sheets that are 100% cotton for little money. I also use the lower thread count and wash first. They work fine on my longarm. When I give my trunk show, people are stunned to see how many of the quilts are backed with sheets. I am trying to make converts!

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  16. I completed a quilt top a few weeks ago and considered using a sheet for the backing but I was planning on quilting it on my brand new machine and I was skeered!!!lol Instead I payed over $30 for an oversized backing. Next time I'll just go for it! Thanks for the info!

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  17. Now this is interesting and an eye opener! I'm surprised at how many already use sheets...how it isn't such a taboo and that they work perfectly! I'm sold!! I'll be giving it a try now!

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    1. What you are seeing is that people just ignore the experts and do what they want anyway - just don't talk about it too much lest they stir up the quilt police. :)

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  18. I use sheets a lot too. Most of mine are vintage and/or percale. I've had zero issues on my Janome. My stitching actually looks better on the sheets than normal cotton fabric!

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  19. I have a question for you.

    I don't typically prewash my fabrics (often, I work with FQ's), and I like the wrinkly look when I wash it for the first time. Do you have any issues with differences in shrinkage between the top, and a commercial sheet? Do you prewash the sheets?

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  20. I use sheets all the time and have never had an issue. I have been told not to do it but as you found out its a matter of opinion. Thanks for validating it for the rest of us.

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  21. THANK YOU, thank you, thank you - I (being a little too Scottish) have a problem spending another $50 for a solid piece of material for the back of my quilt. I was under the impression that sheets were only used for "charity" quilts. But I am so happy to hear I can use a sheet. THANK YOU, thank you and a big thank you to all these ladies that have commented and supported your news!

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    1. The quilting guilds are filled with women who have a lot of money to burn and would scoff at the idea of any using sheets as backings but think it is such a good idea to use tshirt, men's shirts,ties and baby clothes as memory quilts. Back in the earlier parts of the 19th century they used flower bags for quilt backs, so why not used sheets

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    2. I meant flour bags. auto correct is the reason one should proof read

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  22. I haven't ever tried sheets for the backing, but thanks to your review, maybe I'll give one a try. Your latest finish looks great!

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  23. Super helpful info, thank you!

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  24. I've only use a sheet once, on a summer quilt with no batting inside. I thought I might use it without a top sheet on the bed, so having a sheet on the back of the quilt would feel smooth and nice. It worked out great!

    I like the idea of looking for vintage sheets at the thrift store. I often use vintage fabrics for backings, but like lots of your other commenters I just don't like the piecing.

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  25. Yes to using sheets as backings and my vintage Singer sews through everything that I have used so far. No problems here.

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  26. I have used bed sheets for quilt backings many times and never been disappointed. I appreciate knowing about the Target brand as they are considerably less expensive than the ones I used. I also prewash them and I use spray baste to make my sandwich. My Janome has no problems (neither did my old Kenmore or my Brother) and the quilts have held up beautifully after many washings. Thanks for exposing an old wives tale!

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  27. Thanks for your and all the other commenters input. Will try sheets in the future, too.

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  28. Thanks for the info. I will try it out!

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  29. I am a long arm quilter and over the years have had a number of customers bring in quilts with ( sheets) for backings. I have never had problems quilting them. They have been 100% cotton, and mostly 200 count. I had one that was for a very special ( wedding) quilt...the sheet was high thread count (900) and, had a ( satin finish) ... That one was a serious challenge. I had to do some tension adjustments, change threads ( to a 100 wt. silk) . And a fine needle. But it turned out great-- worth the beginning head aches. :)
    I never discourage people from using what they want, feel would be best. Sometimes a challenge, but knowing sometimes a person wouldn't be able to do what they love ( make quilts) if they didn't find ways to do it inexpensively .
    I know there are many quilters out there that ( shutter) at the thought....sometimes I find that ( sad) -- to be so " stuck" in a preconceived.mind set that only spending $$$$$ makes their quilts (real) .

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    1. This is a good comment. We should encourage people, not be the quilt police and discourage.
      The person who does machine quilting for me is fine with using sheets. Although I have not done so yet, I will definitely do so in the future. Cost/convenience will determine when.
      Thank you all for sharing your information.

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  30. I too received the same advice from experienced quilters when I asked the same question you did. However, I did my own thing too and found them to be great. I have used vintage cotton sheets from the charity shop many times and not had a problem. I have also used them when quilting on my longarm and haven't had an issue! As you say backing can be a really expensive part of the quilt and it works why not go for it!

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  31. I have used a sheet for backing twice. The first time was a vintage sheet that I used on the very first quilt I made for my daughter and used the leftovers for binding too. Holding up well! The second time was a brand new sheet and a poly/cotton blend. Used the leftovers for binding on that one, too. The only issue I had with that one was the fabric edges frayed a bit more than cotton. But it turned out great in the end! This is a wonderful post topic and it is interesting to read everyone's dialog. No one in my family likes to use the flat sheet from a set of new sheets so I will always use new ones for backing quilts now.

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  32. I've never use a flat sheet before, but I can tell you I'm going to now. I will definitely keep in mind the lower thread count when I'm shopping. Thanks so much for sharing this info.

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  33. Glad to hear you did some experimenting on this, Cheryl. I had no such advice, so my first few quilts were backed with sheets, because let's face it, they work and cost way less! Since those first few quilts, I've lost count how many times I've used sheets as quilt backs and I've had no problems. I've always just done machine quilting on my domestic machines and it's gone smoothly whether I use one of my vintage Singers,or my 1991 Janome. I have used vintage sheets, flannel sheets and IKEA sheets, but only sheets that are 100% cotton (as I'm a bit of a fibre snob and detest polyester blends). I will also use sheets in place of muslin for projects that will be quilted (such as pillows, wall hangings, bags, placemats, etc.) as it's more economical.


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  34. Thanks Cheryl: I've never used sheets having heard all the negative press but I'm gonna now. I've usually used sale fabrics but I think I'll go for lower thread count cotton now. Thanks for sharing . You and so many others have done this that I think its a go!

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  35. This is music to my ears Cheryl! By the time I get ready to do the backing, my mind has already moved on to the next project and I barely have the patience to sew even a couple of seams in the backing. Plus, as you noted, using quilting cotton on the back is so expensive. Just think how much money and time you've saved us with this great post! Thank you bunches!

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  36. You hit the nail on the head. Also, don't discount overstock.com They have some of those great name brands priced so low, much like target and stand behind the quality of their products. Thanks for posting about this, Cheryl.

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  37. Thanks for the great advice. I have never even considered using a sheet as a backing. And if the cost is right...
    I think I will certainly give this a try.
    Have you ever tried to do a little applique on one? Just one little pop color? I usually stick to solid backs, but always love the ones that have that interesting piece on them.

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  38. As far as I'm concerned, you can use whatever you want and whatever works for the quilt back, unless you are planning on entering it in shows. Otherwise, there are no quilt police! I have used sheets and have been very happy with the results, even on my long-arm.

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  39. I use them all the time! They work great and usually use them on charity projects. Not sure about long-arms but they are great with a domestic machine. Great cheaper alternative. I too use the Target sheets they work well.

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  40. Hmmmm, hot topic right here! I have always wondered but am too chicken! Maybe I will give it a go. Thanks Cheryl.

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  41. Ugh, i hate piecing quilt backs too! lol Which is kind of funny considering piecing the front is so much fun but the back.. no! Using a flat sheet is such a great idea. Thanks :)

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  42. Great tip, Cheryl!I will definitely be trying this at some point!

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  43. I have used sheets for backings and love not having to piece fabric for a backing. My grandmother used sheets any time she could for backings and those quilts lasted for years. She always bought the least expensive sheet she could find, too. Thanks for the review of the Target sheets. I will look for those the next time I need a backing!

    Sandy A

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  44. I too use sheets mine are poly cotton and also I take apart duvet covers and use those too.Ikea do some good fabrics that are very reasonable too but they have to be joned very interesting reading what others have shared re backings

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  45. Margaret above has added a good idea to the already great post and comments. I have occasionally used cotton sheets for backing but tend to shy away from them because they are usually plain and I like to hide my stitching imperfections in a patterned fabric! Using a duvet cover could be the answer for me ☺

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  46. I have never used a sheet as a backing but I have always wanted to try. Thanks for the advice on what to look for!

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  47. I'm glad to see your post. There seems to be some quilting snobbery about using sheets. I wouldn't recommend using a second hand sheet for the reasons you mentioned; plus, the fabric content is sometimes a mystery. However, I have used loose cotton woven sheets before with no issues. The recipient is also a consideration. Quilting fabric is ridiculously expensive for the back side of a quilt which no one sees.

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  48. I just like the sheets to be soft. I love using cute ones with subtle designs on them.
    I am always on the look out for nice sheets. Also piecing mens shirts, and gosh, just about anything for our quilting endeavors, right :-D

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  49. I use bed sheets for backings all the time and I've no problems at all. You are right though - the cheaper lower thread count ones are best. I get them when they're on sale so it's a much cheaper alternative for me. Thank you so much for posting this.

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  50. I have always heard sheets were a no no too. A carry over perhaps from hand quilting days when high thread count made it harder to quilt. I'm glad you posted about this topic and happy to hear so many have had a good experience with sheets. I have considered using a sheet but just haven't tried it yet. Right now I have a stack of backing fabric bought on sale but once I use that up I'll definitely consider using sheet. The only thing that would keep me from it is that I usually prefer a print fabric back.

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  51. I use sheets all the time. Vintage or new. I love not having to piece especially for larger quilts. Plus the softness of a vintage sheet on a quilt back, you can't beat that.

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  52. Fantastic post! I solely use repurposed sheets as backings and completely agree with the cheaper quality, lower thread count being the best! While any type of sheet is "useable" results definitely vary. The one that gave me the most difficulty had a shiny polyester side which was not very cooperative. Still made it happen though! ;)

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  53. Thanks for all of your suggestions. I've really been wanting to try using a sheet backing but heard a lot of the same things as you. I need to make a charity quilt sometime this year and this will be the perfect project to try it out.

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  54. I purchased a clearanced duvet cover at IKEA then opened up all of the stitching to use for a charity backing. It was serviceable. I have two sets of higher thread count Threshold sheets for our bed, which we love. They are so soft. I especially like the wide elastic corners and that the sides/top/bottom of the fitted sheet are labeled which comes in handy on a king sheet. Now I need to go back to T to find twin flats! Thanks for the thorough review!

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  55. I've never used a sheet backing, but it sounds like a great idea for quilts that are going to see a lot of use.

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  56. I believe in trying things out on my own too. I haven't had any need to use large backings yet, but I have seen others using ikea sheets with fun prints for backing. They looks really great too. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am so glad you tried this out.

    -Soma

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  57. Thank you so much for this knowledge I'm on a fixed income so any time I can save some money and also make my quilts backing feel softer I'm all for it, and I'm definitely going to try it.

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  58. I am a long-time garment sewer and have a hard time listening to all the things quilters say "don't do this, don't do that". I have only ever used sheets as quilt backing and think paying the yardage costs for fabric big enough for quilt backs is crazy. After all, wasn't quilting done as a thrifty craft? I use sheets in my piecing too and have no issues at all.

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  59. I'd love if you'd share these super useful suggestions at my linky: http://quiltingmod.blogspot.com/2016/06/lessons-learned-linky-6.html

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  60. Wish I had read this post last week. I had just finished a charity quilt and I had no suitable backing for it. No, I did NOT want to spend $40+ for a backing. I purchased a very inexpensive solid from JAF that I had to piece. It was awful!! In this particular case, I guess I got what I paid for. :-( I have a couple more charity tops waiting in the wings and I'm going to Target to find a nice match.

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  61. I like to use Cotton Flannel for those winter quilts and when you are making a king size, you can not beat the price. Kids and baby quilts I find some of the darling sheet sets so they have a pillow case the fitted sheet to match. I have sized down a fitted sheet from twin to baby. I also make 6-8 donation quilts a year and sometimes cost is a factor. I have a wonderful quilter, who suggests the best patterns to quilt also. Thanks for the Blog!

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  62. I did on my third quilt for the very reason you stated; it is really expensive unless you score $5/yard fabric (I always check the sale section at quilt shops. Always.) My first quilt was a muslin backing, and has held up well, and also has that old fashioned look. my second was a wideback from the LQS that made several hairs turn grey in the purchase, LOL, but I didn't know any better... My point is that the cotton/poly blend flat sheet I used has held up WONDERFULLY. I quilted it on my Elna and she loved it. I will definitely revisit this now I am making more charity quilts. Thanks Cheryl! I hope many quilt 'snobs' out there will read this!

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  63. Love this! I had never thought to use a sheet before, but such a great idea as it's *so* much more affordable. It'd be fun to stop at some second hand stores and shop vintage sheets, too.

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  64. Thank you for this post! You've included all the information I've been wondering about. I have a couple of sheets bought specifically for quilt backs that I've been a big ol' chicken about using. Now that I've read this, I'm going to give it a try!

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  65. I bought a queen sheet set for $16...I figure I can take the elastic out of the fitted one. I haven't tried them yet, but I'm so happy to read your post Cheryl. Youve given lots of helpful information. Now I'm just waiting for the perfect project to use with a sheet!

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  66. Yay! I've always thought it should work--now I'll feel free to use cotton sheets!

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  67. Goodness, but you found some lovely sheets to use for backings! The deep grey with the slight texture is very much in keeping with textured quilting cotton prints. My only issue with using sheets is that I have a hard time finding anything but whites. Still, the duvet cover might be a good option. Thanks so much for publishing your findings!

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  68. Thank you so much for the great idea. I am going to use sheets too!

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  69. I always heard bearding would be the problem with using sheets. Has anyone had trouble with batting bearding through the sheets? My aunt did wonderful hand quilted whole cloth quilts...beautiful work, but all of her quilts ( quilted in the 1970's and 1980's) beard terribly. I think most of her fabrics were purchased at Joann or Walmart. She did not use sheets, so this is not necessarily related to this topic...it is just always my concern. Bearding doesn't show as much on light/white fabric, but really makes a mess of dark fabrics. Maybe cotton batting would not beard like my aunts poly batting did. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. My quilts are not heirloom quilts, but would still hate to deal with all of that fuzz.

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    1. It's the poly batting that beards.

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    2. That's an excellent question to add to the conversation. I have only once had a problem with bearding. In that case I used a good quality "quilter's cotton" for the backing and for piecing the front and I believe the batting was cotton with a poly scrim. The bearding was on both sides of the quilt so my conclusion was that it was the batting that caused the problem.

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  70. I am a hand quilter. Any opinions on using sheets when handquilting?

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  71. Thanks Cheryl! When I began quilting in the 80's I was told by guild members and teachers to never use sheets as quilt backing. Since I hand quilted then it probably made sense. But now I love machine piecing and FMQ, I just wish I knew this sooner. All the $$$ I could have saved! I found Target sheets several years ago and think they wash and wear great! I'll try the IKEA sheets too!

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  72. Years ago, as a very new quilter, I used a sheet on the back of the quilt for my two year old son's "big boy bed". It was a tied quilt, but the best part was that my two year old learned to make his own bed because he didn't have to deal with a top sheet! I just washed the quilt a lot more often than I might have otherwise. He's 37 now, the quilt still is loved by his twin sons and his wife. The top is wearing out, but the back is still fine!

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  73. I love the idea of having pillow cases to match and also a bottom sheet to match. I will definitely try this. Thanks for the post.

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  74. I sometimes use sheets or pieces of sheets. I love getting the soft ones at the thrift store for fifty cents. I also spray & pin baste and never have had a problem. Whatever is thrifty and creative - that is the best.

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  75. My mother for 40 years used sheets as backing she has one her quilts on display and it has a sheet backing. I also know that back in the 40'S she used grain bags you would get chicken feed and other feed in them some of them had beautiful prints you sewed 4 together to make a backing for double quilt. So I guess you used what you have

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  76. my neighbor ,rather than using the high priced minkie uses the king size blankets from Costco . They run @ $19 . they are limited in color but quilt up nicely

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  77. Sheets were used for generations as backing. I use them quite often. I do use the high count sometimes and have had good luck. I think you just have to judge the quality of each sheet. If your hand quilting and in doubt take your needle and see how it goes through w/o thread on the edge. Sheet backs are a great way to keep reproduction quilts looking authentic.

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  78. I have used sheets as backing too. I once used a sheet with a damask print and hand quilted that one. It was a huge mistake! Pushing that needle through damask was brutal! In the end, though, it turned out great.

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    1. I think hand-quilting is what started the taboo on sheets. I found it to hard to hand quilt a sheet.

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  79. Been there .Done that. Sheets are fabric. They work just fine.

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  80. When I first started quilting I mixed good quilt shop fabric with Wal Mart fabric. The quilt went to live with my daughter and has been washed a lot! (aka dog quilt ;( ) But I found the good quilt shop fabric has not faded and the Wal Mart fabric has lost about 50% of it's color.
    So my question is after lots of washes how do the sheets hold up? I know the ones on my bed that get washed weekly do fade. And they are the Hotel Brand from Macy's (high thread count).

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  81. I am a professional long arm quilter. A customer brought me flat sheets to use as backs on two of her large T-shirt quilts. I had no trouble quilting these quilts at all. I quilt on an Innova long arm. I also have no trouble with batik backs - something else I've heard you should not do. You certainly cannot beat the price of inexpensive flat sheets!

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  82. Sheets are great backings. I recycle older sheets, as the top (flat sheet) usually doesn't have the wear. Since they are soft after many washings, thread count is not so important. they are especially good for charity quilts, like Operation Smile and Gift of Life.

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  83. I eould love to hear from a certified quilt judge and an appraiser. I'm sure many very valuable antique quilts had sheets for backing. Why is there such a "taboo" now? I do realized that our LQS will suffer but, maybe they could start stocking sheets in coordinating colors to their fabrics.

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  84. I eould love to hear from a certified quilt judge and an appraiser. I'm sure many very valuable antique quilts had sheets for backing. Why is there such a "taboo" now? I do realized that our LQS will suffer but, maybe they could start stocking sheets in coordinating colors to their fabrics.

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  85. I especially like to use flannel sheets for backing. They hold up well, and the quilts will not slip off the bed as easily. I have had no problems quilting them on my home sewing machines. They are so soft and comfy.

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  86. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  87. I not only use sheets for backings, I will use them in the top if the color/print is perfect for the quilt. My favorite so far was cutting up a Shabby Chic crib sheet from Target to use as backing and sashing on the front of a pastel baby quilt. It quilted just fine on my long arm(HQ Avante).

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  88. I used sheets on my early quilts, hand and machine quilted. That's before I found out they weren't recommended! I had no problem with them and also prefer not piecing the backing. It's nice to be able to buy wide backing but it does get pricy.

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  89. I found a duvet cover at the thrift shop and was amazed at how much fabric I had when I took it apart. It had been well used and was very soft, but also very strong. I've used it on several projects and still have some large pieces left. Thrift store sheets are a real bargain, too, as are pillow cases, which sometimes have great prints.

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  90. I find all these comments interesting -- 100 of them. I've been sewing since I was 14 years old - now 73. After my first home ec teacher failed me for my apron and stated on my report card -- Has no talent -- I said that's it with teachers. People always remark at how detailed, professional, etc. my work is - whether a quilt, clothing, a costume, a wedding/prom gown, etc. They ask, how I learned all this. I answer basically via reading sewing/quilt books and "experimenting". When young I was told "Never say Never". So, when the experts say "never", I ask why. Why wouldn't a sheet make a good quilt backing? It's most likely cotton, should wash as well, probably manufactured on the same looms, and to be washed many times. Here's my answer: It's the marketing experts that create the "nevers". After all the time/
    efforts put into the quilt top, they know the customer will "pay the top dollar" to not take a chance on the "lesser quality sheet" for the backing. So, yeah, to all of you "creative" quilters who "think out of the box" and take a chance -- and most likely say many dollars. Think of all the beautiful quilts made for years to recycle or use scraps before quilt kits, special needles, threads, fabrics, and on and on. Now, these quilters were really "creative" and the marketing experts hadn't gotten to them yet!

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    1. Yes Ma'am! And besides, I have learned that there really are no rules... except keep a 1/4" seam.... and sometimes you can throw that out too ;) I have made whole quilts completely out of sheets, tops and bottoms and they are just fine. Of course I usually use cute cotton ones from the thrift shop.

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  91. I have used sheets with success. Cotton fabric is so expensive these days and when you need 6-8 YARDS for a backing, it is a real stretch! One of the things I love about a couple of the sheets I used for backing is that they "rustle" when you move the quilt around. I love hearing that sound!! I don't know the thread count of those sheets--I bought them long ago and removed them from their packaging to pre-wash. They are 100% cotton, of that I am sure and the brand is the "store brand" from a store that is no longer in business (Mervyn's). I must agree with the comment just before mine--about the marketing wonks who create the "rules" for what we all "need" to buy. Hmmmmm...a nice cotton sheet for $13, or yards and yards of cotton quilt back fabric at $12-$15 PER YARD. Of course, quilters may want the exact matching fabric for their backings, but for family use, pet blankets, donated quilts, a sheet makes a LOT of sense.

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  92. For years I sold home fashions for one of the large department stores. During that time wrinkle free cotton sheets came on the market. We were told they are treated with formaldehyde to keep them wrinkle free. So, I have never bought 'wrinkle free' sheets in my lifetime.

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  93. Mary Robertson
    Thank you for all the information on using a sheet as backing for a quilt. I have a large flannel quilt top that I can now finish without a huge expense.

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  94. The Taboo came about because hand quilting with sheet backing is horrible. To tight and stiff for pushing the needle through. Machine is an entirely different story

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  95. I backed and long armed a quilt with a vintage sheet. A couple people asked me how well I thought it would hold up in the long run. Um, the sheet is already older than me, and in perfect condition, so.... I've often used Target flannel sheets for winter quilts, then my MIL takes the scrap chunks and pillowcases and makes pj pants for the grandkids. We can get a lot of use out of one sheet set!

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  96. As older relatives have passed away, I have inherited some of their textiles. I've longarmed two vintage flat sheets into simple quilts for my grandchildren to play with. They make great forts. The quilts are soft and they remind me of my childhood visits with my relatives. I piece random bits of leftover bindings, so my only expenses are batting thread and my time. I love that they are continuing a legacy of family visits.

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  97. Tickled to see this post! My aunt recently passed away and I just could not throw away all her vintage linens. As I started to collect them (we were cleaning out her apartment), no one questioned, all i said was Quilts, and they all knew! I love the prints and they are super soft! I'm working on a few quilts now and look forward to using the vintage sheets :-)

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  98. I've used flat sheets for all my quilts and never had any problem.In fact I'm working on one quilt for my mother and she asked me to use an old sheet for backing (according to her it feels softer).Whatever you say mom!

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  99. Love this post!. I use flannel sheets from thrift stores and garage sales in place of the batting. It doesn't matter if it is faded. They work well on quilt as you go. A quilt is a gift of love.

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  100. Love this post!. I use flannel sheets from thrift stores and garage sales in place of the batting. It doesn't matter if it is faded. They work well on quilt as you go. A quilt is a gift of love.

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  101. I think the key is the lower thread count. I used some 200 count with my longarm, and had no troubles, either. Always wise to investigate what "everybody" says. =)

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  102. Thank you for this Great post. I have used sheets as quilt backing for tied quilts, DSM quilted AND quilted on my long arm. I have not personally ever had any problems that I have seen others report. I have even used two flat sheets as a quilt for my mothers birthday gift last year! It's the perfect year around weight for my folks bed.

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  103. When I was growing up, that's all we ever used was sheets. So it really made me wonder (while reading) why people say not to use sheets.

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  104. When I was growing up, that's all we ever used was sheets. So it really made me wonder (while reading) why people say not to use sheets.

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  105. hand quilters don't like sheets on the backs of quilts.

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  106. Cheryl, your timing is impeccable! I just bought a tall bag full of sheets that seem to be brand new. I was hoping some of them would fit my bed but reasoned that paying $5 for the entire bag (about 6 sets of sheets) was not a bad price to pay for a number of quilt backings if I was not lucky enough to get the right size sheets for my bed. As it turns out, one set fit my bed and the rest will be quilt backings. Thanks for being supportive to quilters who need to save money where they can in order to keep quilting.
    Marsha from QuilterinMotion.net

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  107. Nice thought to use cut pice of cloth and make Luxury bed linen. Thanks for sharing this idea.

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  108. I am a hand quilter and was wondering how sheets would work for hand quilting.

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  109. I've used sheets for years - both as a backing and often as 'batting' for baby quilts, to make a lightweight quilt that will last like iron. New sheets or used - often you will find really nice white sheets at Goodwill (which I take home, and soak in boiling water with borax in the sink) and then wash. I hang up the sheets to dry outside if the weather is good. This is to make sure they are really clean. I've hand quilted these too, and its always worked well for me. I've also used sheets for curtains (like those at Walmart that come packaged separately, so I buy the flat sheets only). Easy to make curtains out of and I always buy used sheets from Goodwill for the lining fabric. Using conduit for the rod, and rings and those make a really great 'industrial' look for a play room or child's room. Deb E

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  112. Whenever I'm at a thrift store, I always look for 100% cotton sheets or duvet covers. I've found full/queen duvet covers for $6 -- that's a lot of nice cotton fabric for $6! I've used "sheet" fabric in backs and in piecing for the front.

    Now I want to get to the thrift store again -- I have a big roll of fleece I need some backing for to make warm charity blankets!

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  113. I've always used sheets, mostly vintage, when available. Recently I bought a duvet cover at IKEA in the "as-is" bin for $10. It had no packaging, but was 100% cotton and otherwise perfect. Since the duvet covers have two sides, the cover yielded 2 huge quilt backs for $5 each. I also suggest hunting Etsy for sellers who sell sheets. I used to sell them myself, but nowadays just horde them, LOL!

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  114. I have never used a flat sheet and probably never will since I already use thrifted fabric, batting and thread. I love the pieced backings so the quilt can be enjoyed on both sides.

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  115. I like your article. This very informative knowledge. Please click on Bed Linens

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  116. I didn't realise sheets were supposedly some kind of epic no-no. Weird. I raided our airing cupboard when we did it out before moving house and "rescued" quite a few bits of bedding to use as patchwork or quilt backs - not that I've managed to use any of them yet, lol! But I WILL use them, be sure of it. :) I've got one flat sheet that is just perfect for a scrappy Irish Chain I want to finish this year...

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  117. I buy sheets at the Goodwill for $3. I only buy flat sheets in excellent condition. I have found some beautiful sheets and used them for both backings and piecing blocks also. I made about six quilts before I found out it wasn't a good idea. HA!

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  118. Sheets sounds like a great idea...BUT do you still use batting if you use a cotton sheet and no batting if you use a flannel sheet?????

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  119. I, too, look for king size 100% cotton flat sheets at Goodwill - lots of fabric for very little $. My 2nd quilt was made of 2 sheets: 1 for the back & 1 for the front. I quilted it myself for my queen size bed & it's my favorite of the 4 I've made. It has horizontal lines with a few diagonals thrown in where it looked good to me. I used variegated green thread, so it contrasts nicely with the solid cinnamon color front and the brushed, soft green print on the back. Love it! Thanks for this article from this newbie :)

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  120. I didn't know any better until I went on a quilt retreat with a number of the big spenders referenced above. I was the lone scrap quilter as well... lots of comments about how people think scrap quilts are beautiful but they could never do them for themselves. I acquired a number of items throughout the weekend that they didn't know what to do with ;) (I joked that I learned my place in the quilting world, I am the recycler). I had pieced together a scrappy top on a whim and was given a "scrap" of batting that fit it perfectly... but no backing. I commented on heading out to find a thrift store for a sheet and they totally balked! So of course I started second guessing myself even though I have successfully used sheets many times (even doing a handquilting project with one, but I guess it's low enough count to not be a big issue). THEN I read the comment about longarms potentially being an issue... Ack! I am planning on getting my first one this weekend and was nervous that it might not work as well for me as I had hoped ($1000 for a solid "vintage" machine and table... works well as is :) ). Thankfully some longarmers have chimed in with reassurance that it shouldn't be an issue. I was scanning the single sheets at Walmart the other day and that lady's voice was in the back of me head - that sheets are a no-no for backing, so I left without one. I had this battle in my head, arguing back and forth about it :P And I know which side just won - I will continue on with my scraps and sheets and not worry about what everyone else is doing!

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  121. I am so glad I ran across this today. I am working on my first quilt for my granddaughter and was wondering if I could use a sheet for backing, I was not looking forward to piecing a back.Thanks for the information

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  122. I am so glad I ran across this today. I am working on my first quilt for my granddaughter and was wondering if I could use a sheet for backing, I was not looking forward to piecing a back.Thanks for the information

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  123. Thank you so so so much for putting this out there! I am new to quilting and was wondering today if there was a cheaper way to back my quilts and here we are! I plan to go to Target immediately so I don't have to spend $80 on fabric for a quilt that is for cuddling on the couch with the dog and cat. Before I felt like I had to have a special pattern for everything I did, but I now realize that solids and flat sheets are my friends for quilting on a budget! In my next life I'll be able to buy one yard bundles of all my favorite lines, but for now this is a perfect solution :)

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    1. I find that the 100% Cotton sheets are best. I find mine at the thrift shop.

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  124. I'm so glad I came across this article. I have just recently started quilting. I've been working on little projects like totes and table runners, even made my dog a new bed so I could practice. I'm currently working on my very first quilt top; while planning the back I was shocked to realize what it was going to cost me to buy what I needed to complete it. Everyone has such great input and ideas. I have already hit the thrift stores for jeans to make totes, never thought to check out the bedding section... guess where I'll be next time I go.

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  125. This post just made my day! I just made my first lap quilt over the weekend and the piecing of the backing made me never want to do it again - I just didn't enjoy the process. So excited to give this method a try!!!

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