Choosing the perfect backing for your quilt – fleece, flannel and minky

May 14, 2024

When it comes to quilting, the fabric we use to back our masterpieces is often a point of debate. For quilters, the decision between fleece, flannel or minky fabric isn’t just about aesthetics but also about practicality and, believe it or not, a pinch of myth-busting.

If you’ve been hesitant to venture into the realm of soft and cozy backings for your quilts, fear not. This guide is tailored to unravel the essence of each fabric while providing insights for novice and seasoned quilters on how to prepare these materials for a seamless longarm process.

The cozy quilt conundrum

For various reasons, many quilters avoid using fleece, flannel or minky as backing fabric. There’s a common myth that these materials are harder to work with on longarm quilting machines. Or perhaps it’s the misconception that they might damage the longarm machine. While well-intentioned, these beliefs often leave quilters missing out on the joys of using these delightful textures.

Before we address these fears, we must first debunk these myths. Fleece, flannel and minky are not inherently problematic for longarm quilting—when handled correctly, they glide through the machine like any other fabric. This article is your gateway to safe and satisfying quilting using these cozy backings.

Flannel fabric facts

Flannel’s popularity in the quilting world is no secret. The warmth and comfort it adds to a quilt are incomparable. But it’s not just about the feel; flannel comes in a wide range of vibrant prints and is easy to work with, making it a favorite for tops and backing fabric.

Choosing the perfect backing for your quilt - picture of flannel fabrics

After you’ve chosen the flannel you’d like to use for your next quilt’s back, remember to pre-wash it to reduce the risk of shrinkage. This helps avoid potential mishaps in your quilting project post-completion. Pre-washing your flannel significantly reduces the risk of shrinkage and enhances the fabric integrity, ensuring your quilt remains the size and shape you intended.

The warm hug of fleece

With the right touch, fleece can add a new dimension to your quilt backing, offering exceptional softness and warmth. It’s a budget-friendly backing option that makes a quilt more durable, especially for blankets intended for children.

Choosing the perfect backing for your quilt - picture of fleece fabrics

Before pinning your fleece to the quilt top for longarm quilting, give its edges a pass with a rotary cutter to make sure your backing is square. As with all cotton backings, fleece must be square on the longarm. When loading fleece, be aware that you are not stretching the fabric. Fleece can stretch easily.

The magic of minky fabric

Minky, a delicately plush fabric, often elicits a sense of luxury. This tactile wonder is not only a delight to touch but also to sew with. While it requires a gentle hand, the results are worth the effort.

Choosing the perfect backing for your quilt - picture of minky fabrics

Choosing solid minky fabric as a backing is sure to make your quilt shine. But be aware that there is a higher pile that, when longarmed, can come to the top. You can fix that by washing your quilt, and the pile will return to the back. Shannon Cuddle, 90 inches wide, is fabulous, especially for larger quilts.

Quilting with confidence

It’s understandable to approach these textiles cautiously, but by understanding their unique attributes, quilters can overcome the fears of using fleece, flannel or minky as quilt backings. Just keep a few guidelines in mind:

  • Make sure your material is square before loading.
  • Load your flannel, fleece or minky fabric as usual, but back off the roller just a smidge. This will ensure your backing is not too tight.

Your quilting adventure reflects your creativity and passion. Step outside your comfort zone and give these cozy fabrics a chance. With the right preparation and inspiration, the quilt you’ve been dreaming of will become a reality.

Don’t be afraid to back your quilts with what feels right—for you. Happy quilting and may all your masterpieces wrap their recipients in warmth and love!