Why choose wide backing?
If you have been quilting for a number of years, you have more than likely come across wide backing. It is available in widths such as 90” and 108”, and there are some good reasons to consider it for your next project.
The two main reasons that I encourage you to use it are that it can save you time and money. It saves time, because you do not need to seam any fabric together, and it can save you money because it costs less per square inch than regular yardage. If you like to match up pattern repeats when seaming a backing, this takes even more time and more yardage, however, with wide backing this need is eliminated.
One downside is that there is a much more limited selection of prints and colors than regular yardage, and you may not be able to coordinate prints or fabric collections from the front as easily. Some fabric designers, however, will release coordinating wide backing prints with some of their collections, but you will want to snatch it up since it most likely will not be reprinted.
Another con to consider is that 108” wide fabric can be a little cumbersome to work with, and although a larger cutting mat or cutting area can help, not everyone has these available. In addition, squaring the fabric can take some extra time and patience, but the pros still outweigh the cons for me.
Let’s look at a price comparison using Moda fabric. These are in U.S. dollars, but the general savings will be similar to other currencies.
Moda Bella Solid wide backing is $12.99/yard, so for a king size quilt it is $38.97 for 3 yards of wide backing (108” x 108”). If you were to piece 42-44” yardage you would need 9 yards @ $7.99 for Bella Solids $71.91 (131” x 108”). So wide backing ends up being about $33 less (46% savings), plus lots of extra fabric for future quilts or sashing.
The actual savings will ultimately depend on the size of your quilt top, and you may not always have a purpose for the excess fabric that will result in some cases, but the savings are pretty large.