Using up scraps….and a confession



Shall we start with the confession? I’m sure you’re wondering how wicked I’ve been. Well it’s on the back of the quilt above. Yes a polycotton backing! I hadn’t realised when I bought the fabric online but once I dug it out the drawer I realised my mistake.



As an aside yes the grass looks grim and if and when the relentless rain in this horrible cold spring we are having let’s up I will get it done

Polycotton is a divisive topic for quilters with many spurning the use of this fabric for their quilts insisting on pure cotton. Our Siblings Together Bee Quilts guidance notes (or rules!) specify that the fabric used must be good quality quilting cotton but nevertheless sometimes polycotton appears. Some mamas will unpick and resew. Would it surprise you to know I just turn a blind eye!! Although I think whatever the mama specifies then that is what she should be sent be it colour choice or type of fabric  but when it comes to your own quilts well clearly it’s up to you. However I have a feeling that because of inexperience I bought some similar fabric from the Fabric Guild which I’ve used up now but with the benefit of hindsight think was the outlawed polycotton. Sorry mamas if it ended up in your blocks….

Even for cotton purists not all cotton is made equal. There is some horrid stuff out there. I bought a couple of metres of  John Louden Christmas fabric, it was cheap at c£8 per metre, but it was also scratchy and generally unpleasant to the touch. I used it for Christmas sacks so it really didn’t matter.


But as I smooth down the soft and comfortable fabric of my scrappy quilt which is currently draped over me keeping off the chills of a very cold spring, I’m grateful for the quality cotton fabrics from manufacturers such as Moda, RJ Kaufman and AGF. I certainly would not want to use those particular John Louden fabrics for a quilt. The same goes for those starchy rough fat quarter fabrics you see at Hobbycraft. I know, you are saying you pay for what you get and while that’s true I’d rather the relatively cheap soft silky polycotton than the rough and scratchy cotton. Quite the fabric snob aren’t I?

But for all the derision that polycotton incites perhaps not all polycotton is created equally either and the better quality has its place. The fabric for this backing is soft and silky to touch, a bit like an Art Gallery Fabric, it needed next to no ironing and generally behaved itself when basted and sewn. It’s Rose and Hubble fabric  which I believe is quite a good brand. I’d cheerfully use it again and it was a bargain from the Fabric Guild. In fact the feel of it is warmer and cosier than the conventional quilting cotton backed quilts that are piling up waiting to be sent to Siblings Together.

I think the bad reputation is the mixed use of polycotton and cotton in a block; with the former not shrinking as much as the cotton and potentially distorting the block when washed. But as a backing fabric, particularly with the wadding I use being an 80/20 Cotton poly mix from Hobbs, I’m not sure it’s going to be a problem. I must experiment and see whether distortion in a mixed block causes me a problem.

Back to the quilt this was such a quick make I’m almost embarrassed  to show it! After making this quilt with my mum we had a whole load of scrap strips left over. I must have forgotten that with two of us sewing we would make twice as much. I thought it would be effective paired up with white in half square triangles.


These were sooo easy. I simply trimmed the blue strips into 8.5” wide strips and which were about 35” long , added a 8.5” white strip on top the same length and then sewed up both pieces along the long sides. Then using a square ruler lined it up on the sewn edge I just cut out triangles which came out as 10” half square triangles. All very effective and all very easy.


Then laid it out in a design as a straight copy from one on Pinterest and sewed it up.


I had basting help from my daughter which made it so much easier. I must involve her more often. My wicked backing behaved perfectly, to be fair it’s not a huge quilt at c70” by 60”. Then for some simple straight line quilting. This is a quilt that could be good for a boy/young man and I decided curvy free motion quilting wasn’t right. It called out for lines echoing the diamond shape. This  will be heading off to Siblings Together in the summer. There’s more about this wonderful charity in the tab at the top


I will wash the quilt and see whether the uneven shrinkage of cotton front versus polycotton back adversely effects it. Assuming not I’m keeping to my wicked ways….. in the meantime I’d be interested in your views on polycotton – in or out?

Linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts

This is a Q2 QAL finish and covered here 

11 thoughts on “Using up scraps….and a confession

  1. I have often used poly cotton for backs of my quilts, finding it makes really smooth, soft to touch backing, and the preparation for getting the three layers together easier; good quality poly cotton sheets are my choice as I can find the best size, and today there are many colours to choose from.
    I don’t use anything but good quality cotton for my blocks, though I have , rarely, mixed in a little poly cotton IF it’s just that sought for shade, or when I was asked to make a quilt for a friend from her late
    husband ‘s shirts.

    I am currently in Lyme Regis visiting a step daughter who has moved recently and I was delighted to see this quilt I made for her again. I will add a couple of pictures as that quilt has a poly cotton sheet on the back and has been washed often.


  2. Poly/cotton? OUT!!! I was making a block for a group quilt when I made the decision. I cut and sewed accurately, so couldn’t figure out why my block didn’t turn out correctly… until I made a 2nd block and the same thing happened! The poly/cotton shrinks and distorts when pressed with a hot iron. Not OK.


  3. I’ve used poly/cotton without problem. If I use it in blocks I do set my iron a little cooler, it will distort if your iron is very hot. I think it would be a great choice for backing, who irons the back of their quilt?
    For that matter once the quilt is finished it will probably never be ironed again.


  4. I’m going to quilt a small quilt and I’m using a poly/cotton sheet on the back. It’s going to be a charity quilt so who know how it will be taken care of. The poly in the backing should help it last longer. Your quilt is lovely, a great use of leftover fabric. Happy stitching!


  5. I’m not going to be a fabric snob…but I don’t use polycotton! It just doesn’t feel right to me nor does it wash up the way cotton does. However, I feel it is up to the maker. You have to do what you want to do! Your quilt is gorgeous…love the colors and the layout!


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  8. The most viewed post, with a confession of wicked polycotton! Love it, and the quilt is gorgeous. I have found there are so many rules in quilting, unbelievable. I am just breaking them all. And so be it 🙂


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