The Backside Story

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SoftComfyHello friends of First Friday’s!  It’s your friend TJ here to fill you in on the what’s been happening with my quilt project.

Last month we left off with my layout decisions made and my rows neatly stacked like proud soldiers.  I strutted around completely and utterly proud of myself until one tiny nagging detail crept in: the backside.

OMG this thing needs a backside.

Susan had suggested in a couple of her comments that I could use flannel and sew this thing up rag quilt style.  This seemed like the perfect idea considering I had decided to use the three hundred or so 4″ squares that I had already cut up and sitting there, just waiting to be sewn.  StacksWaiting

I headed to the fabric store, coupons in one fist and notes in the other.

I was immediately greeted with enthusiasm.  “What can we help you with today?” the sales clerk kindly asked.

“Flannel,” I answered confidently.

That confidence lasted exactly 43 more seconds until I got into the aisle and was hit with the overwhelming selection and the endless decisions that lay ahead of me.  I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted.  I wanted something neutral.  I didn’t fart around for an entire day on my knees sorting blocks by the slightest variation of shade in order to put something contrasting or competing in there.  I considered white but then immediately dismissed it since we’ll be using the quilt outside.  I was thinking brown, blue, or gray until I got there and saw all the prints there were to choose from.  Oh my.  Pretty soon I was weighing the merits of a gray chevron against a cream with gold polka dots.  Then I was looking at a checkerboard skater style in between fingering all the traditional shirt flannels.  I went back and forth trying to visualize the finished project with the various options.  There was star flannel, froo-froo kiddie flannel, sporty flannel – and people let me tell you nothing could have prepared me for the discovery of biker flannel! I must’ve spent 30 minutes in that aisle in a fugue state.

Since I was planning on a rag quilt I wasn’t sure if I picked a bigger print how it would look once it was all cut down into 4″ squares and sewn back together willy-nilly.  Surely you’d lose the overall pattern and it would look like Grandma’s china smashed to smithereens and glued back together by desperate children.  Eventually I came back to my senses and returned to the original plan for a solid.  And that’s when it happened.

For no apparent reason whatsoever, a bolt of fabric fell off the shelf behind me and whacked me in the butt.  I turned around and tried to wrestle it back in place but it would not nestle back between it’s neighbors.  Suddenly I was petting it and thinking about what that would be like on the back of my quilt.  It was something from the ‘Soft and Comfy’ section.  The label read, “100% Polyester.”  So even though it feels like a soft exotic animal, I’m pretty sure nothing living was harmed or killed in the making of it.

Next, two ladies appeared who had a cart. (And here’s a little tip for you…if you have a cart full of fabric, you’re obviously a pro so you are opening yourself up to questions from rookie clowns like myself).  These women uttered something like, “we sew everything.”

Clearly these were angels sent from Fabric Heaven to help me.

I lured them into my quilt project.  Next thing you know I marched that big beasty bolt of soft and comfy right up to the cutting counter because they said the most important thing that I had lost sight of, “you can put whatever you want on the back of your quilt.  That’s why you’re sewing it.”

It couldn’t have been a clearer message.  They’re absolutely right!  If I want this thing to be denim on one side and Snuffelupogus on the other, that’s up to me!  Hello people, there is no right or wrong here.

After some discussion, it was ascertained that the worst that can happen is that if I want to use this synthetic fabric as the back it isn’t going to “rag” as other rag quilts.  It’s probably just going to curl once it’s washed. The  denim will inevitably fray.  I have no idea how those two things will look together.  I’m not even sure I care.  I like this gray cozy fabric that chose me and sometimes you’ve just got to believe these things happen for a reason.

Sewing Cartoon

TJ Goerlitz is a mixed media artist who pretends to be a seamstress whenever possible.  Come connect with her on her site, Studio Mailbox, her Facebook page, or in Pinterest.  Join in the story of the denim quilt every first Friday of the month where she will share her progress (or non-progress) right here with the readers of The Sewing Loft.



  1. Debbie Feely says

    Are you sure those sewists were from heaven? I’ve heard Minky is hellish to sew and certainly created by Satan. (found in forum search) Since someone special is asking for minky I need to know! Any helps here? Thanks.

    • Oh boy Debbie you have started my day in a fit of giggles! It’s called “Minky?” So far I am not struggling too much… I have screwed up cutting one row of squares because my guide slipped. It certainly is minky and slinky. Now I’m wondering what the sewing will be like…

    • wendymphx says

      I will contest, sewing Minky is like trying to sew water! It CAN be done but it requires patience, a private room so no one will hear you swear and alcohol (whether or not you are a drinker!)…God bless and good luck

      • Wendy!! Sewing water? OMG it is exactly like me that I chose the world’s worst fabric for the back. I’m laughing so hard right now but that’s because I haven’t tried to sew it yet…

  2. CarolynS says

    I love Minky, but, I have only sewn baby blankets from it and that was on a serger. I assume that you don’t want to serge a rag quilt. I will say that those little wonder clips are fantastic for holding the creepy/crawly stuff in place.
    And, when you do get the quilt finished, it will be one heck of a comfy, cuddly, warm quilt!
    Hang in there!

  3. I was wondering if it was minky. this is going to be interesting.

    • Oh boy. Brenda I swear I didn’t know about the curse of Minky! I can’t believe something that feels that cozy and wonderful can have such a bad reputation. I’m a little nervous now… LOL

  4. Minky is sooo soft and yummy. I have made several quilts with Minky. A few tips that can make your life much easier. After cutting your pieces, place them in the dryer for just a few minutes on low setting to get rid of the extra fluff that happens when you cut. Use a temporary washable spray adhesive to the back of the Minky instead of pinning when placing your layers together. Best thing ever, no more slippery. Love your project!!

    • Betsy thanks for the tips, (and the hope)! Your comment has made me realize that I forgot to wash and dry it before I started cutting squares. Now I am smashing my head on my desk. UGH. I didn’t know about spray adhesive… I shall investigate! Thank you!!

    • thank you for tips from this fellow reader.

  5. Hi TJ,
    I just happened to stumble on a YouTube video by the Missouri Star Quilt Company where she makes a baby quilt, a RAG baby quilt, with minky on one side and flannel on the other. Since I can’t seem to get a handle on getting the link, I will just post the name of the video and you can do a Google search on it, okay? It’s called: “Make an Adorable, Cute, Soft, Cuddly Rag Baby Quilt!”

    This is similar to what I was going to do with my denim quilt, except she’s using Minky and flannel instead of flannel and denim. But she sews an X across the squares before she sews them together keep them from slipping; whereas I was going to use a charm tack. One thing I thought of after watching this: if you use minky on the back, you don’t have to worry about it pilling up like flannel would do. It will thicken up the quilt even if you don’t use batting. And the small sample quilt she makes on the video is so cute! Now you’ve got me wondering if I shouldn’t change my mind and use Minkey instead of flannel because they have that cool, bumpy Minky that I like so much!

    Also, her striped flannel is a very cute. I never thought of using a stripe! And she also shows how to handle the seams and how to snip the seam allowances and then you won’t have to worry about your edges rolling when you wash it. It turned out quite cute! Hope this helps! 🙂

  6. PS: I AM itching to sew my quilt along with you; however have a bigger, more pressing issue to deal with: Due to a gluten sensitivity, and other cross reactive foods that I had to stop eating, I have lost 55 pounds in the last year. Who knew that Inflammation from food Sensitivities could be making me puff up like a balloon? So as you can imagine, nothing I own fits me anymore. I can’t even buy a pair of pants that fit because they all look dorky on me. So, I’m going to have to sew everything from scratch. So, unless I want to stay hidden in my house, I need to deal with that priority first. Unless I want to go everywhere wrapped in a denim rag quilt?!!! 😉

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