Tuesday Tip: Quilting with Fireside Backing

There are many choices for backing quilts these days. From regular quilting cottons, to wide backings in both flannel and cotton. Many quilters are going with less traditional options these days and lots of us have moved on to cozy synthetics such as “Fireside” which comes out of our Vancouver, BC warehouse. Fireside is a 150cm (60”) wide 100% polyester fabric with a soft, velvety hand; kind of a velour, making it the perfect width for large lap or single size quilts and can be pieced for larger quilts. It’s less slippery than Minkee, so it’s a little easier to work with with less drama dealing with nap. If you’re thinking about trying one of the 46 different colours of Fireside, here are some tips to consider as you sandwich your next quilt top:

1. Batting or no batting?
Because Fireside is already so cozy, you may decide you don’t have to put batting in your quilt. This makes your project more like a throw. If you think you would still like a layer of batting that’s just fine and most of our samples have batting between the layers as we like warmer quilts in our Canadian climate.
2. Stay sharp!
As with other synthetic fabrics such as Minkee or fleece, you may find that your needle dulls faster than it does when sewing with other fibres. If you start with a fresh needle, you can avoid the pitfalls of dull needles such as breakage, skipped stitches, or the needle trying to push the fabric into the machine.
3. Stitches Sink Right In
Because of the velvety pile of Fireside, it may be hard to see the stitches on the back of your quilt as the stitches can get hidden in the pile. With Fireside, you can use a slightly heavier thread, such as a 30wt, to create more impact with your quilting. We have never had an issue with the “pile” pulling through to the front of a quilt with Fireside on the back. Other polyester backings with higher pile can pull through sometimes and be seen on the front.
4. Baste Well
Fireside is a knit fabric and, like most knit fabrics, it can be a bit stretchy. To keep it from stretching as you sew, it is important to do a good job basting your layers before you start quilting. If you are using quilters’ curved safety pins, you should have one pin every 4” (10cm) both vertically and horizontally.  Basting spray is also a great tool when working with Fireside. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your spray. Many of our quilting friends find Fireside less stretchy than Minkee as they install it on the back of their quilts.
5.  Not Wide Enough? 
If you are piecing the quilt back, make sure that the nap on the panels is running in the same direction.  Also, it is recommended that the nap run down the length of the quilt, i.e. it should feel smooth as you run your hand down from the top of the quilt. A 1/2″ seam allowance works well to join lengths of Fireside. A finger press works good (or gentle press on correct iron setting) to hold the seam allowance open as you prepare your quilt sandwich. That seam almost disappears when working with Fireside and becomes practically invisible. Fireside, if used as backing, should be mounted on a longarm with the stretch going from side to side, so that that into account when piecing.
Next time you’re in the store, check out our selection of Fireside. If you don’t see the colour you want, please ask and our staff will be glad to special order a colour for you pending availability from the warehouse. Everything we have in stock is displayed on our website. You may find it’s just soft and cozy enough to convince you to try using it on the back of a quilt.

2 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip: Quilting with Fireside Backing

  1. I am wondering if Fireside is a good option for a backing on a weighted blanket. I’m planning to use glass beads which are very tiny, like salt grains, and want to be sure that the grains won’t go through the fabric.

    • Great question, Michele!

      The reverse side of Fireside is woven similar to a knit. Not sure how fine your “glass beads” might be… but you “should” be ok without them coming through. Consider whether your glass beads would work their way through a quilting cotton; if not then you should be just fine using cozy Fireside as your backing.

      If still in doubt, try a test sandwich with a piece of fireside and your glass beads, toss it about and see what happens. Happy stitching!

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