Choosing Backing Fabric For a T-Shirt Quilt or Memory Quilt

Backing Fabric for A T-Shirt Quilt

You have been collecting tshirts for as long as you can remember.  You have them from the hospital where you were born, grade school and high school.  The sports teams or clubs you were in during high school.  You get to college and you have concert and sorority shirts.   What do you do?

The obvious answer is t-shirt quilt.  There are lots of t-shirt quilt makers out there, but with the hundreds of results how to you select the quilt maker that won't deliver a complete mess of your tshirts.  How do you select a t-shirt quilt maker?  

Backing Material

The backing material is the fabric that is seen on the bottom side of a quilt.  At Shadywood Quilts we stock quilt shop quality fabrics in a variety of colors to select that perfect fabric for your quilt. We don't use 'solid color' fabrics as they have a horrible tendency to show lint, pet hair, dust and just everyday use. We use fabrics commonly referred to as 'tone-on-tone'.   These are fabrics that add visual 'texture' and 'depth' to a quilt without adding the more cluttered look of a multi-color print or the FLAT color of a solid fabric.  The professional quilting shows up beautifully on both the front and the back of the quilt. You want the star of the quilt to be your tees, not the quilting.

Well, one of the important elements of a GOOD QUALITY t-shirt quilt is the material used for the back side of the quilt.  PLEASE do your research before selecting a quilter.  The old adage about getting what you pay for is true.  

Listed below are some of the options you will see offered on different websites.

Backing options:

Ask your quilt maker.  

Download our Free Checklist to compare quilt makers.

tone on tone fabricThe term tone on tone refers to a printed fabric that is made by combining different shades and tones of the same color. Tone on tone fabrics often appear to be solid when viewed from a distance, but their printed motifs become recognizable on closer inspection.  Tone on tone fabrics  add subtle, visual texture to a quilt without the busyness of a multi-color print.

Personally, tone-on tone fabrics do not appear as 'flat' as solids. Quilt makers using 'solids*' are using these fabrics to cut costs. We want YOU to have the best experience having your quilt made with us.

** Black is the exception for using solid fabrics, we do use a deep, dark saturated black as an accent border. However, we advise using this solid fabric for a backing, unless you want to see every cat or dog hair in your home showing up on the back!



Binding is the fabric that is sewn around the outside of a t-shirt quilt. You will see about ½" of the binding from the top, side and back of a quilt. Bindings are used to enclose the raw edges of the three layers of the quilt (quilt top, batting and backing materials). Generally, the binding fabric used is the same fabric as used on the back and/or border of the quilt.

CHOOSE your t-shirt quilt maker.  A free comparison chartBinding is the difference between a poorly done 'blanket' and a well done 'quilt'.

Note: We do not use white for binding because it is difficult to keep clean while we are working with it and it will show all the dirt as you use it. White will quickly become  dirty or grungy looking.

Check out our FREE Comparison checklist to take notes when comparing to other quilt makers.

At Shadywood Quilts we only use the highest quality quilt shop fabrics.  We are quilt-makers and the quality of YOUR finished quilt is very important to us.

Originally posted July 18, 2016, revised Sept 2022