I'd like to make a quilt with a design such as the one in the picture: enter image description here

I understand that normally, when a quilt is just made up of squares or rectangles, you can just stitch a bunch of lines up and down and across it to attach the backing and it will still look good because the geometry doesn't get broken.

However, I'm not so sure that it will work with a design like this. The stray vertical and horizontal lines would look awkward here (I feel like) ... I know that another way is to just stitch again along where all the pieces connect. My question here would be as follows. If the backing is black, would it be better to use black thread to go over along the edges of all the pieces when connecting the backing? This way there wouldn't be an awkward design on the back of the quilt, but there would be ugly black thread on the front. Or, should i use the same color thread as on one of the neighboring pieces? This way the front would still look ok, but the back would have a strange colorful design...

Are there any other (better) ways to do this? Is it possible to not attach the backing at all, other than around the perimeter or would that not work so well?

  • Will you sew the backing on by hand or with a sewing machine?
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 17:40
  • @Stephie definitely sewing machine. I can't imagine how long this would take by hand X.X Though I've never done anything like this before so I don't know if there are some tricks, plus it won't be pretty if i do it by hand XD
    – Raksha
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 19:25
  • 2
    that at least solves your thread colour dilemma: pick black for one thread and a (or multiples) matching one for the other. See the existing answer.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 19:27

4 Answers 4


This is a perfect example for 'depending on your taste'. I agree with you that vertical and horizontal lines don't do justice to the pattern, but then again, others may disagree.
That said, if I were to sew backing, I'd follow (some of) the contours of the cat.

If the backing is black, would it be better to use black thread to go over along the edges of all the pieces when connecting the backing? Or, should i use the same color thread as on one of the neighboring pieces?
If you're sewing with a sewing machine, you can use two different colours of yarn, one for the front, one for the back. When sewing by hand... I'd choose a colour matching the front side for that's the side you see most. And make sure the stitches at the back side are as small as possible so the cat shape would be more apparent than the colour of the thread.

Are there any other (better) ways to do this? Is it possible to not attach the backing at all, other than around the perimeter or would that not work so well?
Depends on the size of the quilt. But since this is a free form quilt pattern, why not attach the backing free form as well? Either by random 'squiggles' or a more regular pattern. Do an internet search for 'quilt free form backing pattern' to get some inspiration. You could also just fill the black background with a free form pattern and follow the outlines of the pieces that form the cat itself. Or use a different (free form) pattern for the cat. The possibilities are endless

  • You know, I thought about using two different colors of string, one for the front, one for the back since I'll be using a sewing machine and I vaguely remember that it's something you could do, but I wasn't sure XD A person from JoAnn Fabrics where I just went to get the materials said that it's not really necessary to attach the backing anywhere other than around the perimeter.
    – Raksha
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 19:23
  • But maybe that's because I'm using fleece, so it's a little thicker that cotton fabrics. I'm just worried about the front and back separating when you use it and it being awkward. I do like the idea of free form backing though :) I might try that, or the two different strings approach :) Thanks!
    – Raksha
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 19:24
  • 1
    Will you be using it as a blanket, or something else that's flat? In that case, you can start with just sewing the outlines, and if you later find that the front and back are indeed separating, you can add stitches where needed.
    – Ji Ugug
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 19:56
  • I'm making a blanket as a present, so I wouldn't really have the chance to fix it later unless they tell me that it's separating and bring it back >.>
    – Raksha
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 20:17

I'd like to recommend an alternate, decorative option.

"Quilting" is specifically the process of stitching together the different layers of fabric to form the finished "quilt". While it's true that many quilts obscure this stitching, some of my favorite quilts emphasize it and have fun with it. I had an animal quilt when I was a baby where different creatures were hidden in the quilting. While this is "easier" to do by hand than with a machine, depending on the type of machine you have, you might be able to do this, at least in simple patterns.

Look at this pillow, which is similar to your design. While it doesn't have hidden animals the way my quilt as a child did, you can see that they've had fun with the quilting and have emphasized it with a lighter color thread and actually made it part of the fun of this pillow.

Cat Friends Pillow
From here.

This may be more work than you're looking to do (provided you don't have one of those fancy quilting sewing machines) but I'd bet it would look really awesome. Since it's a blanket, you could certainly do a larger pattern but it might be an interesting option.

  • 1
    I used to have a quilt where the thread on the back was tan or gold and the back dark navy blue, which made the design's outline stand out out on the back and look very nice. The front was a geometric pattern. I don't know the sewing terms for this, but I think it fits your idea. Matching the outlines of the cat's base shapes would create another cat on the reverse.
    – user24
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 8:11

There is also clear on invisible thread you could use on the top.

By following the lines on the top you "stitch in the ditch" also referred to as SID.

You could also fill in a triangle, for example w/ sequentially smaller and smaller triangles that "echo" the main triangle "ear", shall we say. Or, echo quilt all the shapes by going 1/4" smaller (or whatever you choose) each time.

All of this is called FMQ-ing or Free Motion Quilting. Put that in Google and see the tens of thousands of ideas. SID is frequently done by beginners (which I kind of still am).

  • I thought about sid, but I'm super new at this and I'm not sure how straight I can make it %\ also, won't that tear up the original stitching?
    – Raksha
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 14:31

Your question is a bit confusing--you use the term "backing," which actually refers to the BACK of the quilt--a lining--as well as what is on the front but not the main design, which would be BACKGROUND. The answer is different for the 2 processes. Also, you need to differentiate between PIECING--sewing various sections of fabric together--and QUILTING, which is the sewing done after piecing to hold the 3 layers of front, padding, and backing together. It also depends on how the quilt will be used, how big it will be and the fact that you've never done this before.

If this is to be used in an everyday manner, you will need to QUILT closely on the FRONT or the padding may bunch up when it is laundered. That also means you need to use machine-washable fabric that is pre-washed before you begin piecing the front. If you want a black BACKGROUND surrounding the cat design, it can be pieced to the cat or the cat can be appliqueed onto the background. If you want the QUILTING lines to show up on the FRONT or BACK, use a contrasting color to the color of fabric, which could be any color.

Do you have a pattern? This is not an easy design, even for someone who is experienced with a sewing machine and quilting; it's a lot of difficult, time-consuming piecing and it all must lie flat for the quilt to work. If you want to do a cat's head, I suggest something much simpler, like the illustration in a previous answer. To make it even easier--and doable--make it as a small wall-hanging.

Why don't you pick a 3-4 piece section of the cat, sew it and make it lie flat to see whether you can do this? You need to attach a backing more than just around the edge because the pieced cat is heavier than the backing and the background and will pouch and sag when washed. The fabric may also shrink making the cat look odd. How big will it be? It needs to be quilted every 3-4" at minimum.

  • It is a piecing then I guess, 60x80 inches. I'm using antipill fleece and I was told that I won't need stuffing since it'll already be thick enough (front and back - two pieces). Why do you say that it's a hard design? Seems like all I gotta do is sew in straight lines to connect all the pieces.
    – Raksha
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 6:52
  • Sewing triangles and gettng them right is not easy and your pattern consist of mostly triangles.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 19:05

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