I think I'm one of the world's biggest fans of old sheets as quilt backing. They're a whole lot cheaper than yardage. They're (mostly) big enough to do a back without seams. And some of them are really pretty. If you're patient, you're bound to find a perfect backing for whatever you're working on. I keep my eye out for colors I know I'm likely to use for an upcoming project.
I've read cautions against using sheets as quilt backings, but after washing and abusing these quilts for the past couple of years, I haven't had any trouble that can be blamed on the sheets. I've quilted them on my Janome and on my mother's longarm. I don't hand quilt, not yet at least, so I can't offer any opinions there.
(Yes, that is Duct Tape on the top quilt. No, I don't know why it's there -- ask my sons. If you know how to get the residue off, please let me know!)
If you're buying old sheets at the thrift store, make sure to unfold them and check them for damage -- fading...rips...cigarette burns (ugh!) The centers of some sheets can be worn thin, so watch for that, too.
Figure out how much it would cost to back you quilt with the cheapest yardage you're likely to buy. Then compare that amount to the price of the sheet you're considering. What at first seemed like way too much can actually be a decent deal if you consider what you'd be spending otherwise. Especially if it's the perfect color or pattern.
I'm not suggesting that you back a top pieced from expensive quilt shop fabric with an old sheet. But for scrappy quilts, they can be the perfect option. Often, I've got more invested in the sheet I use for the backing than the top of the quilt! It can be a great solution for tops that started out as an experiment, that I don't want to sink much more money into.
Want to win a set of vintage sheets? Go to my last post to enter. For more Works for me Wednesday posts, visit We are THAT family.