I know it sounds as though I am working all the time, and there is some truth to that — I am working tomorrow as quiltback 002 well — but I did get a little bit of crafting done yesterday: the back of the Provencal table runner. Here it is pictured with the front, as a reminder.

Just in case my table runner has not been in the forefront of your mind all week.

The red one is the front. Now, the thing is that the design here is from a Thimbleberries book (Quilting for the Harvest), and it is very distinctly an American style. It is even an American use of color. I like it, but it doesn’t showcase the French-style fabrics the way a French-style quilt would.

French quilting is generally whole-cloth, and occasionally uses banding. So, since I did not have enough of any of the fabrics to do a whole-cloth backing, I did a banded one for the back.

quiltback 004Quilters are wondering what’s going on here. We are talking about the back of the quilt, right?

The back of a quilt is normally muslin, like this old quilt.

Occasionally a coordinating print, like this rather newer one.

quiltback 003  

 But with table runners, I am always tempted to make them reversible.

A bed quilt is not likely to be reversed, after all. The back needs to look nice, for when you turn it down or just for the self-respect of the quilter, but you would have no reason to want to make it reversible. If you are going to go to all the trouble to make a whole nother quilt top, you should get a whole nother quilt for the trouble.

Table runners are not like that. I have said before that they are the scarves of the quilting world, and I stand by that: they are relatively quick, inexpensive, and simple. And mine tend to be seasonal, so I only use them for a few weeks and then they spend the rest of the year packed away. Why not make them reversible and extend their usefulness?

quiltback 005 I did that with this one.

This is my Thanksgiving table runner, with a bit of rudimentary piecing on the back in vegetable prints, which I like to use in the summer.

But it also shows the reason that you can’t generally make quilts reversible: the quilting interferes.

I couldn’t do proper quilting of the vegetable side without messing up the Thanksgiving side.

So making your table runner reversible means that completed runner your quilting will have to be planned with exceptional cleverness and subtlelty to complement both sides.

The runner at the right is one I made for #1 daughter. It was wet when I took the picture, but perhaps you can still see that it has a plain central panel with elaborate hand quilting. The back is solid mauve — there is one triangle of that shade in the upper right hand corner.  #1 daughter told me recently that she uses the back because she prefers it to the pieced side. So I guess that is a reversible one.

So anyway, I am trying the reversible bit again. I will plan the quilting of the pieced front so that it will look nice on the banded back. This will add an extra challenge to the thing.

Traditional French quilting tends toward close rows of quilting in semi-circular and diamond patterns. Since they don’t have a history of piecing, they naturally do not have much focus on bringing out the piecing, the way we do with our patchwork quilts.

I am not going for authenticity here, fortunately. I will probably end up with a hybrid.