My background is ecru Kona cotton -- I buy Kona cotton by the bolt in ecru, white, and black, so I've got tons and use it whenever I need plain fabrics in a project. Some say it's too heavy, but I haven't had any problems, even with tricky blocks with tiny pieces, like Papa's Star.
I'm not sure whether you've visited the Newbie Info page on the Dear Jane Web site, but Brenda Papadakis says this about the quantity of background fabric needed:
How much background do I need?
In the book , I suggest 5 yards for the entire quilt. This is an error on my part. If you are hand-piecing, you will need about 8 yards. If you are machine piecing, I recommend about 15 yards. However, if you are foundation piecing, you will need about twenty.
I am currently making 2 dear jane quilts. One with civil war repros in which I am using different repro and shirtings for the background to give it an old look. The other is batik fabrics with a navy blue background. They both work great in my opinion.
Hi everyone - getting into the idea of doing a Dear Jane quilt and am presently thinking about background fabric. I have got quite a bit of civil war repro fabric that I have been collecting for the blocks, and am wondering what others are using for their background. Are you sticking with the same fabric, ie (I believe) 8 yards of the same, or using different fabrics in the same shade? Has anybody tried using a darker background fabric?