Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Basting Tutorial

Pin It, not a turkey!  But hello to everyone who arrived here by Googling "basting" in hopes of learning how to baste your holiday turkey...

Anyways, there are two methods I use to baste a quilt: pins or basting spray.

I learned to baste using large safety pins but after reading all about basting spray I thought I'd give it a try.  I'm now almost completely converted to spray basting!   There is a lot less crawling around on your hands and knees; it's faster; and in my opinion it is a lot more precise meaning that there aren't puckers in your quilt back after quilting.

But I'll show you both methods and let you pick the one you like the best...

Pin Basting

To baste using pins here's what you need:
  • batting {make sure it measures about 4" larger than your quilt top on all sides}
  • basting pins {these are basically large, curved safety pins} or large safety pins 
  • quilt back {make sure it measures about 4" larger than your quilt top on all sides}
  • masking tape {you will use this to tape your backing to the floor}
Find a large area big enough to spread your quilt out.  A lot of people do this on hardwood floors or some other hard surface like a dining room table.  I don't have a table big enough and it kills my knees to crawl around on hard surfaces so I baste on carpet.  It works fine for me as long as I don't pin the quilt to the carpet... I may or may not have done that a time or two. ;)

Start by making sure your quilt back and your quilt top are pressed and free of wrinkles.  Next, lay the backing on the floor wrong side facing up.  Tape one corner and then work your way around the edges taping your backing to the floor nice and tight.

Now, get your batting out and unroll it over your quilt back. 

*A word about batting: I use Warm & Natural or organic bamboo batting.  The biggest things you want to avoid when buying batting are the words 100% polyester and high loft.  High loft polyester will work it's way out of your quilt over time and will make a nasty mess on your quilt.  If you want an antique looking quilt that crinkles wonderfully after washing, stick with a low loft cotton, bamboo or cotton/poly blend.*

Sorry about the blurry picture!
Smooth out your batting over the quilt back until there are no wrinkles.  Once it looks good to you, lay your quilt top with the right side facing up and again smooth it out until there are no wrinkles.  You are now ready to start pinning!

There are two schools of thought about where to start pinning.  Some quilters pin from the center of the quilt out and some start from one edge and work to the opposite edge of the quilt.  I've done both and I can't find a big difference; I think it comes down to how well you do the first 3 steps and what you are comfortable with.  In this tutorial I will be pinning from one end and will move towards the other.

Start pinning how you prefer and pin every 4"-6".  It's tedious to pin closer together but you will be saving yourself a lot of headaches later i.e a puckered backing.  Pin until you can't pin anymore and then you will have yourself a quilt sandwich!

Trim down the backing and batting if there is excess; this will make moving the quilt through your machine easier.

Spray Basting

*I use June Tailor spray or Dritz spray.  Make sure that the spray basting you buy will not interfere with machine quilting.  Follow the directions on the can when using the spray.*

To spray baste, lay your batting down on the floor first.  Smooth it out until there are no wrinkles. 

This is a good time to tell your dogs, kids and people sensitive to chemicals to leave the area.  Either do your spraying outdoors or in a really well ventilated area.  There will be a little over spray so I usually leave the backing and batting larger and then trim them down after I have finished basting.

 Next, lay your backing down right side up and smooth out the wrinkles. 

Then fold one side of the backing up towards the top of the batting and backing.   According to the directions on the can, spray the exposed batting.  Wait a minute or two and then pull the backing back down and into place.  Smooth out all the wrinkles... the nice thing about spray batting is that you can lift the fabric up again and re-adjust if needed.  Repeat this step with the other half of the backing/batting. 

Once everything is wrinkle free, turn it over so that the backing is directly on the floor and the batting is exposed again.  Lay your quilt top right side facing up over the batting and once again smooth out the wrinkles.  Follow the same steps that you used to attach the backing to the batting, turn the quilt sandwich over to make sure the backing still looks good and then you're done!

You can fold your basted quilt until you are ready to quilt it.  If it sits for longer than a week, the basting spray can lose it's tackiness.  If this happens simply iron both sides of the quilt sandwich with a warm iron to re-activate the spray.


Carolyn said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial! I've never used the basting spray because it seemed a bit daunting...but not having to pin the quilt sure is tempting. I may just have to give it a try.

Pat said...

I love the spray basting, but am a little OCD I guess. I also pin with the spray, just not as much! It makes me feel a lot more comfortable about working with it so much when machine quilting.

Sharon@Sharon at Home said...

I use the spray also ... it is fabulous. No more pinning and basting. They stay together forever it seems and it is so easy to quilt with out pins all over the quilt. LOVE IT!!!

Cara said...

Great tutorial! I am working on my first quilt and it was definitely tricky for me to figure out basting - I had to redo it twice.

Marit said...

Thank you for sharing, Jennifer! This is such an important (and scary) step in the process. Still is, after making a lot of quilts...
; )

snippetsandyarns said...

Thanks for sharing, I needed that! So far, I have always pin basted my quilts, and they have all come out with wrinkles and puckers on the back, usually where two quilting lines cross. I have another blanket coming up before Christmas that will need quilting. I am very happy to get advice on how to baste and quilt without puckers :-)

~ Meagan

Jen said...

I've never pinned a quilt. NEVER! I've always spay-basted and it's the only way I'll ever baste a quilt. I couldn't imagine having to stop every 4-5 inches when I'm quilting to remove pins! Basting is still my LEAST favorite part of quilting...I hate it, but I guess it's gotta be done in order to have a beautiful quilt in the end!

live a colorful life said...

One of the reasons I have resisted quilting my own quilts (other than not really know HOW to quilt my own quilt--haha) is the basting portion. I will definitely try spray basting, especially since apparently you can do it indoors. Thanks, Jennifer!

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

This is sorta how I do mine. I did a tutorial a while back on it. The spray really helps make short work of prep.

SewSara said...

i agree with jen above ... i hate basting!!
i want to try the spray basting though ... i always have pinned and it takes forever!

The Tulip Patch said...

Great tip about using the iron to reactivate your basting spray- I did not know that! I have been a spray girl from day 1. I've used pins when i am too broke or lazy to go buy more spray when I run out, but that's about it. I do mine over a dining room table and I use an iron instead of my hands.

Quiltstory said...

great tutorial! Thanks for linking!

Kim said...

So timely! With this tutorial open on my netbook next to me, I just basted my very first quilt! THANK YOU!! I had been putting it off because I really wasn't sure how to go about it. Now to get the courage up to start quilting it...

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