Tutorial – how to baste a quilt

This is how I baste/pin my quilt sandwich. I am writing this tutorial because in the class we tend to hurry this process because it looks quite simple but it is very important to take time to make a good sandwich and I think it is bit more than simple.
I use my class tables when making quilt sandwich because I don’t want to remove tables to make a bigger space on the floor and it is easier for my back. I gather them around in the middle of the studio. They are not quite wide enough for full bed size quilt but too long on the other side.
Before the process, I press a backing fabric and top and remove creases and wrinkles and check if there are any twisted seam allowance (they sneak in, don’t they?). Yep, And fix them if I find.
1 – Place the backing fabric.
Secure one corner and lightly stretch two neighbouring corners and secure them. I use clamps on the edge of tables for securing backing fabric. Those clamps are made of plastic and super cheap.
Pull the last corner. If there is any twisted stretch or too much pull, creases will appear. Change the position of corners to remove them. Sometime releasing the pull is better than pull. The backing fabric should lie flat. Secure the fabric in several places. I use masking tape too where clamps can’t get.
backing fabric
2 – Spread the wadding.
From one side of wadding spread it out. You can move wadding by sliding your hand over it.
I use Warm and Natural cotton wadding. According to the manufacture, the top side of wadding is slightly messy side and the clean smoother whiter side, the one with scrim is the bottom. I place them accordingly unless top is very pale. If there is a lot of white on the top, I use Warm and White, bleached white one.wadding side
The Warm and Natural is made of organic unbleached cotton.Hence it has a lot of cotton hulls. I remove some very big offending ones with tweezers.
cotton hulls
3 –  Place the top
Again starting from one side, place the top leaving 1-2 inch extra of backing and wadding. I make this side straight first. I go low down to see if the line of border is straight. In the photo, I am looking at light purple line which is still crooked here. By sliding hands on quilt, make it straight as much as possible.
starting top
This one looks better, isn’t it?
startign top straighter
Make two corner of that border square an then make next two borders straight. I mean no crooked lines (actually in this photo it looks bit crooked…) .
startign second line
Make all the sashing straight and corners square. If any lumpiness appears, don’t push it out! Keep it in between straight sashings and try to even it out in between sashings. If you pieced them right, you shouldn’t have!
placed right
I can spend a loooong time doing this.
4 – Baste/pin them!
I use safety pins. I have a lot of them but not quite enough to pin every 4″ on this king size. So I only pin along all the sashing, in this case light purple shelves because I need them to remain straight. Once I stitch in ditch along sashing, I remove pins and place them where I quilt next.
When you pin them, don’t pick up quilt. If you do it, all the effort you put in above might get lost. Just slide pin and use a spoon or tool to pick the tip and close it. I use my poor index finger tip. If I don’t bleed, I am fine with it.

Once I finish the first part on the table, I have to move a whole sandwich to pin the remain, hoping not distorting the first half.
That’s my way of fussy pinning quilt sandwich. But I believe if I don’t make quilt top straight at this point, there will be something wonky and I won’t be happy.
By the way, this quilt top is one I made with Irish modern quilting bee and put it on hold a long time. Thank you ladies for all the blocks. Now finally I am quilting it 🙂




One Comment

Julie Fukuda
April 1, 2016 12:14 pm

I think a table is a great resource. I usually end up doing this on the floor and crawling on top is not helpful as sometimes the tape on the backing comes loose. One of my friends has basted using a board and gradually wrapping the tacked pieces. I have not tried that but it works for her. I usually use “thinsulate” made by M&N. It is rather tacky and works better if you have extra hands to lift and adjust the top. In basting our Gala quilt we had many hands and several large tables and the results were wonderful. Then we basted with thread … nice for working with because the quilting was easier without pins to grab the thread