Basting Away

Here’s an update on my scrap quilt. As I mentioned last week, I had the 25 blocks and three of the borders completed. I really wanted to have it finished in time to show you a completed quilt this week, but that didn’t happen. I am still in the process of quilting it on my regular domestic machine, a Pfaff 2144.

Speaking of quilts, we had a question on our website about basting quilts so I’m going to walk you through my process.

Ideally, the first step is to unfold the batting the day before and lay it out flat so the wrinkles disappear, but I’ll confess. I seldom do this. However, 10 or 15 minutes in the dryer on low heat with a damp washcloth usually removes most of the wrinkles. I almost always use cotton batting, so I don’t know how putting other types of batting in the dryer would work as far as removing wrinkles.

Next I press the quilt top and the backing fabric. I pay special attention to getting the seams nice and flat. If the seams don’t cooperate, I use steam or a little spray starch.

scrap quilt 1 2012 002 1024x768 Basting AwayThe third step is the tricky part. I lay the quilt back right side down on a large, flat surface. At my real home, I have two 8-foot folding tables side by side. In my apartment where I took this photo, I used the floor in the main living area. I had to move two pieces of furniture to get enough space to lay it all flat but that seems like an easy enough way to make it work. I use strips of 2-inch wide masking tape to secure the quilt back to the surface that I am working on. I pull it snug and completely smooth, no wrinkles allowed.

Next I place the batting smooth with no wrinkles. This step may take several minutes of patting and coaxing to get rid of any fold marks that remain in the batting.

Now place the quilt top right side up to complete the sandwich. I am careful with this step to be sure there are no wrinkles and the seams are flat and smooth.

Finally it’s time to pin. I begin in the middle and work to the edge doing one quarter of the quilt at a time. I pin baste using #2 safety pins. I have absolutely no patience for pins that aren’t sharp. If I get a pin that won’t easily pierce the quilt sandwich, it goes in the trash. I don’t want a dull pin making a hole or snagging my fabric. I use a really scientific method to place the pins. I use my hand as a measuring tool. When I begin, I place the first pin, then lay my hand down and place the next pin the width of my hand away. I just measured for you and it’s about 4½” or 5”. I stagger the pins. For example, if the block is a 10” block, there will be a pin at all 4 corners and another pin in the middle of the block.

When the entire quilt is pinned, I remove the masking tape and turn the quilt over to make sure there are no wrinkles or tucks in the backing fabric. If the back looks good, I am done basting and ready to begin quilting. If there are wrinkles or tucks, I take out that section and tape and pin again.

Oh, and by the way, do you see the mistake in my quilt? It’s a big enough “oops” that it shows in the photo. I always say that if we don’t point out our mistakes, people rarely see them. But I thought it would be fun for all of you to check it out. And I don’t mind admitting that I screwed up on this quilt. It’s just a fun scrappy quilt. It will still be a treasure for whoever I give it to and they won’t mind a bit that it isn’t perfect.

Now, on another note, we spent part of the day yesterday taping for Quilters Newsletter TV: The Quilters’ Community. Taping is always fun for me, and yesterday we did three episodes. One was a discussion with editors of two of our sister magazines: Beth Hayes from McCall’s Quilting and Carolyn Beam from Quiltmaker. The second was a technique episode with me talking about speed sewing. The third was a look behind the scenes at Quilters Newsletter. We tape quite a while awhile in advance, but when those episodes are available for free viewing, I know you’ll enjoy them.

The episode currently airing is one with my friend, ZJ Humbach talking about auditioning thread for quilting. She has hints that will help you with that process no matter if you quilt by domestic machine, with a long arm or by hand. Enjoy!

About Lori Baker

Lori is the creative editor at Quilters Newsletter.
This entry was posted in Lori Baker, Staff Quilts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Basting Away

  1. jane says:

    Love your quilt! I found the boo-boo, but only after you brought it up and after careful searching. I spray basted a quilt on the floor two days ago and my thighs are so sore I can hardly walk! Guess I need more exercise!

  2. Victoria Dunbrack says:

    I love the blues in your quilt – don’t worry about the “mistake” because as you say if you had not pointed out that there was one at all no one would have noticed – especially in a scrappy string. I do so enjoy your blog and newsletter. Keep it coming.

  3. JoAnne T. says:

    I love your pretty blue quilt. Doesn’t it scratch the floor when you pin? Years ago I went to a workshop by Jill Schumacher. She showed us how easy it is to pin baste a large quilt on a 3 feet wide table. That’s what I do now, no bending, kneeling, etc. for me. I sit in a chair at the table to pin. You just have to get the center of the quilt onto the center of the table and pin from the middle out. Works great every time! I make about 50 throw size quilts a year and basting is not a problem.

    Isn’t that a planned mistake? Makes for more interest, I think!

  4. paula says:

    What mistake?…such a pretty quilt.

  5. Lori says:

    Thanks to all of you. JoAnne, I wouldn’t pin baste on anything but a carpeted floor because you are right, the pins could scratch the surface of a hard surfaced floor. And I must admit, I much prefer basting in my real home where I can sit in a chair to baste, rather than crawl on the floor.

  6. BonnieBurrough says:

    I’ve had no formal training in quilting, but sure have fun trying to make them. Like you said, the mistakes are not normally noticed by the ones you give them to. (My grandkids, greatgrandkids and now one great-great grandbaby could not care less if there are mistakes). (I did not find your mistake in the above quilt).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>