Basting Help

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Dani Posted: Fri, Aug 23 2013 11:23 AM

Hello Ladies,
As you may know, i'm VERY new to quilting, and with my last few projects, have tried machine quilting however i'm having a difficult time finding a basting method that works for larger quilts. For wall hangings and small projects I use the basting spray (which I think is great), but it doesnt work as well for lap size quilts or larger. I have basting pins (curved safety pins) which I have tried, but I run into the problem of the backing puckering up so i'm not sure if i'm just not doing it properly or if thats a common problem. I have also tried thread basting, and run into the same problem....the backing moves and becomes folded, or puckered. The only thing i've done that has worked, is basted small sections at a time, and used my hands to hold the backing taut while top gives me terrible aches in my hands! Also, I use normal pins and run into sticking myself frequently with that method...nobody wants a quilt with blood-stains.

Any advice you wise women can share would be greatly appreciated!!!

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gini replied on Fri, Aug 23 2013 11:41 AM

hey dani, i'm sorry i misspelled your name earlier.

you need to stretch, very slightly and secure the back before you add the batt and top.   this can be done in several ways.  when i was young i did it on the floor.   i taped, with masking tape, two adjacent corners corners of the back to the floor, slightly stretching the backing until it was smooth on the floor, readjusting the tapes as needed. then i worked down the sides of the back taping one side then the other making sure it was smooth as i go.   i don't want to give the impression that the back is stretched tautly.   i put just enough tension on it to smooth it out. 

this step can also be done on a wall if you have a big enough wall.  i wall baste these days, gravity is a big help.

next lay your batt out on the back and smooth it out.   i tape this to the floor or wall, too but not nearly as secure as the back, i'm just holding it down, keeping it smooth. 

  then you smooth the top over it  making sure to work out any wrinkles.   at this point you baste.   

you can use pins, thread, or pinmoors, which i love. 

you can also baste on a table.   it needs to be wide enough to hold the width of the quilt.   you can secure the back with clips, or tape  work the center first, then work your way to one end then the other.  if you can get to a church or other entity that has a hall with big table they will let you use you can put several table together and do the full length. 

and used my hands to hold the backing taut while top gives me terrible aches in my hands
 the back needs to be taut when you baste it. 

i hope this is clear enough for you.   if you have more questions, just ask.

gini in north idaho

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Nana replied on Fri, Aug 23 2013 12:49 PM


I do my basting on a table.  But I don't have tables big enough to hold the whole quilt.   As these ladies will tell you I actually make tents....LOL>    I do make a lot of oversize kings.   I will find the middle of my backing and lay that at the middle of my table.  Smooth it out and stretch slightly and then I use clamps to hold it securely in place.  I then lay the batting out and smooth it.  Then the quilt top.   Once everything is in place I start removing the clamps one at a time and reclamp the entire quilt sandwich in place.   I then pin that section.   Then I move the quilt sandwich over, smooth everything and reclamp.    I continue this process until I have pinned my entire quilt sandwich.

Vinton, Virginia

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Patti replied on Fri, Aug 23 2013 9:41 PM

gee Barbara, getting back to the sewing machine and trying not to overdo it is like trying to stop at one potato chip.


Chiliwist Valley

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Stephanie replied on Sun, Aug 25 2013 10:32 AM

I use basting spray for large quilts. I lay the backing, batting, and top all out on the ground. I roll the top from each side to the center. I start the spray baste in the center in a line from one side to the other and roll and smooth. I repeat until I'm all the way down on one side, and start the other. Then I flip it and do the back. It's a lot of work, hard on the back and knees,  but keeps everything in place while I'm FMQ'ing it.   

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Lynn replied on Thu, Aug 29 2013 10:35 AM

Just to add to Gini's using the wall for layering a large quilt for the ease of gravity.  When weather permits I take my quilt outside.  I use thumb tacks to get the backing taunt on our wood fence.  I don't push the tacks in all the way as it makes it much easier to them once the quilt is pin basted.  Smaller quilts I've done the same thing on our wood great for me and I get to enjoy my gardens at the same time.


Calgary, Alberta

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Flojo replied on Fri, Aug 30 2013 6:32 PM

When I had carpet on the floors I used T pins to secure the backing to the floor and hold it taut using the same method as you would use tape on a wood floor .  I then added  the batting and top and crawled around on my hands and knees using safety pins to baste.  This was before they had the curved pins made just for basting!  I used a spoon to help close them so I wouldn't wear out me fingers.  This does not work if the carpet has any loops at all in it as you will pin the quilt to the carpet!  Been there done that! LOL

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ls2116 replied on Thu, Sep 5 2013 6:08 PM

I always use safety pins and sandwhich on wood floor because its my largest available space.  What kind of batting are you using because poly and thickness of it make a difference i've found.

Quilting My Rainbow

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