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Basting Blues

Dear Deb,

I’ve just finished piecing my second quilt and am ready to start basting. I have it all sandwiched together ready but I’m nervous about starting. On my last quilt I made an awful mess when I got to the basting stage, and I don’t want to ruin all my hard work. Fortunately, it was my “practice” and I need to do a better job on this one.

 Basting Blues


Dear Basting,

Well, you won’t be the first and you won’t be the last to have this happen. You’re so proud of your creation and then, almost before you know it, it’s all wrinkled and bumpy looking! All I can do is share my own method with you and hope that helps. I’m sure that others will write in as well, so you’ll end up with several methods for this stage of the game.

I pin my layers together with quilters’ safety pins. These are different to regular pins, they have a curve in them, which makes it easier to get the point through the sandwich and back up to the top again. Most quilters recommend laying your quilt out on the floor so that it keeps smooth, but I have a secret tip here:

Get your dining chairs and spread them out around the room, with the backs forming a square, then get your cutting boards or some hardboard and lay these across the back of the chairs – in effect you are making a big table. Lay your quilt sandwich on this ‘table’ and pin. You’ll find it much easier pinning at waist height than sprawling around on the floor! Ooh, I almost forgot – it’s important that you start pinning at the center of the quilt and work your way outwards, that way any potential wrinkles are pushed to the edges!

There is also a technique that is referred to as "board basting". Our friends over at Right Sides Together posted an incredible article outlining the method. You can find it as well as a video tutorial here

There are several good books that can help you as well.  One of my favorites is The Complete Guide to Machine Quilting. This book will show you how you can get the most out of your sewing machine while quilting, from working easily with different weights of batting and fabric, to great time-saving tricks, and how to add a cornucopia of decorative stitching effects. You will find it here.

Just remember that all of this is a learning experience and the more practice you have the better you get at it! And be sure and take advice from your quilting buddies. Does anyone else have a basting tip or trick they want to share? Please leave it in comments below!

Until we meet again, may your days be pieceful!




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