Wednesday 6 August 2014

Free Motion QAL - My Slacker Basting Method

Welcome to the third week in the Free Motion QAL! Today I'll be talking about how I baste my quilts (which is nothing special, but it's quick and it works), and pointing you to some other really great basting tutorials. There is a linky at the end of the post if you would like to share your progress so far (fabric choices or part made quilt tops are totally fine!)

I must apologise for the dodgy photos in this post - the space I use for basting is really poorly lit so they are pretty bad, but hopefully it will be enough to convey my basting method (if you can call it that). I am a pin baster - so all the tips I'll be giving you relate to pin basting rather than using an adhesive spray. 

To pin baste your quilt, the first thing you need is a flat, hard surface. All the areas in our house that are big enough for basting a quilt are carpeted - so to get around that, I use a couple of really big sheets of MDF board that I place on the floor. They were really inexpensive from our local hardware store (plus my geeky man plays Warhammer fantasy battle, so they double as gaming tables - hence the rivers drawn on here!) If you have kids, they are perfect for zooming cars around on too! And yes, we have exquisite salmon coloured carpet in our rumpus room...

Once I've pieced my quilt back, I place it straight onto the boards, lining one of the edges up with the edge of the boards so I know it is straight - and as you can see I don't iron my back especially well (see, lazy!) This has honestly never been a problem for me though - I very rarely get folds in my quilt backs.

It's a little hard to see the tape here, but I tape down that edge of the fabric that is aligned with the edge of the board, smoothing it as I go.

Then, by gently tugging the far edge, I pull the fabric so it is really flat. As you can see from the photo below, all those little bumps from the first photo have disappeared. If I have space I will tape that far edge down as well, but more often than not I don't bother.

Then it is simply a matter of layering the batting on top. I buy batting on large rolls, so initially I roll the batting over the backing fabric and cut it to size. I start in the centre of the quilt back and use large sweeping motions with my hands to smooth the batting across. If I feel any bumps of backing fabric as I go, I gently tug the backing fabric so the bumps disappear, and keep smoothing the batting down. I normally cut my batting so it is about an inch bigger than the backing fabric all around - no particular reason for this, but it seems to work!

Finally, I lay my quilt top over the top of the backing and batting. I align one of the sides with the edge of the board, making sure it is in an inch or two from where the backing fabric is, and spread the rest of the quilt top out from that side (so the grain of the backing fabric will be running in the same direction as the quilt top). Then it is simply a matter of smoothing the quilt top in large sweeping motions, starting at the centre of the quilt top and working my way out.

To pin baste, I start in the centre seam and place a pin every 4-6". For the Giant Chevron, I am pinning on every horizontal and vertical seam, and half way between these as well (so roughly every 4.5").

So there you have it - my slacker basting method. If you don't have a large floor space available for basting, Pat at Color Me Quilty has a really fabulous tutorial on using a table top and board for basting quilts which is worth thinking about. 

I would love to see where you are all at with your quilts, so if you'd like to link (to a blog post or Flickr photo or IG photo) please link up below :o)

I will be back in two weeks to talk about stitching in the ditch, so you have plenty of time to keep working on your quilt and get it basted :o) And then we will start the real fun!!

xx Jess


Renee said...

At our old house we had a big, mostly empty carpeted room, which was mostly for my quilting. At first I basted on the brick floor downstairs, but it was so hard on the knees! I start basting on the carpet, with great success! Instead of taping the backing down I used pins to pin it into the carpet, and I could always tell if my basting pins when all the way through when I could feel them catch the carpet--then I'd back then off a smidge and fasten. At the new house we have all wood floors and I really miss the carpets (and that huge room) for basting!

DianeY said...

I do it the same way, though with the backing taped on a wood floor. I use my 6 X 24 inch ruler to sweep over the top to flatten though. I find it really effective, fast & easier than using my hands

Benta AtSLIKstitches said...

Great method x

Pat Merkle said...

Thanks for letting folks know about my basting method. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's FMQ!

Mystic Quilter said...

Marvellous idea using the two boards on the floor, now I probably could get down onto the floor but not up again so I went along to the link you gave us for Pat at Color me Quilty - thanks so much for including that link - just what I have been looking for and will be using this method from now on!!

Anonymous said...

So this sounds great but how do you get the large sheets of MDF home without a truck...