Spray Basting – Will it Work for Me? #2

Well? I’ve left hanging the ‘Spray Basting – Will it Work  for Me?’ question for several weeks. The spray basted quilt sandwich lay on the back of my sewing room sofabed for all that time. So, first off, I can confirm the spray baste was still holding the layers together and hadn’t made the sandwich stiff or affected the fabrics in any visible way (not part of my original investigation but you know how project schedules can drift 😁 ).

To quilt the spray basted sandwich I used my Pfaff sewing machine that has a built-in walking foot. I choose to quilt one of my favourite designs, a curved grid. I used a Hera marker to create the initial shallow curvy lines across the quilt in two directions. Then I set the quilt guide 2″ from the needle before echo stitching the curved lines.

The quilting went well. There were just a few occasions when I needed to work hard to prevent puckers forming where stitching lines crossed. As you can see the fabric still moved a bit and looks slightly puffed up in places but on the whole I’m pleased with the outcome.

What I learned about spray basting vs. pin basting:

  • Spray basting is quicker – no surprise there!
  • Spray basting is reliant on favourable weather conditions (it’s not always dry with a light breeze when a quilt needs basting!).
  • Quilting a spray basted quilt sandwich is easier than a pin basted one (none of that stopping to remove pins). I imagine this is even more of an advantage when free motion quilting.
  • My needle didn’t gum-up (I was using Odif 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray).
  • Spray basting worked great for a Beginner’s Course student whose arthritic fingers would have struggled to use safety pins.

My quilt needs to be bound and then it will have to be washed to remove the spray. I don’t usually wash quilts as soon as I finish them so that’s an added step to be considered in the spray basting vs. pin basting debate.

In answer to my basic question, “… will the fabrics bubble and pucker when I quilt them together or will spray basting stop the layers shifting over each other more effectively than basting with pins?” I conclude spray basting is more effective at holding the three layers together. But fabric will still get pushed around by the pressure of the machine foot, the stitches drawing the fabrics together, and (however carefully done) the ‘smooshing’ of the quilt bulk through the throat space of a sewing machine.

I’m not completely converted from pins to spray. I still have qualms about using aerosols and the cost is a deterrent. However, I would choose to use spray baste for some projects: for speed (only if the weather’s favourable!); to make quilting easier (if I wanted to concentrate on getting in the flow with fmq and not be distracted by pins); for smaller ‘utility’ quilts that will be used and washed frequently.

Foot Note I did try modifying my pin basting technique after Laura sent a link to her post sharing her method. I used Laura’s method to baste the bright version of the Trip Around the Stars quilt. As usual I smoothed and clamped the backing face down to a table, then gently smoothed the wadding over but after centring the patchwork face up on top I followed Laura’s recommendation and didn’t clamp it to the table. Instead I started pinning from the centre and gently smoothed the patchwork out as I went, being careful not to stretch or pull it taut.

As you can see fabrics did shift a little during quilting. But as with the spray basted quilt I did manage to prevent puckers and pleats even where quilting lines crossed. I will be interested to see how this revised method of pin basting works on a larger quilt.

There we are, I haven’t discovered a conclusive victor in the spray basting vs pin basting debate. I am willing to continue tweaking both  methods in the hope of settling on a technique that at least causes less frustration even if it can not provide the perfect answer.

Thank you to those of you who left tips and techniques in the comments after my first Spray Basting post. If you have any tried and tested basting tips or techniques please do share in the comments box below. Thank you!

Linking with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. Click over to see Kelly’s selection from last weeks linkup.

Allison

 

Trying Out Spray Basting

 

I’m on another quilty mission! This time I’m trying out spray basting as an alternative to my usual pin basting method. I’ve chosen to ‘mash up’ the spray basting techniques used by two successful quilt designer/tutors, Christa Watson of Christa Quilts and Emily Dennis of Quilty Love.

I own to having been reluctant to go down the spray basting route: 1. Using aerosols of any kind is becoming less acceptable as we try to do our individual bit to save the planet; 2. Spraying sticky, potentially toxic stuff in my home isn’t very appealing; 3. Spray baste is more expensive than pins and can’t be reused; 4 There could be issues such as the glue affecting stitch quality by gumming up needles; 5. The finished quilt will need to be washed to remove the glue.  BUT despite all these objections to spray basting and despite my best efforts to perfect the pin basting technique – I nearly always have some issues with fabric ‘bubbling’ and/or puckering – I find myself about to embark on a spray basting mission of discovery!

Here are links to the spray basting blog and video tutorials by both Christa Watson and Emily Dennis.

Christa Watson – Spray Basting Tutorial Using a Table – outdoors on blog.

Chrsita Watson – Spray Basting Video Tutorial Using a Design Wall – You Tube. Christa also talks through the table basting method in this video.

Emily Denis – go to her blog to read her ‘How to spray baste a quilt’ tutorial and to find the link to her video tutorial of the same.

Both Christa and Emily recommend using Odif 505 Temporary Adhesive for fabric. I’ve invested in the small, 250ml, can for this spray basting trial.

My Spray Basting Mash-Up:

Step 1: Cut backing and wadding 3″ larger all round than finished quilt top. Press quilt top and backing.

Step 2: Set up a table outdoors. Cover with an old sheet to protect the table and surrounding area from spray. There was a moderate breeze blowing on the day I spray basted, I used clothes pegs to keep the old sheet in place. As well as protecting the table from the sticky spray the secured sheet helped to keep the quilt top and backing in place despite the breeze.

Step 3: Spray baste the wrong side of the quilt backing. Emily’s post has photos giving a clear indication of how much spray to use.

Quilt backing right side down on the protective sheet.

Step 4: Take the quilt backing indoors and spread flat on a hard floor. Use masking tape to secure the backing to the floor.

Step 5: Fold the wadding in half width ways. Position the folded wadding across the centre of the backing, covering one half of the backing. Line up edges before carefully smoothing out wrinkles from the centre to the edges. Unfold the wadding to cover the other half of the backing. Continue smoothing the wadding from the centre outwards. I used my hands to do this but I’m sure Christa’s technique of using the edge of a ruler could be employed at this stage.

Step 6: Lay the quilt top face down on the outside table. Spray baste the back of the quilt top.

Step 7: Fold the quilt top in half width ways and use the same method as in Step 5 to adhere the quilt top to the wadding. I used quilting rulers to check the edges and corners stayed square and were not pushed out of shape.

Step 8: Take the basted quilt sandwich to your ironing board/pressing table. Use a hot, dry iron to press the backing – working from the centre to the outside edges of each section. Turn the sandwich over to press the quilt top using the same technique, pressing from the centre to the edges. Pressing did not leave my sandwich completely flat however it did gather small amounts of excess fabric that could be pushed by the iron to the edge of the fabric and flattened.

So that’s how I’ve basted my latest quilt sandwich. Now the proof is in the pudding (I suppose a sweet jam sandwich could be a sort of pudding?) – will the fabrics bubble and pucker when I quilt them together or will spray basting stop the layers shifting over each other more effectively than basting with pins? I will report back shortly in #2 of ‘Spray Basting: Will it work for me?’

In the meantime, if you have a preference for either pin basting or spray basting or have any quilt basting tips and techniques please do share in the comments box below. Thank you!

Allison

My apologies for the lack of Saturday Quilting Bring & Share posts – normal service will be resumed this week. Two weeks ago we weighed up the risks and decided to go to a conference. Despite everyone testing negative for Covid before attending, the virus was present and we brought it home with us 🙄 Thankfully the vaccines have spared us any serious symptoms. Now we are recovering from the illness but choosing to follow the guidelines means we are stuck in our own socially distancing lockdown. Thank goodness for the arrival of unseasonal warm Spring sunshine to give us the bonus of being able to step outside whenever we want to.

 

Pin Basting Methods

The three layers of a quilt sandwich are temporarily held together, basted, to keep them in place during the process of quilting. I think it’s safe to say most quilters find basting a tedious necessity.

I choose to pin baste, with varying degrees of success, and have tried several different ways of smoothing and fastening the layers. Earlier this week I discovered my latest session of pin basting had been spectacularly unsuccessful. I’d used a walking foot to quilt three wavy lines of stitches down the length of a quilt sandwich. The quilt top was definitely rippling as I stitched but I tried to quieten the alarm bells ringing in my head with the thought that if I continued quilting lines in the same direction the layers would ‘settle’ and all would be well. What?!? I finally checked the back of the quilt sandwich and the chill grip of reality closed around me…. I would have to unpick 180 inches of stitching, about 2,500 stitches, remove the basting pins and start again…

Unpicking is a slow process allowing plenty of time for thinking. I thought of the quote often attributed to Albert Einstein:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I resolved to do a bit of research into pin basting methods before re-basting my quilt sandwich, intending to apply what I’d learn and do things differently so as not to be proved insane.

Here is a summary of my research into pin basting. I read many more blog tutorials and watched, in part at least, many more YouTube videos than there are links listed below but I hope those selected will provide you with a good lead into solving the mystery of successful pin basting  🙂

I’ve divided my pin basting research results into three categories: on the floor; on a table; and board basting..

Pin Basting On the Floor:

How to Pin Baste a Quilt by We All Sew – carpet or hard surface. This method involves initially pinning the outside edges of a quilt backing to a carpet or taping it to a hard floor. Then smoothing on the batting before smoothing the quilt top down onto the batting and pinning the edges to to the carpet. Once the edges of the layers are secured pin basting begins.

  • Handy tip: Use the long edge of a quilting ruler to sweep across the quilt top in all directions to smooth out wrinkles before pinning it.

Successfully layering and basting a quilt by Generations Quilt Patterns. This method details taping backing to a hard floor before smoothing on batting and then smoothing and taping the quilt top.

  • Handy tip: After taping down test there is no excess fabric in the backing by running a hand over it. If the fabric bubbles or wrinkles re-tape the backing being careful to stretch out the fabric without pulling so hard it becomes distorted.

How to Pin Baste a Quilt by Tangible Culture. In this method masking tape is used to first tape the backing to a hard surface; then the wadding is taped to the backing; finally the quilt top is taped to the wadding.

Pin Basting On a Table:

Using Straight Silk Pins by National Quilters Circle. In this short video tutorial long, thin pins are used to baste a small quilt sandwich. The demonstrator says the the method can be used successfully for quilts up to throw size.

Quilting for Beginners: How to Baste Quilt Layers Together by Wisecrafthandmade. This table top method uses clamps to secure the layers to a table. Flowerhead pins, with homemade ‘Pinmoors’ made of craft foam, secure the layers. The tutorial explains how to baste a quilt larger than the the table surface.

Pin Basting Combined with Board Basting:

‘Board Basting’ is a technique for table top basting developed by Sharon Schamber. There are several videos of her demonstrating the method, unfortunately they are not great quality. On the Right Sides Together site there is an explanation of Board Basting that does include an in-focus video of Sharon demonstrating the board basting method. Although Sharon favours hand thread basting others have successfully used pin or spray basting when using the Board Basting technique.

The technique has been further developed to utilise swim noodles. Here’s a video of the swim noodle, pin baste technique. This is slightly different from the original Sharon S method as the wadding is also rolled.

* * * * *

So there you have it, a brief trip through a variety of pin basting processes. The variation in techniques explained in these tutorials is a good indication that there is no one way of creating a perfect pin basted quilt sandwich. But, we would hope, applying at least some of the tips and advice should lead to the process having a satisfactory outcome far more often than not.

What am I taking away from all this? I think first I made some basic errors in the basting of the quilt sandwich that sparked this blog post. I need to be more careful when I’m securing the backing – making sure it really is taut. I didn’t make allowances for one of the backing fabrics being quite a silky cotton, combining that with polyester wadding was more likely to lead to the sandwich layers shifting so I should have pinned more densely than I did…

So I am going to do things differently. I’ve cleared a space on my sewing room floor ready to pin baste the quilt sandwich.

It’s a l-o-n-g time since I basted on the floor and this is quite a confined space. My 58 year old knees and rather too large backside may well work against me ever doing this again but I’m interested to see if, for this quilt at least, pinning to the carpet will produce a successful quilt sandwich. I will let you know the result in my Saturday Quilting Bring & Share blog post or you may just hear my howls of despair or shouts of joy echoing around the World 😀

Incidentally I was taught how to ‘board baste’ when I first learned to patchwork quilt (thank you Flip!) and have kept the long boards tucked behind the spare bed but haven’t used the method for a long time. Having done this research I’m fascinated by the lack of stretching applied to the layers as they are unrolled from the boards or swim noodles. Maybe I’ll get those boards out from behind the bed and have a go at board basting my next quilt sandwich just to see if they do the job well enough on their own without the need to clamp or tape the layers to the table?

Please do add your experiences of pin basting and any tips you’d recommend to the comments box below. Thank you!

Linking with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. Kelly is bravely finding the silver linings in having a broken ankle!

Allison

PS. For an up-to-date and comprehensive guide to pin basting and other methods of securing a quilt sandwich take a scroll through this article, ‘Quilt basting tutorial – learn different ways to baste a quilt‘.

 

Quilting Diamonds Across Dashing Stars

Me and Julie the Juki are busy stitching straight lines across the Dashing Stars quilt. I’ve used the walking foot guide bar to keep the quilting lines spaced 2½” apart. The piecing design is full of straight lines that emphasise a horizontal & vertical grid. I decided to mix it up a bit by introducing quilting lines at an angle of 60° to create a diamond grid.

The pink arrow is pointing to the 60 degree line on the ruler. The line is positioned over a horizontal seam. The Hera marker is next to the edge of the ruler which lies where the quilting stitches will run.

To ‘draw’ the initial 60° line I matched up the marking on a ruler with a horizontal seam on the patchwork. I used a Hera Marker along the edge of the ruler to create an impression on the fabric right across the quilt before laying down a strip of masking tape to use as my guide.

I stitched along the edge of the tape, removed it and then repeated the marking process with a line running all the way across the quilt in the opposite diagonal direction. I chose to mark these initial two lines to intersect at the very centre of the quilt top. Next I set up the walking foot guide with a 2½” gap between the guide and the machine needle.

Stitching with the guide bar is quick and has the advantage that no quilting lines need to be marked on the fabric. However, I have been checking every three or four rows of stitching to make sure my lines haven’t become bowed or moved away from the 60° angle. It’s simple enough to straighten things out by using the ruler, Hera Marker and masking tape to get the next line back on track.

I’m using 50wt Aurifil 2600 thread and have increased the machine stitch length to around 2.5 from the usual piecing length of about 1.8.

I hope you have an opportunity to be a Midweek Maker. Click over to Susan’s blog, Quilt Fabrication, to find out what she and other makers are up to this week.

Allison

PS. I think the comments box on this page may be broken – apologies if you have attempted to leave comments to previous posts and been unsuccessful or wondered why I haven’t replied. I will endeavour to get any problems fixed.