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.

Making a Spiral Template for Walking Foot Quilting

Working on UFO’s is very satisfying! My current WIP (Work In Progress) became a UFO way back in July 2018. I suspect I couldn’t figure a way of quilting over or around such a variety of 6″ blocks so abandoned the quilt top along with a pieced backing including an integrated label (wahoo!) and a piece of cotton wadding cut to size.

Looking at the quilt after a two year break I decided to stitch a spiral to fill in the centre of the quilt and continue using the walking foot to echo some straight lines through the borders.

First task to tackle with a spiral design is drawing one! I used Yvonne Fuch’s method to draw the centre of a spiral. I drew mine onto a sheet of paper continuing the spiral lines until they were 2″ apart – the spacing I planned to use in the quilt stitching. To transfer this spiral onto the quilt I opted to make a template. Not having any template plastic to hand, I cut up an old, clear plastic, zip lock folder and traced my spiral using a permanent marker. I then cut along the spiral twice to create a narrow opening to use as a stencil.

(On reflection the template would be more stable if I hadn’t cut a continuous spiral but had instead left some little ‘bridges’ of plastic like those found on commercially produced stencils).

I tested out the template on a practice quilt sandwich using a Hera Marker. The groove left by the marker was a little hard to see (even with side lighting as suggested by Yvonne) but for a first attempt I thought my spiral had worked reasonably well.

Stitching the first few ‘spins’ of a spiral using a walking foot can be a bit tricky especially when starting from the centre of a quilt as the tightest turns are being made with half of the quilt stuffed through the throat of the sewing machine. Tips for achieving this initial tricky maneuver include reducing stitch length and being prepared to stop every few stitches (with needle down), lift the foot and shift the quilt to keep the walking foot on the curve. As the spiral increases in size the stitch length can be increased and stopping to realign the walking foot will become less and less necessary 🙂

I used the template and Hera Marker to start the spiral in the centre of my quilt. I chose to use a Hera rather than a marker pen or chalk as the fabric in the centre of the quilt just happened to be pure white 🙁 Being anxious about using coloured markers anyway I just couldn’t bring myself to use one on white fabric slap-bang in the middle of a quilt top!

😉 It took two attempts to stitch reasonable curves but I’m happy with this and will be keeping my spiral template for future projects.

Two inch spiral seen on the back of the Chocolatier quilt. I used my walking foot with an adjustable guide bar to keep the stitching lines 2″ apart.

If you’d like to have a go at making your own spiral template you are welcome to download and print my drawing of a spiral if it would help 🙂 Here is the link for the download: Spiral by Allison Reid New Every Morning patchwork and Quilting

Linking with Susan for Midweek Makers and Jennifer for Wednesday Wait Loss.

Allison

 

 

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (118)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. I hope you have time to bring along a sewing project or two whilst enjoying the sharing of ideas and inspiration by other members of our Worldwide Quilting Community. Do add your thoughts and links by using the comments box at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

I’ve enjoyed an unusually sociable week. So lovely to catch up with friends and family face-to-face, in real-life, rather than via Zoom or social media. The dry weather may have given us lots of watering to do but it has given ample opportunities to meet-up outdoors.

On the sewing front I’ve been working on making my Bargello experiment into a quilt top. The Bargello panel measured 51″ wide by 40″ long. Dimensions suitable for a wall hanging maybe but not very useful as a quilt or throw. I’d used almost every inch of the Circulus Jelly Roll but still had a Circulus Charm Pack to use. Slowly an idea formed in my mind… Using the 5″ squares with a background fabric to make curved blocks…. Inspired by the circles printed on the Circulus fabrics.

Some weeks ago I ordered a background fabric but when it arrived I knew straight away it was the ‘wrong’ grey *sigh* On the plus side a couple of yards of any grey added to my fabric stash is a happy occurrence! Last Saturday I made a visit to Purple Stitches (lovely to see Eve and step inside the shop) and after an enjoyable browse chose a grey print from the Fantasy range by Sally Kelly.

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