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‘.

 

Table Top Sewing Basket Tutorial

Hand sewing projects have the great advantage over machine sewing of generally being mobile activities. Even if ‘mobile’ only means moving from room to room or sofa to armchair within the home! Which is basically as mobile as sewing projects can be in current Covid restricted circumstances! Of course being mobile, even in this limited sense, does raise the need for some sort of container to carry and store sewing notions.

I had the perfect container hidden away on a shelf in my sewing room – a little fabric basket just the right size for the threads, needles, scissors and other bits and bobs I need for English Paper Piecing and applique projects. As well as being a useful container for carrying all the notions the basket also serves as a way to keep them all safely in one place – rather than thread spools rolling off the coffee table and my scissors getting lost between the sofa cushions!

Realising how useful the fabric basket has been to me over the past few weeks I decided I would make one as a gift for someone who is about to recommence home sewing after a long break. I’m really chuffed with the little basket and matching pincushion I made from a fat quarter and a few smaller scraps.

My word for 2021 is SHARE and in that spirit I thought I’d post a tutorial should you feel inspired to make a Table Top Sewing Basket 🙂 I certainly wouldn’t claim that this is an original idea. I first made a fabric basket back in 2014. I can’t remember the tutorial I followed. If  ‘make a fabric basket tutorial’ is typed into a browser the choice is overwhelming! Overtime I’ve adapted that first tutorial, introduced ideas from other basket tutorials and tried different combinations of materials. So this is a hi-bred of several tutorials and plenty of experience 🙂

To make a basket with a 4½” (11cm) square base that stands 4½” high you will need:

  • One Fat Quarter cut into: one (1) 5¾” x 20″ rectangle; two (2) 4¼” x 7″ rectangles
  • Contrast fabric: one (1) 1¾” x 20″ rectangle.
  • Lining: Two (2) 9½” x 7″ rectangles.
  • Medium weight iron-on interfacing (optional): one (1) 5″ x 19″ rectangle.
  • Wadding: one (1) 9″ x 22″ rectangle.

Step One – Preparing the Outside of the Basket

  • Using a ¼” seam, stitch the contrast fabric rectangle to a long edge of the 5¾” x 20″ rectangle. If either of your fabrics are directional be sure to orientate them correctly with the contrast fabric at the top of the basket! Press seam open.
  • Fuse the iron-on interfacing to the back of the pieced rectangle.
  • Lay the pieced rectangle face up on top of the wadding. Baste the two layers together. Try using masking tape to keep the wadding slightly stretched and in one place whilst lightly pinning the pieced rectangle in place.

  • I could write ‘quilt as desired’ and imagine the howls of frustration 😀 so instead I’ll just say that I generally choose to use a walking foot to stitch gentle wavy lines along the length of the piece. But if you are keen to practice free motion quilting stitches then a project this size is ideal! Keep the stitching lines about ½” – ¾” apart to help give the basket a bit of extra rigidity.
  • Once quilted use a rotary cutter to trim away the excess wadding.
  • Cut the quilted rectangle into two (2) 7½” x 9½” rectangles.

Step 2 – Making Boxed Corners

  • Place the two quilted rectangles right sides together. Use a ruler and pen to mark a 2¼” square in the lower left and right hand corners.

  • Line up the seams and pin. Stitch the two pieces together using ¼” seam. A walking foot is useful for getting through all the layers. Use strengthening back stitching at the start and end of each seam AND over the drawn lines.
  • Use scissors to cut out the marked 2¼” squares.
  • Fold one cut corner so the side and base seams are lying together.

  • Pin in place and sew along the opening using a ¼” seam, back stitch the start and end of the seam.

  • Repeat with the opposite opening.
  • Turn right sides out.

Step 3 – Make the Lining

  • Place the two Lining rectangles right sides together. Use a ruler and pen to mark a 2¼” square in the lower left and right hand corners.

  • Stitch the two pieces together using a 3/8″ seam. Leave a 2″ opening in the bottom seam. Use back stitching at the start and end of each seam AND over the drawn lines.
  • Use scissors to cut out the marked 2¼” squares.
  • Make boxed corners in the same way as for the Outer Basket.
  • Finger press the seams open and leave the lining wrong side out.

Step 4 – Make the Tab Handles

  • Place a 4¼” x 7″ rectangle wrong side up on an ironing board. Fold the shorter sides to the centre. Press to crease the folds. Fold along the centre line to make a 1¾” x 4¼” rectangle. Press the folds.

  • Top stitch close to both long edges of the rectangle.

  • Repeat with the second 4¼” x 7″ rectangle.

Step 5 – Constructing the basket

  • Place the Outer Basket inside the Lining, right sides facing with the side seams against each other.
  • Fold a Tab Handle in half widthways and slip it between the Outer Basket and Lining layers so it is centred on the side seams. Allow the raw edges of the Tab Handle to protrude ¼” above the rim of the basket. Pin securely in place.

  • Repeat with the second Tab Handle on the opposite side of the Basket.
  • Pin the Lining and Outer Basket together all around the rim. (This might be a bit of a tight squeeze as the Lining is shorter than the Outer Basket).
  • Stitch a ¼” seam inside the rim – a walking foot is useful for stitching through all the layers.

  • Use the gap in the bottom seam of the Lining to turn the basket right sides out.
  • Hand or machine stitch closed the gap in the bottom seam of the Lining.
  • Roll and pin/clip the rim of the basket so the seam is uppermost.

  • Top Stitch ¼” below the rim to hold the layers in place and create a neat edge.

I hope you enjoy making, using and/or gifting a Table-Top Sewing Basket. Any questions? Pop them in the Comments box and I’ll do my best to help.

One last tip: Best not to use a bag wadding such as Bosal In-R-Form for a small basket like this one. I did once and turning the bag right side out was very difficult – a bit of a Call the Midwife situation if you know what I mean? :-O

Linking with Alycia for Finished or Not Friday and with Denise for her Put Your Foot Down linky.

Allison

Adding flanges to a border

The Basket of Blooms applique is continuing to give me opportunities to learn and practice new techniques. This week I made the yo-yo embellishments. First time making these and maybe not entirely successful as the holes in the centres look rather large – perhaps I should have used smaller stitches so they’d gather-in more tightly?

I poked a little piece of the brown fabric into the yo-yo to make the opening less obvious!

Read more

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.