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 bastingΒ  πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜€

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‘.

 

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (249)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. Bring along your project(s) and relax in the company of quilters from around the World – after all it is International Quilting Day πŸ™‚ There’ll be plenty of sharing of ideas going on – use the links below to visit a few quilty bloggers and join in the sharing by adding to the conversations in the comments boxes.

I’ve tried to stay focussed through the week but I did get a bit fluttery yesterday when I suddenly felt overwhelmed by all the projects on the go! Progress has been made on a few. Once I’d overcome the overwhelm (if you know what I mean?) I followed my DHs advice (up to a point) and got stuck into one (or two) projects. First up, I made a large piece of wadding from several offcuts of Quilters Dream Green. That felt good! Next I made a label for the Sixty Slice quilt calling my version the ‘Sixty Degree Summer’ quilt and pieced that into a pieced backing. I forgot to take a photo of the backing before getting the quilt sandwich clamped to my basting table…

Hand sewing has been going on steadily through the week, yesterday I stitched together the fourth and last of the hexie flowers I intend to applique to an Irish Chain quilt.

As I’ve already started machine quilting the quilt I think I will attempt to machine applique the hexie flowers to the quilt sandwich. Any advice? Is this plan likely to lead to a puckered disaster? Would I do better to carefully hand applique the hexie flowers to the top layer and then machine quilt on and around them?

So that’s more than enough sewing room action for one weekend really: pin basting the Sixty Degree Summer quilt; and attaching the flowers to the Irish Chain quilt. But, and here I open the window into my overwhelm, there are several other projects scattered across my sewing room. There are this months Rainbow Scrap Challenge string blocks to make – so far all I’ve done is sort out the green fabric strings from the box.

Then there’s the English Country Garden QAL – I’ve cut out the fabrics for the March block but got no further.

(And of course there are blocks up on the design wall ready to be stitched together into ANOTHER quilt top) πŸ˜€

On Thursday I received some happy post, a complimentary copy of the latest edition of Love Patchwork & Quilting as one of my designs is in the magazine πŸ™‚ You can find out more about Issue 96 by visiting the @lovequiltingmag bio and clicking the link to buy print and digital copies, or to subscribe. Next week I’ll share more about the design and my limited experience of having designs published in magazines.

Time for a bumper batch of links to celebrate International Quilters Day:

Wow! Linda has pushed herself hard through a design process and produced a really spectacular quilt. It all began at the end of January in a workshop on Zoom run by Maria Shell. It’s well worth reading this summary blog post to see how Linda finished the quilt but you might then take a trip through her earlier posts to follow the ups and downs of the design process.

Carole is enjoying the transition from Winter to Spring, she says she’s ‘Breathing Again‘. Enjoying Spring flowers, birds visiting her garden and an outdoor lunch with a show and tell with friends.

Another brilliant tutorial from Yvonne. This time she walks us through making accurate, consistent Square-in-a-Square blocks. So much helpful information and a cutting chart too. Definitely worth saving a link to this tutorial πŸ™‚

Nancy enjoys searching in thrift stores for fabrics suitable for quilting. She has found a great selection of shirts, blouses and bed linen to bolster her stash. Nancy takes a needle with her when she’s hunting for fabrics – just to make sure the fabric weave is loose enough to make hand quilting comfortable.

Leanne’s latest edition of ‘Let’s Get to Know’ features Bernie of Needle & Foot. I have followed Bernie’s blog since around 2015 and always look forward to receiving a notification in my inbox letting me know she’s published a post.

Cynthia is a queen of scrap quilting. She’s been dealing with an over-flow of brown scraps. Some may think ‘meh’ about the colour but I think Cynthia’s Courthouse Steps Blocks will gain a few more thumbs up for brown!

Earlier this month Michelle shared her thoughts on binding quilts and got a lively and informative discussion going in the comments section of her blog. In that post she also shared a link to a binding tutorial post she wrote back in 2016 – well worth a couple of clicks πŸ™‚

Laura Hopper has been a guest on the Suzy Quilts website sharing her skills of organizing and storage. In this post Laura shares some tips that should help us think more clearly about Quilt Fabric Organization.

Jen is helping to ‘keep it real’ by giving a tour of her basement sewing space. It is a windowless laundry room but with a bit of ingenuity and good grace Jen is making it a productive and happy place.

Cheryl shares a baby quilt tutorial which could be a great scrap buster – lots of strips cut into half square triangles.

Funny how we can make loads of quilts to give away but put off making things for our own homes! Laura has taken time to get round to making a cover for her sewing machine – it was worth the wait! She’s chosen bright colours to compliment her sewing room.

Linking with Alycia for Finished or Not Friday. She’s on roll finishing quilt tops!

Happy Stitching!

Allison

Speedy Patchwork and a Pre-Wash Surprise!

Well! This was a bit of a surprise! To allow the fibres to shrink before cutting and piecing I pre-washed a piece of white cotton from IKEA I wasn’t expecting the colour to change! I mean it’s white, there’s no dye to bleed!

Left: Before washing and Right: After washing

My husband knows a thing or two about this and says its the OBA (Optical Brightening Agent) in the detergent and demonstrated it’s effect with a UV light πŸ™‚

Left: Before washing and Right: After washing

I generally wash my quilting cottons before cutting and piecing. I know there are good arguments on both sides of the pre-wash vs. don’t wash debate. I just feel more comfortable knowing excess dye has been washed out of deep colours and the cotton fibres have shrunk before I start sewing. Of course there are exceptions to most rules and I’m willing to be pragmatic on this issue. Fabrics in packs of pre-cut strips and squares can’t be washed without fraying and becoming distorted. If I’m using pre-cut strips or squares I don’t wash the background fabrics I’ll be piecing with them – they can all shrink together when the finished quilt is washed.Β  And scrap quilts do end up being a mix of pre-washed fabrics and off-cuts from unwashed pre-cuts. So, in principle, I pre-wash but there are plenty of exceptions πŸ˜€

Back to sewing πŸ™‚ I decided to take out the dark solid from the blocks I made over the weekend. I don’t think it was the dark colour value bothering me, it was much more that the chunk of solid colour in amongst the prints and lighter solids kept drawing my eye – becoming less a place to rest the eye and more of a distraction.

Looking at a B&W image of the completed quilt top I’m satisfied there is a fair range of value without the dark solid.

 

Having completed this quilt top my attention went straight back to the remaining fat quarters.

I decided on another simple block pattern and found a really helpful strip piecing technique for making the blocks in Allison Harris’ book, ‘Growing Up Modern’. It was easy to adapt her width-of-fabric instructions to my fat quarters and non-standard width IKEA cotton. I am enjoying giving my sewing machine a pedal-to-the-metal workout as we race through all the long seams together πŸ™‚

Ready for some high-speed strip-piecing action!

I haven’t decided on a layout for this quilt but as there are only four prints I think it may be easier to keep them in an orderly fashion rather than try to make a ‘random’ distribution. Here are the blocks I’ve made so far:

Linking with Jennifer for Wednesday Wait Loss – a place to encourage one-another to keep going with our WIPs. Also linking with Susan for Midweek Makers – she’s found a lot of green quilts to get in the spirit of St Patrick’s Day. With all this speedy strip piecing it seems appropriate to link with Denise for Put your foot down Thursday πŸ™‚

Lastly a heads up that this coming Saturday, 20th March, is International Quilting Day πŸ™‚ Will you be doing anything special to mark the day?

Allison

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (248)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. I’m sorry to be late publishing. Yesterday I had one of those stomach-drop moments when I found I couldn’t access my own blog site *horrible* Thankfully my website lady worked her magic and all is running smoothly now. I hope you have had time to enjoy sewing this weekend, maybe a few treats have come your way too if you are a mother in the UK? πŸ™‚ There may just be time to bring along your project and share in the tips, ideas and inspiration circulating through our Worldwide Quilting Community. If you visit some blog sites via the links below you can join in the sharing by leaving your thoughts in the comments boxes πŸ™‚

After finishing the I-Spy Puzzle quilt at the start of the week I had a bit of a tidy-up in my sewing room, taking time to clear the lint out of my sewing machine and then looked around for my next project. I always have more than one WIP but somehow finishing a project causes a bit of stutter in my creative flow: Which project should I focus on now? Is this the time to start a new project ;-)? I didn’t really think hard about my choices…. This is how the sewing panned out through the rest of the week:

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