Tutorial and Tips: How to Spray Baste a Quilt

2018 Spray Basting Update

I’ve updated this method to show I use my design wall to assemble the layers.
Click here for the updated tutorial.

Original Tutorial (From 2014):

I have been dabbling with using 505 basting spray to hold the three layers of my quilt together while quilting. I’ve learned a few things along the way and would like to share them with you. Thanks to Ann Petersen for introducing me to this method of basting.

spray_basting_0Yes, you get to see my ugly backyard during this tutorial. Yay, you!

Tips Before You Begin

First of all, when basting a quilt with spray, it is best to use pre-washed 100% cotton fabrics. The spray make not stick as well to other fibers. Also, if you like to starch the back of your quilt to make it slicker and aid in machine quilting, wait to do this until after you have spray-basted the quilt.

For best results, choose a natural fiber batting made of cotton, silk or wool (or a blend that is mostly cotton) because the adhesive tends to stick better. Finally, be sure to use the spray adhesive outside, or in an extremely well ventilated room with the doors and windows open.

Now on to the Tutorial

Begin by setting up one or two tables on which to work. Alternatively you can place a sheet on the ground, or even drape your fabrics over a wall if needed. Lay out the backing of your quilt first, wrong side up. You will be applying the spray to the wrong side of the fabric.

spray_basting_1Working outside is best so that fumes can dissipate.

Not shown in the photo: place a towel or two on each end of the table under the backing to protect it from over-spray.

Shake the can well before beginning. I have only used the 505 spray, so I cannot speak to the effectiveness of the other brands. Starting on one end of the quilt, spray the adhesive smoothly back and forth across the surface of your quilt. It should be very tacky to the touch. Set the backing aside and move on to the quilt top.

spray_basting_2Not a very flattering picture, but I’m keeping it real!

Lay out the quilt top and use the same method to apply spray evenly over the wrong side of the top and set it aside. I sprayed the center section of the quilt top and then went back and sprayed the sides. I didn’t move the top; I just sprayed the edges while they were hanging off the table.

spray_basting_3Lay out your quilt top wrong side up.

I usually hang my top and backing wrong side up over a railing while waiting to assemble them. You can also fold them up and open them later as needed. The quilt pieces will be tacky but can still be opened up if the sticky ends touch each other.

spray_basting_4I drape my quilt tops over a railing in my sewing room.

Using a large surface (like a couple of long plastic tables pushed together), spread the backing wrong side up and tape or clamp down the edges. Next, place your layer of batting on top.

spray_basting_5Tape the backing down with painter’s tape, wrong side up.

It is really helpful if you can grab an assistant to help you place the batting directly on top of the backing without having to move it around too much. Grab the quilt top, again with help, and place it on top of the other two layers, right side up.

Take some time to smooth out all 3 layers until it is nice and flat. Once you have worked out any wrinkles, take the whole sandwich over to your ironing board and press it together from the back of the quilt. This will help set the adhesive and works best with natural fiber battings. If needed, press the front side as well.bastingYou are now ready to quilt!

The quilt shown is Modern X, made as a free pattern for members of the Modern Quilt Guild. Pattern available for purchase here.

41 thoughts on “Tutorial and Tips: How to Spray Baste a Quilt

  1. Cindy says:

    My husband bought me two 4X8 foot pink styrofoam insulation sheets- they stand against the wall of my garage. i pin the edges of my backing to it- spray it, smooth and pat the batting on (starting from the top down) then repeat for the quilt top. No crawling around the floor!

    • Suzanne says:

      I LOVE your idea Cindy! I generally use two 2×4 folding tables side by side and follow Reena Kaplowitz’ method. But I really love hearing other ideas – you are all so creative! And yes, I spray baste with Dritz fabric adhesive, but I NEVER light a candle to remove the odor- the stuff is flammable!.

      And to Christa – thank you for the marvelous tutorial. I love your quilt and your photos too. Nice to know that we are all really very much alike. My yard is a mess, pictures of me are always horrid and my office/sewing/crafting room is only 10 x 12, so it can get really cramped in there!

  2. Susan Ramsay says:

    Don’t worry about your yard. Yards are for children, not just to be admired by the neighbors. Ours was the worst, with 4 kids, but all the neighborhood kids loved to play at our house!

    • Janet Weeks says:

      Thank you so much for this lesson. I never thought of ironing it on the table!! Much bigger area than ironing board. Your tips are awesome.

  3. Michele says:

    I am new to your blog. Thanks for all of your tips. When I spray baste, my sister taught me to spread the backing out, then roll the batting on a tube and the top on a tube. I spray a little at a time on to the backing, then unroll the batting, pat it down, then spray it and unroll top. This has worked for me. I have copied my pattterns for the “Modern Dresden”, just waiting to decide on my color palette.

    If I was a Kono color I would be “sunny” because that is what I am and it would work in almost any quilt.

    Thanks again for you help.

  4. adaisygarden says:

    Just this past week I was wondering whether the spray really works or not. Haven’t heard very much about it… Thanks for sharing your tips and techniques. Btw, love your comment underneath the picture where you are spraying the quilt. Made me laugh out loud! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Pat says:

    Thanks for the step by step instructions. Last year I spray basted 7 quilts, including a king size! I did that one in 2 pieces, then joined the pieces after quilting on my Bernina 440QE. Space is always a problem. I’ve used the kitchen floor, a blank wall, folding tables, and the garage floor (covered with sheets). I think the folding tables work best – it’s too hard to crawl around on the floor anymore!

    Kathy mentioned her BSR doesn’t like the spray basting – I haven’t had any problems with mine. Maybe try not spraying too heavily?

  6. Molly says:

    I have only ever spray basted, but I do like the idea of taping down the backing and ironing. Room is also a problem for me so I have always used Reena’s method. Love all the input on this post.

  7. simonsayssew says:

    Thanks for the great post Christa! Just an added note….if you do get some over spray on your table or floor or whatever it will come off super easy with either “goo be gone” or a little of the orange hand cleaner that mechanics use. I use the orange hand cleaner because it smells happy and isn’t greasy. I spray baste all of my quilts and I never thought to try ironing to help set the adhesive. I can’t wait to try that idea.

  8. Lindsey says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I have just started using this technique of spray basting and I really do love it! I haven’t sprayed outside before, I will definitely have to try that out! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. nita says:

    I like to spray baste but find the cost too expensive to justify at $15 per can. I did read once somewhere that you can make your own and mist it on with a spray bottle, but don’t know where I saw it.

  10. stitchinstein says:

    Love the tute Christa! I think I do mine very similar! I have not tried the 505 but the stuff I use can be done indoors, no toxic fumes and I just use a week bit. I sued the trial and error method, then I found Patsy Thompson’s video and want to try her technique. So many good ideas here to try!

  11. Lee @ Freshly Pieced says:

    Great tutorial, Christa! It never occurred to me to spray the items outside like you do, then bring them inside to actually baste. I might have to try it! (I always tape down the back, then spray and baste, but that’s messy in the house.)

  12. Alice says:

    First to your back yard. It is beautiful because it isn’t covered in snow! I hope to try this method soon. I have used 505 to adhere stabilizer for machine embroidery but that was just little spots.

  13. Kathy @ Kwikty Pleasures says:

    My Bernina stitch regulator doesn’t like spray basting. She skips stitches. She works fine if I take the BSR foot off.

  14. Katie says:

    Your post is timely. I too just started spray basting as I am taking in more quilts for customers and it is a huge time-saver with great results. One question, when spray basting a large quilt do you then also do some basting stitches to keep you layers from shifting while quilting? I have found a few of mine shift the larger they are.

    • Christa says:

      What I do is anchor my quilts with long rows of stitching in the ditch. For example, in Modern X, I quilted the longest diagonal line first on both sides and then quilted each diagonal row of blocks. Then I went back and added in all of the filler quilting.

  15. Lori Smanski says:

    This is great thanks. I have used the spray on small projects to date. But I also pin the edges also. No slipping what so ever.

  16. Sandra Walker says:

    SO glad you are posting about this as there seems to be some OMG NO! feelings about QBS, similar to years ago with the OMG MACHINE quilted??! Just a couple of things, as I have spray-basted my quilts from wallhanging to king-size for well over 10 years now with never a problem. You don’t have to do this outside; just open a window, even if it’s cold (I used to live in north-central Alberta, so I know what I am talking about, just put on a sweater or two!), even light a candle (they purify the air), or wear a mask. I agree with Reena; I cringe to spray the fabric, although I DO spray the backing after I’ve taped it down onto my floor, but remember less is more; this stuff (and I’ve used 505 and Quilting Basting Spray) really holds. I’ve never ironed my quilt afterwards and never felt the need to, although I will try it on the next one! Quilt in the ditch from the centre out if possible (but if it’s a huge quilt then it might mean the centre of that section, as I will cut apart my batting so it’s less bulk to manipulate through my DSM—did a post on that).
    I think the more tips and tricks when using new-to-you methods, the better, and you will find what works best for you, but pins-schmins I say; this changed my life! http://musingsofamenopausalmelon.blogspot.com/2014/01/quilt-basting-spray-in-action.html is the link to my tutorial on QBS and there is also one on Quilting in Thirds there too. Hope that’s okay to link here Christa; if not, no worries, as Reena said, just delete, no hard feelings.

  17. Anne says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. Now if it wasn’t so cold I could get outside and do the larger quilts. I haven’t tried spraying the side the way you did, sounds easier than shifting the fabric.

  18. Darlene M. says:

    Thank you Christa and Reena for the tutorials. Need to practice on a smaller quilt when the winds aren’t sweeping across our plains!

  19. Kay says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have tried the rolling method which didn’t work for me, and I hadn’t thought to iron it afterwards to set it. That should help too.

  20. Reena Kaplowitz says:

    Thanks for the tute but let me tell you how it works for me. I have spray basted many a quilt. i never spray the fabric at all. I actually do this on the floor. I lay the batting out 1st because I can never cut it the right size. Then I lay the backing on top- wrong side to batting. I peel back the backing down 1/2 way then start spraying the BATTING from the fold a couple feet out all across. Spread the backing part way and repeat till that 1/2 is done. Repeat on the other end- middle out to the edges. Then I trim the batt edges to the size of the backing and flip it over so the batting is on top. I repeat the process with the top folding it halfway etc. Then I do iron it like you said. I have seen people mistakenly spray the fabric and it is a nightmare. Maybe with a tiny quilt you could get away with it but good luck if it is a normal size like you pictured. Maybe try it my way once and see if you like it. I would not have room to lay out the sprayed pieces as you do and the big hunk of sticky fabric- ay yi yi. I hope this isn’t rude. If it is just delete it no hard feelings.

    • Christa says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I don’t think it’s rude at all. ๐Ÿ™‚ I always love trying new techniques and believe there is no such way as the wrong way – just different ways of doing things!

      I’m always on a quest for learning new ways to quilt and make the job easier!

  21. kaaren babb says:

    I’m glad you posted this in-depth process. I have done it many times, but not on such a large piece. You give me hope!

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