Paper Pieced Quilt Along #8 – Spray Basting Tutorial

I have been a quilter for over 20 years, but I’ve only been using basting spray on my quilts for about the last 2 years and it’s now my favorite go-to method. Although there are a few drawbacks: it’s more expensive, you need to do it outside or in a well-ventilated area, the convenience of not having to remove pins while machine quilting more than makes up for it!

Be sure to share your progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa!


I can usually baste about 2-3 throw sized quilts from one can of basting spray.

Tips before starting

  • My spray basting method works best for quilt batting that is mostly or all cotton.
  • I use 2 large plastic tables that fold up and out of the way for storage. You can also use just one table for this method.
  • Make sure your batting is at least 2″ all around all four sides of the top (4″ larger than the finished measurement).
  • Make sure your backing is at least 3″ bigger all around (6″ larger than the finished quilt top).
  • If using a lot of black like I did, consider using a black batting (I used an 80/20 blend).
  • Grab a helper and a long acrylic ruler to help smooth things out.
  • If the quilt top or backing sticks to itself, you can easily pull it apart to reposition as needed.

Step 1

Press all 3 layers – quilt top, quilt backing and batting with a dry iron. This works best for 100% cotton or a cotton blend, but yes, you can iron your quilt batting. If you are worried about the batting sticking to your iron, put a piece of clean fabric on top of the batting and iron on top of that. If you have stubborn wrinkles, lightly spray the batting with water before pressing.

Step 2

Cover your table or work surface with a clean bed sheet or cardboard to protect the table from overspray. If it’s not windy outside, you can place pieces of white paper around the edges of the fabric and then remove them easily once the top and backing have been sprayed.


Spray outside to let the fumes dissipate. I used sheets of paper to catch the overspray.

Lay out the quilt top, wrong side up on a large table outside. Gently and evenly spray the entire top with 505 basting spray. (This is the brand I recommend.) I will usually spray in sections, following the pieced design of the quilt. Set aside the quilt top.

qal_basting_top_detailYou want the adhesive to completely cover the back side of the quilt top – just don’t overdo it.

Step 3

Lay out the quilt backing wrong side up and repeat the process to spray the entire backing. If the backing hangs over the edges, spray the center first and then the sides. Remove the bed sheet or papers and leave the backing on the table.

quilt backingBy using paper to catch the overspray, it’s easy to remove and leave the backing in place.
Dead summer grass and dirty concrete patio optional!! 🙂

Step 4

With a helper, lay the batting on top of the quilt backing. It may help to fold the backing in half and then in quarters first. Lay it on the corner of the backing and then unfold it and smooth it out as you go.

With a long acrylic ruler, smooth the batting across the backing, working out any lumps and bumps.

Step 5

With a helper, lay the sticky top right side up on top of the batting and backing piece. Again, smooth it out with a long ruler if needed. Flip the quilt sandwich over to ensure there are no wrinkles on the back and that the entire top has batting and backing underneath. Trim the excess batting and backing with batting shears leaving only an inch or two all around.

basting a quiltSmooth the layers out the best you can with your hands and a ruler.

Step 6

Bring all 3 layers inside and iron it from the back of your quilt to set the glue. If you have an oversized board that fits on top of your regular ironing board, this comes in really handy! Once the backing is smooth, flip the quilt over and iron it again from the front side.

If spray basting isn’t your thing, here’s a link another quilt along with my pin-basting tutorial. 🙂

You are now ready to quilt! Start choosing  your thread colors and meet me back here August 26th to begin the quilting. Or get a jump start on it now if you can’t wait!

Click here for all of the Paper Pieced Quilt Along Tutorials

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11 thoughts on “Paper Pieced Quilt Along #8 – Spray Basting Tutorial

  1. Linda H. says:

    Wish I had a handy place to spray baste. As it is, I have to remove two vehicles from the garage, move tables out to the garage, and then to get a helper I’d have to do a lot of arm-twisting! I’ve never pressed a quilt after spray-basting, so that’s a new one on me. I sure like that quilting is a whole lot easier without having to remove pins! Glad it works for you to do it this way.

  2. Vicki P says:

    I am a fan of spray basting as well. I used to dread hours of back-breaking pinning (and always re-pinning as you go), but now I can spray baste a quilt in an hour or so.

    My technique involves setting up 2 8′ x 4′ masonite boards on sawhorses in the garage.
    1 ) I tape the backing right side down to the boards and spray. This keeps the backing tight and in place to prevent wrinkles.
    2 ) I lay the batting on top of the backing and smooth it out.
    3 ) I lay the top over the batting, lining up the designs on back and top if necessary. Then I peel back half the top, spray and replace. Peel back the other half of the top, spray and replace.

    Easy peasy. Never had a wrinkle on the back. The spray holds pretty well, although I generally place about a dozen pins around the sides and corners to hold it as I jostle the quilt around returning it to my sewing room. I’ll never go back to pin basting.

  3. Karen Thurn says:

    I’ve been told that the spray won’t last long and some people still pin. Any thoughts on that? Does it wash out or do the quilts seem a bit stiff from the adhesive?

    • Christa says:

      The spray baste washes out well and it’s not stiff at all, even before washing. The ironing trick helps hold it all together without the need for pinning. I love it!

  4. Karen Thurn says:

    I used my 60% off coupons at Joann’s last week for 2 cans of 505. I’ve never spray basted before so this tutorial is sure timely for me. I have 3 quilts needing some free motion work on my home sewing machine and now after reading you tutorial I feel confident to give it a try.

  5. Susan says:

    Thanks Christa. I will use this tutorial when I get to the basting. Haven’t done anything past cutting strips so far (due to illness) but hope to get started again soon. I love the quilt tops everyone is doing and posting. So many beautiful variations.

  6. Quilt Musings says:

    I have definitely become a spray basting fan and it is great to learn how you do it. I will have to try your method. One challenge I have is knowing whether you have sprayed enough…or too much. Any suggestions?

  7. Karen says:

    I’ve always wondered how spray basting really worked. It seemed like it might result in a real mess, like an epoxy glue + formica event that once happened in our home 😦 Thanks for all the real details–I don’t think you left out a thing–so that it doesn’t terrify me anymore. Christa, you’re the best!

  8. Jane Zwanzig-Owens says:

    Christa, your tutorial is a great help. I love how you do step-by-step instructions, so there are no questions. Thank you.

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