Spray Basting Tutorial – Using a Table

Recently I shared a tutorial on spray basting using a design wall. Today’s tutorial shows how to modify the spray basting process using a table instead. Note that my pictures are all taken outside but once the quilt layers have been sprayed outdoors,  you can assemble the quilt inside using any size table.

Improv Squares Quilt Using Modern Marks

The quilt shown in this tutorial is Improv Squares, made from Modern Marks fabric.
Click here to get the Improv Squares quilt pattern – printed version shipped to you.
Click here to get the Improv Squares quilt pattern – instant PDF download.

Step 1 – Spray the back side of the backing and quilt top

Be sure to spray the layers outside, or in a well ventilated area. If you have sensitivity to chemicals, I recommend wearing a dust mask. I use 505 basting spray and a large sheet to protect the surface I’m spraying on.

I’m using a lightweight folding plastic table, so it’s easy to move. I just store it out of the way in the garage when I’m not using it.

Spray Basting

The table you are using doesn’t have to be bigger than the quilt. When I’m spraying, I cover the center section of the quilt first, and then the sides. For this step, you don’t even need a table; you can lay out a sheet or dropcloth on the ground or wherever you have room.

I used a small park near my home so that I’d have plenty of room, and also nice scenery for photography!

Hold the can an arm’s length away and spray evenly and generously. Make sure to get good coverage on the quilt. To ensure the can is spraying consistently and doesn’t get clogged, spray a few squirts on your dropcloth before applying it to the quilt.

Spray Baste

Although I pressed the top and backing separately before I began, you can see some fold lines on both layers. But not to worry – this gets pressed out at the end. If you spray the top and backing separately, it uses less spray than spraying the batting, and it’s easier to manage.

Once both layers have been sprayed, you can fold them up and bring them inside to finish the assembly process (or stay outside and set the layers aside like I’m showing here.) The layers will be sticky, but not stuck, and you don’t have to assemble them right away – the adhesive doesn’t dry out.

Remove the drop cloth or sheet from the table and then lay out the backing wrong side up.

Spray Baste

Step 2 – Add the batting

I like to fold the batting in half long ways so that I can put the fold line roughly in the center of the backing. You can see in the picture below that it’s not exactly even and that’s ok. As long as the batting and backing are bigger than the quilt top, you’ll have some wiggle room so that you don’t have to line things up perfectly.

In fact, my batting is actually a little longer than the backing so it’s easy enough to trim away the excess. Working on a table is great because it won’t hurt your back like the floor can.

Spray Baste

Open up the batting so you have coverage on all sides. Even if the sides hang down to the ground – that’s okay. The excess will get trimmed away.

Spend time smoothing out the backing. You can lift and reposition it if needed. Work out any wrinkles or bubbles, using your hands and a long acrylic ruler.

I’m using Hobbs cotton batting for this quilt. I like natural fiber battings because they cling to the fabric and they aren’t slippery. (Polyester has a tendency to slip while you are shoving the quilt through the machine which can cause puckers.)

Spray Baste

Once you smooth out the center section, adjust the layers so that you can smooth out the sides, too. Take your time here to really get it nice and flat. Smoothing out the layers also smashes them together so that they stick together better and don’t shift.

You can also iron your batting before you baste to get it nice and flat. I use a spray bottle and a dry iron. With cotton batting, you can put the iron directly on the batting. With more delicate battings like wool, you can cover the area you press with a piece of fabric. Be sure to use a dry iron so that it doesn’t shrink up the batting.

Spray Baste

Step 3 – Add the Quilt Top

Add the top in the same way that you added the batting – get it roughly in the center and make sure there’s coverage all the way around the edges. You can see it’s still a bit wrinkly from handling and moving it around. That’s okay – you’ll iron it again at the end.

Spray Baste

Trim away the excess batting and backing so you’ll have less bulk to deal with. If you have a super large quilt that touches the ground, you can always place two tables side by side to give you more room to work.

I use specialty batting scissors – they cut through the layers like butter, and trimming goes super fast! I only leave about an inch or two on all sides when I trim. That way it’s less likely that I’ll flip the quilt under itself and accidentally quilt through the extra layers!!

Spray Baste

Step 4 – Smooth Out the Layers

Smoothing out each layer as you add it is such a critical step. When your quilt sandwich is flat and smooth, it makes the machine quilting process so much easier! The reason I love using basting spray is that every inch of the quilt is stuck to every other inch. This prevents shifting of the quilt and greatly reduces the chances that you’ll get a tuck or pucker while quilting.

Spray Baste

Use the long ruler again to smooth out the center of the quilt. You can also use it to help line up the pieced seams and nudge things back into place if needed. It’s almost like pre-blocking the quilt before you quilt it.

Spray Baste

Once you’ve smoothed out the center, you can work on the edges. Roll up the excess so that it doesn’t drag on the ground as you shift the quilt around.

It usually takes me a good 20 minutes to smooth out each layer of the quilt, but it’s time well spent!

Spray Baste

Step 5 – Press the Basted Quilt on Both Sides

The secret to good spray basting is to press the quilt once it’s layered. The heat of the iron sets the glue and it smooshes the quilt together so it’s nice and flat. I press the back side first, working out any excess bubbles or wrinkles. Then I flip it over and press the front.

I use a big board which fits on top of my ironing board, giving me more room to work.

Spray Baste

I’ve developed this basting method over the last few years and I can honestly say it makes a huge difference in how my quilts turn out. Just remember, you are putting a lot of wear and tear on the quilt when you scrunch and smoosh it through the opening of your machine. But with this method, nothing shifts and it’s easy to just focus on one area of the quilt at a time.

Feel free to pin and share this tutorial with your friends. My goal is to get more people quilting their own quilts while enjoying the process from start to finish!

Wall Basting Tutorial Using Spray Adhesive

One of the secrets to successful machine quilting is basting your quilts properly. So today I will share with you my favorite way to baste a quilt using 505 basting spray and my design wall. You can definitely modify this technique and baste your quilts on a table, but I prefer the design wall because I can get up close to the quilt and make sure it’s nice and flat.

I’m demonstrating how to baste my Modern Puzzle quilt. Get the free quilt pattern here.

Click here to grab a Modern Puzzle Quilt Kit featuring Modern Marks.

Wall Basting Quilt Tutorial for Modern Puzzle Free Quilt Pattern

Wall basting is my favorite way to baste! I can get up close to make it smooth and flat.

Wall Basting Tutorial

Ensure that all 3 layers of your quilt (top, batting, and backing) are nice and flat. The batting and backing should be a few inches larger than the quilt top on all sides.

Give the top and backing a final press and clip any stray threads. Relax the wrinkles in your batting by throwing it in a dryer with a wet towel for a few minutes, unrolling it from the package to “rest” for a few days, or pressing the batting with a hot dry iron. (For delicate batting, use a piece of fabric to cover it while you press.)

Step 1 – Apply Adhesive to Backing and Quilt Top separately

Lay a sheet on the ground to protect your quilt and catch any over-spray. Outdoors is best so that the fumes can dissipate, but you can do it inside in a well ventilated room while wearing a dust mask. Be sure to shake the can and spray a few squirts on the sheet to ensure the nozzle is clean and the spray comes out evenly before you start.

Lay out the quilt backing wrong side up and apply a thin coat of 505 spray adhesive evenly across the surface of the quilt. Walk around the quilt backing as needed to reach all areas.

Apply spray baste to the wrong side of the backing fabric

Spray the adhesive on one section of the backing at a time. Use seam lines in the piecing to help keep track of where you’ve sprayed since it’s hard to see the adhesive on the fabric.

Repeat the process for the quilt top, using the design of the quilt to help you keep track of which areas you’ve already covered. Don’t worry if the quilt top and backing have some give or are a bit wrinkly from movement. You will smooth it all out later.

Spray baste the quilt top

Be sure to lay out the quilt top wrong side up while applying basting spray.

Hint: it’s easier to keep track of where you’ve sprayed if you cover one-two rows at a time, moving methodically over the quilt top.

spray basting

Try to keep the can spraying out consistently so you don’t get any adhesive buildup.

Once the backing and quilt top are sprayed, fold them up and bring indoors to assemble the layers on a design wall. It doesn’t matter if you fold them right sides in or out. They will be sticky, but not stuck and you can easily unfold and the layers and peel them apart. You don’t need to baste right away, but I wouldn’t wait more than a few days to prevent the spray from drying out.

Quilt top and back with basting spray

It’s okay if the layers are a wadded-up mess. You’ll straighten them out next!

Step 2 – Assemble The Layers Indoors

Pin the quilt backing wrong side up to the top of the design wall (mine is made from foam insulation board covered with a white flannel sheet). Let gravity pull the weight of the fabric down. Gently un-stick any of the fabric sticking to itself and spend some time smoothing it all out with your hands or an acrylic ruler.

wall basting

For shorties like me, use a chair or step ladder to reach the top of the design wall.

Your hands will get a bit sticky, but the residue easily washes off with soap and water. Spend as much time as you need to straighten the backing so that it’s nice and smooth and flat on the design wall.

Smooth backing on the design wall

The backing is nice and smooth! Any small wrinkles will get ironed out later.

Fold the batting in half vertically and stick it on one side of the backing. Notice that I didn’t cut my batting perfectly straight on one edge and that’s okay. As long as the batting is larger than the quilt top, it’s easy to trim off any excess.

Wall basting - adding the batting

For this quilt I used Hobbs Tuscany Cotton/Wool blend batting. The cotton gives it a nice drape and the wool adds depth and dimension to the quilting without wrinkling up.

Unfold the batting and spend a good amount of time smoothing it out with your hands or a long acrylic ruler. My ruler can get a bit sticky so I have a separate one that I use just for basting. See the excess batting sticking out on the right side? I’ll trim that off with batting scissors before I add the quilt top.

Smoothing the layers

Spend 10-15 minutes smoothing out the batting. It’s okay to re-position it if needed. The ruler acts as an arm extension to help you cover more area while you smooth it all out.

Add the quilt backing right side out in the same manner as the backing. Pin generously and let gravity pull on the weight of the quilt top to get it to hang straight. This is why it’s so important for the batting and backing to be larger than the quilt top. Then you don’t have to make sure it’s lined up perfectly in the middle – you’ll have a bit of “wiggle room” to maneuver.

The excess batting and backing will get trimmed away later.

Spend a lot of time smoothing out the top layer once it’s on the wall. Use the acrylic ruler to help you work out any bubbles and ensure that the seam lines are nice and straight. Once your basted quilt is flat, smooth and straight, machine quilting it will be a breeze!

Bastd Modern Puzzle Quilt

Taking time to smooth each layer will make it much easier to machine quilt!

Step 3 – Iron the Basted Quilt

Here’s where the magic happens! Once the quilt is basted, I take it to the ironing board and press both sides of the quilt. This does two things: (1) it’s a final chance to press out any wrinkles and work out any fullness in the quilt. (2) It sets the glue and ensures that all 3 layers will stay together without shifting, eliminating the need to add any pins. You can still pull apart the layers if needed, but this process will ensure that every inch of the quilt is sticking to every other inch of the quilt.

Press the spray basted quilt

I use a “big board” which sits on top of my regular ironing board and gives me more room!

Once I switched to spray basting, I virtually eliminated any pleats and puckers on my quilt. Because there’s a lot of “scrunching and smooshing” going on while quilting, your basted quilt needs to be able to handle a lot of wear and tear while pushing it under the machine. It takes the same amount of time to baste a quilt with spray or pins, but you’ll save a huge amount of time by not having to stop and remove pins. Give spray basting a try and let me know how you like it!

I quilted Modern Puzzle using walking foot wavy lines, a technique I teach in my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Modern Puzzle Quilting Detail

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you end up making your own version of Modern Puzzle, please share pics in my Christa Quilts Facebook group. I’d love to see your progress!

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.

Favorite Tools – Kwik Klip for Basting

Since it’s almost time for my basting tutorial as part of my Modern Trees Quilt Along, I thought I would share one of my favorite tools that makes the job easier – a Kwik Klip.

These puppies have been around for awhile but I finally started using one after tearing up my fingers from previous basting attempts.

Pinning and Clipping

Pinning and Clipping

Kwik Klip is a simple wooden rod with a metal end with grooves in it. One of the grooves holds the end of the pin in place, so you can bring the head of the pin down to fasten it.

When I first tried it out, I did it wrong. I kept trying to use the tool to push up the pin to meet the head. But that is wrong – don’t do that! Instead, hold the Kwik Klip in one hand and push the pin down to close with the other hand. I’m right handed so I held the Kwik Klip in my left hand and pushed the safety pin with my right hand. Do what feels most comfortable.

Closing the Pin

Closing the Pin

Once I got the hang of it, basting went pretty quick. I put in a bunch of pins first and then closed them all at the end.

Just so you know, I used to use Pinmoors for basting with straight pins. Those are small silicon caps that go on the end of straight pins. They are nice because you can remove them quickly while sewing. However, I timed myself and realized it takes longer to put the pins in and add the caps than it does to push in a bunch of safety pins and close them.

Kwik KlipAfter basting several quilts, I prefer regular safety pins with a Kwik Klip.

And honestly, while quilting, it’s not a big deal to take a second or two to remove a pin. I’d rather save time on the basting end of it rather than during the pin removal process.

Christa’s Quilt Along 6.4 – String of Pearls Basting Tutorial

Today I will share with you how to baste your String of Pearls Quilt. This is probably my least favorite part of the quiltmaking process, but good basting is one of the keys to good machine quilting. The steps below apply to basting any large quilt.

Step 1 – Preparing the Backing (1-3 Hours)

Pieced BackingPlease refer to my pieced backing tutorial here or here for detailed instructions on how to prepare your backing for basting.

You can either choose a solid colored back or make one from pieced leftovers and scraps.

Be sure your quilt backing is at least 6″ bigger than your quilt top (3″ on all sides). Give your backing and quilt top a good final pressing before you begin basting with safety pins.

Hint: Starching your backing fabric helps prevent stretching and distortion while pin basting. I starch both sides.

Step 2 – Cutting Your Batting (10 minutes)

My favorite type of batting to use is Legacy Wool Batting. I like the extra fullness it gives to the quilt which really makes my machine quilting stand out.

Cutting the BattingUnfortunately batting is too bulky for me to carry in my quilt shop and ship, but you can get it reasonably priced from Amazon here. I have a large table that I can roll out and then cut the batting to size. Your kitchen table or floor may work well for this, too.

Hint: if your batting comes doubled and rolled, fold your top in half while measuring and cutting. That’s less bulk to deal with at one time. Just be sure you don’t cut the folded end off!

Step 3 – Laying out the Quilt for Basting (20 minutes)

Using a large surface area like a set of banquet tables or the floor, lay your backing out face down, wrong side up. Be sure to determine which end will be the top or bottom, especially if you are using directional fabrics or are utilizing a pieced backing design.

Binder Clip the EdgesUse large binder clips to secure the edges. Painter’s tape works well, too. Make sure the backing is smooth and remove any stray threads that you don’t want in your quilt! You want the backing to be secure, but not taut.

batting

My son helped me layout an earlier quilt with 2 layers of batting!

Next, lay down your batting. If you can get someone to help you lay down the batting without having to move it around too much, that will help. Notice you do not need to secure the batting.

Quarter the BattingIf you are doing this solo, quarter your batting first, then slowly unfold it half at a time and smooth it out as you go. Click the pictures below to see larger details.

Half the BattingFull Batting

Hint: be sure to put the scrim side facing down if your batting has one.

Finally lay out your quilt top and smooth it all out nicely. Again, fold your quilt top into quarters and lay it down wrong side up on one corner of the backing and batting. (And be sure to ignore my messing sewing space as you look at these pictures, LOL!)

Quarter TopHalf Top

Unfold the quilt top so that half of it is showing, then unfold it again and smooth it out. Be sure there is extra batting and backing around all four edges. You will trim this later.

String of Pearls BastingStep 4 – Pinning (1.5 Hours)

Even though I’m short (only 5′!) I can reach about half-way across my tables. If my quilt is bigger than this, I will baste in sections if needed. Starting on one side of the quilt, I like to sprinkle a few safety pins across the surface. (They are left open from the last time I quilted so I only need to close them once).

Safety Pin BastingI pin one quadrant at a time, about 2″ to 3″ apart. The more pins I add, the more stable my quilt is. I try not to pin through any seams. You can use a Kwik Klip basting tool or a grapefruit spoon to help close the pins and save your fingers!

Safety Pin BatingWhen I am finished pinning I will turn over the quilt to make sure I haven’t pinned in any puckers. Now it’s time to quilt!

Recommendation: Be sure to check out Cindy Needham’s online Machine Quilting Craftsy class called Design It, Quilt It. In addition to wonderful quilting instruction, she includes an excellent tutorial demonstrating basting using just one table, pinning one section at a time. It’s excellent!

Please continue to share pictures of your progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along. I’ve been enjoying seeing everyone’s beautiful work – I’m sure you’ll be inspired, too!

Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:

String of Pearls Quilt Along


Grab my Quilt Along button!

<div align="center"><a href="http://christasquiltalong.com" title="Christa's Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="https://christaquilts.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/christas-quilt-along-175-2.png" alt="Christa's Quilt Along" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Christa’s Quilt Along 5.7 – Hugs ‘n Kisses Safety Pin Basting

For today’s Quilt Along lesson, we will tackle basting which is usually the least fun part of making a quilt. However, I’m giving you a whole week to do it and it only took me 2 hours including ironing and lots of pinning!

Step 1 – Give your top and backing a final pressing (30 Minutes)

This is the first time I have used starch on a quilt throughout the entire process and I loved it! Not only did I press all of my seams open, I starched the completed top and back.

Before Final Pressing

Before Final Pressing

This really made the top lie flat and made it easier to baste. When starching the top for the final pressing, I only starched the back side, waited a few minutes to let the starch soak in, and went over every seam with my iron. Just take a look at the before and after pics to see what a difference pressing with starch makes.

After Final Pressing

After Final Pressing

Step 2 – Lay Out The Quilt Sandwich (15 Minutes)

Use a large flat surface to lay out your quilt. I have 2 long banquet tables that I purchased from an office supply store. I leave them up in my sewing loft all the time and use them as my cutting area, too. Before I got these tables I used to baste on my wooden kitchen table.

Quilt Backing


I use binder clips to secure two edges of the table and painter’s tape to secure the other two edges. You want the backing to be secure but not overly tight. If you have just one table to work with, secure the middle of the quilt, baste it, and then move on to the rest of the quilt, pinning one section at a time.

Add the BattingAdd the Top

Next, add your layer of batting and smooth it out and look for any stray threads. Then add your quilt top. I don’t secure either of these two layers – just the backing.

Step 3 – Pin Basting (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

I have learned that the key to good basting is using lots of pins! I start out by sprinkling a few safety pins on one side of the quilt. I leave them open after removing them from my previous quilt so they are already open, ready to be pinned.

Sprinkling of Pins

I divide the quilt into 4 areas and completely baste one section at a time. I put all of the pins into the quilt sandwich first, then go back and close them all. A band-aid really comes in handy on my index finger to protect it and help close the pins.

Baste the QuiltBand Aid for Protection


I used a variety of pins – some large, some small, some straight, some bent – whatever I had on hand. I pinned every other square.

Safety Pins

After pinning the entire quilt, I trimmed off the excess batting and backing fabric so there’s only an inch or two around all sides. The less fabric under the machine, the better!

Safety Pin Basting

Basted and Ready to Quilt!


Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt Kits are available for purchase while supplies last. If you have any questions about this week’s homework, please be sure to join my flickr discussion, leave a comment, or email me directly at christa@christaquilts.com.

Quilt Along Schedule – Links will go to each active post when published.

Hugs 'N Kisses

Hugs ‘N Kisses 48″ x 64″


Grab my Quilt Along button!

<div align="center"><a href="http://christasquiltalong.com" title="Christa's Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="https://christaquilts.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/christas-quilt-along-175-2.png" alt="Christa's Quilt Along" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.9 – Sea of Squares Binding by Machine

Free Quilt Pattern

New to my blog? Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free pattern!

Machine Binding

Today I am going to show you a quicker way to bind your quilt – by machine. Sometimes when I am in a hurry (like this week trying to finish all my quilting tasks before heading off to QuiltCon), a machine binding is just what I need!

It took me a total of 2 hours to bind this quilt using my home sewing machine. I love how it looked outside today with the quilt against the cloudy sky. A cool juxtaposition…

Sea of Squares Finished

Step 1 – Trim Your Quilt (10 Minutes)

Before binding, you want to start with a nicely trimmed edge, flush with your quilt. I don’t leave any batting peaking out. My method ends up with a fully stuffed, flat binding.

Using a large square ruler, I trim up all 4 corners first. If anything is out of alignment, I gently tug it back into place. Then I trim up all the sides with a long ruler.

Trim Corners FirstTrim the Sides


By starting with trimmed corners, I can match up the cutting lines so that things stay straight (as possible). You can throw your trimmings away or recycle them as pillow stuffing. 🙂

Step 2 – Calculate the Length of Binding Needed & Cut Strips (10 Minutes)

My favorite binding is called double fold straight grain binding, and it is super easy to make. You start off with strips of fabric, cut them on the straight of grain, then fold them in half twice to get the double fold. It holds up well especially on quilts that get a lot of use.

Measure the Perimeter

First, measure the perimeter of your quilt and add on 10 inches for corner folding, seams and “insurance.” In this case, my Sea of Squares quilt measures 50″ x 58″. It shrunk about 2 inches due to the intensity of the quilting on it.

I need a total length of 226 inches (50+50+58+58+10). If I divide this by 40 inches (the length of a fabric strip), I end up with 5.65 strips which I round up to 6 binding strips needed for this quilt. I cut all my strips 2.25 inches wide.

Binding Strips

Cut Six 2.25″ Wide Strips

For those of you sewing along using one of my Sea of Squares kits, binding fabric is included.

Step 3 – Sewing the Binding Strips Together (5 Minutes)

Join all of your binding strips into one long piece. Sew the ends on a mitered angle so that the bulk of the seam will be distributed more evenly. Be sure to cut one end of the binding on the same 45 degree angle. Fold the strips wrong sides together and press along the length with a dry iron.

Sew Continuous StripsFirst Fold

Before attaching to the quilt, I will pin part of the binding to one side, starting somewhere in the middle. Loosely walk the binding all the way around the quilt to ensure there will not be any mitered seams falling on the corners of your quilt.

Step 4 – Attaching the Binding to the Quilt (30 Minutes)

Sew from the front.Whether finishing the binding by hand or machine, this part is the same. Using coordinating or matching thread in top and bobbin, sew the binding to the front side of the quilt.

Starting with the binding on the angled end, leave a few inches of unsewn “tail” and use quarter-inch seams.

Be sure that you are sewing with the raw edges of the binding and the raw edges of the quilt in the seam. These will be covered with you flip your binding to the back.

You may wish to add a few pins to secure.

When you near a corner, be sure to mark a line 1/4″ away from the corner. Stop sewing at this line, then turn your quilt 90 degrees and sew off the edge.

Stop 1/4 inch from end.

Sew perpendicular to edge.


Flip the binding strip to create a 45 degree angle, pinch the excess, and then fold it back down. This creates the excess fabric allowing for a nice miter on both front and back of the quilt. Begin sewing the next side starting at the corner of your quilt. Repeat for all 4 corners.

Flip binding up.Flip binding down.


Leave about 6 inches of tail when you finish sewing. This will be joined next to create a continuous binding.

Step 6 – Joining the Ends Together (5 Minutes)

This is probably the trickiest part of the whole binding process. You want the ends to be joined with a nice miter seam that does not give any extra slack.

Leave a Tail

Open the Blunt End


Open both tail ends. Place the angled tail on top of the blunt tail and draw an erasable line along the edge of the angled tail where it meets the blunt end. You will need to account for both seam allowances, so cut 1/2 inch away from this line, keeping the 45 degree angle.

Trace the Angle

Now join the two ends together with 1/4″ seam. Use pins if needed and offset each of the triangle tips by about 1/4″. Finish attaching the binding to the front of the quilt.

Cut 1/2 inch wider.Pin ends and sew.


Step 7 – Binding by Machine (1 Hour)

I have a tendency to pull on my binding as I’m sewing, stretching  it and creating a wavy edge that needs to be blocked. By pinning first, this can eliminate most of the stretching.

Pin Binding

There are several different ways you can finish stitching the binding on by machine. For example, you can stitch in the ditch from the front side but only if you are absolutely sure you are catching the binding on the backside, too. You can stitch using straight lines or decorative stitches. Just sew slowly and be sure to catch the corners as you go around the quilt. A decorative stitch can hide a lot of mistakes!

For Sea of Squares I chose to use a reverse blanket stitch (similar to the regular blanket stitch I used for my machine applique table runner). The stitching won’t line up perfectly on the back but if you use a blending thread it won’t matter too much.

Sea of Squares Binding

Often times I have finished by quilting a decorative stitch from the backside, too.The picture below shows the binding I did on my first quilt-along, the Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt. I used one of my favorite stitches on my machine, a wavy serpentine stitch.

Jolly Jelly Roll QuiltI hope you have enjoyed following along as I made my Sea of Squares Quilt. I learned a lot from it and I encourage you to give this quilt a try. If you are currently working your way through your own version of Sea of Squares, I’d love to see it! You can share photos of your work in progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along.

Here is a picture of the back of Sea of Squares, showing all that machine quilted texture.

Backside of Quilt


Complete Quilt-Along Schedule for Sea of Squares
Click any of the links below and follow along at your own pace.

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.8 – Sea of Squares Extra Quilting

Free Quilt Pattern

New to my blog? Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free pattern!

Can you believe this quilt is almost done? Next week I will show you how to bind it by machine. The following week I will start all over with another brand new quilt-along. Here’s a hint for my next quilt: it requires 1 Jelly Roll and a 1 1/2 yards of background.

Extra Quilting

This week I added tons more quilting to my Sea of Squares quilt. I spent an extra 7 hours gleefully quilting along, adding loads of texture with straight slightly wonky lines using my walking foot. If I had planned ahead I would have quilted about an hour a day for 7 days. Instead, being the procrastinator I am, I did it all in one day, but it was still fun!

Step 1 – Quilting the Sash Rows (1 Hour 45 Minutes)

First I started with what was easy. I quilted parallel lines all going the same direction through all of the skinner sash rows. I worked my way across the quilt, one row at a time, flipping the quilt when there was too much bulk under the machine.

Quilt Parallel Lines

Step 2 – Quilting the Rest of the Rows (5 Hours, 15 Minutes)

Now it’s time to fill in the rest of the space. I quilted the rectangles with lines running perpendicular to the previous quilting lines. For the big squares I alternated directions. I quilted the print squares all one direction, and the solid squares the other way.

Quilt Perpendicular Lines

It was cold that day so I bundled up while quilting!

I wanted to try out the continuous reverse feature on my machine. I can push a button once and it will sew backwards until I push it again to stop (and I don’t have to keep my finger on the button). So I would quilt one line of quilting, then push the reverse button and quilt a line backwards without having to turn the quilt all the way around. It was great!

Reverse Quilting

It took about 1000 yards (2 spools) of thread just for the top. I used the same color in a thinner weight for the bottom so I wouldn’t run out of thread.

Quilting this quilt was very liberating for me. I did not mark the quilting lines because I wanted to add a touch of modernity to the quilt with more organic-looking texture. Once I let go of my perfectionist tendencies and got into the “waviness” of the lines, it set me free to enjoy the process. Jason is always telling me to go bold and let out my inner artist. So now I’m giving you the same permission!

Quitling Makes the Quilt

Be sure to take a look at my flickr group so that you can see the wonderful quilts being made by everyone else. And if you are working through any of my quilt-alongs, I’d love to see your progress!

In fact, Judith shared her version of Sea of Squares in beautiful brown and cream. Notice the wonderful quilting she did with wiggly lines across the surface and quilting motifs in the blocks. I love it when you can really make your quilt your own. Nice job, Judith!

Judith's Sea of Squares

Please share your pictures here:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/christasquiltalong/


Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.7 – Machine Quilting Sea of Squares

How are everyone’s quilts coming along? I sure am enjoying seeing pictures of your quilt-in-progress on my Christa’s Quilt Along flickr group.

For today’s post I will be showing how to quilt this quilt with a walking foot and straight lines. This is enough quilting to hold the quilt together and give it some definition. It took me a total of 5.5 hours to quilt this part of the quilt

I will be adding more quilting to my quilts because one of my quilting mottos is, “Quilt the heck out of it!” I will show that optional extra quilting next week.

Thread Choice

Thread ChoiceFor this quilt, I would like my quilt to have some definition but I don’t want the stitches to stand out too much. I selected a little bit heavier weight thread – a 40 weight polyester with larger quilting needle (size 90) to go with it.

I wound my bobbins with the same color but in a lightweight 60 weight polyester. I chose a cream thread because there is so much white in the quilt. The cream will blend into the white but It’s not quite as “stark” as white so it won’t be too bright against the blue fabrics.

Warm UpStep 1 – Warm Up Session (15 minutes)

It’s a good idea to practice on a scrap quilt sandwich first, even when quilting straight lines.

This way you can check tension, stitch length, and thread color before you begin.

Step 2 – Anchor Quilting (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

Before you get into any fancy-shmancy quilting, it’s a good idea to “anchor” your quilt first by quilting a few of the major seam lines. This will help stabilize your quilt. While doing this anchor quilting, you want to stabilize your quilt in all four directions. Think of this as a large grid across the top of your quilt. I can quickly and easily pull out the pinmoors as I quilt.

Begin Quilting

With the quilt laid out horizontally, I started quilting on one edge of the quilt. Using my walking foot as a guide, I stitched about 1/4 inch away from the ditch. I used a slightly longer stitch length and quilted continuously in one long row from the top of the quilt to the bottom. Because the lines go all the way across the quilt and the edges will be covered by the binding, I did not need to lock my stitches or tie them off.

Anchor Quilting

When I got the the end of this first line of quilting, I “scooted”  over a whole block width to the right (leaving less bulk under the machine). I quilted 2 more rows in the same manner.
Don’t quilt the very edges of the quilt yet; you can do that at the end.

Next, it was time to rotate the quilt 180 degrees and quilt some anchor lines on the other half of the quilt. Again, I quilted them about 1 block width apart. Now the quilt has been quilted in 2 directions. By the way, I love the Machingers quilting gloves because they provide a good grip on the quilt while moving and squishing it under the machine.

Anchor Stitching

It’s time to rotate the quilt 90 degrees and quilt all of the vertical anchor lines now. Again, start in the middle and quilt about 3 rows, one block width apart. Then rotate the quilt completely and finish off the other side.

The quilting is now ready to be finished.

Step 2 – Stitching all the Vertical Lines (1 Hour, 45 Minutes)

I like the “stitch near the ditch” pattern so much that I am outlining every seam about 1/4″ away from the center. I’m not too worried about whether my lines are perfectly straight so I didn’t worry about marking. My other quilt motto is, “Finished is better than perfect!”

Quilting Vertical Lines

Now I can start in the middle of the quilt and quilt all of the vertical lines halfway across the quilt edge of the quilt. When there is too much bulk under the machine, I rotate and finish the other side of the quilt.

Step 3 – Quilting all the Horizontal Lines (2 Hours, 15 Minutes)

This section took a little longer because there were more rows to stitch. Again, I quilted half of the lines going one way, then rotated the quilt to stitch the other half.

Quilting Horizontal Lines

On the very last row which was near the edge of my quilt, I actually quilted 1/2″ away from the seam line rather than 1/4″. This is to take into account the seam allowance which will be covered by the binding.

Edge Quilting

This is now enough quilting for this quilt, but as I said at the beginning, I will add more. Join me next week to see how I finish the rest of the quilting.

If you’d like to try something a little jazzier than just straight lines, why not play around with the decorative stitches on your machine?

Wavy Quilting

The picture above shows me quilting my Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt which was my first DIY Quilt Along. I used a wavy serpentine stitch which would also work well for Sea of Squares!


Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Quilt Kits are available from my shop for a limited time in these two colorways:

Apple Jacks

Apple Jacks

Sea of Squares

Sea of Squares

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.6 – Basting Sea of Squares

I finished my pieced backing from last week and now it’s time to baste Sea of Squares!

The backing took me 2 hours to cut, piece and starch. The basting also took 2 hours, so it was a very pleasant way to spend my day today. 🙂

Pieced Quilt Backing

Sea of Squares Pieced Backing

I follow these four steps whenever I baste a quilt:

(1) Completely secure the backing to a large flat surface. I use two heavy duty utility tables that I got from an office supply store. They are 8′ long and I keep them up all the time. It’s my work surface and my cutting area, plus the kids use them for art projects and homework. So they get a lot of use!
Secure The Backing

  • You can also use just one table if space is limited and move your quilt around as needed. I use office binder clips to secure the two edges of my backing to the edge of the table.
  • Then I use a generous amount of tape to secure the other edges. You want to make sure that your backing extends past your batting and quilt top by at least a couple of inches.

Batting (2) Next, layer your batting on top of your backing and smooth it out nicely.

I am using 1 layer of cotton batting with 1/2 layer of wool – yes, it actually pulls apart. (For my previous quilt, Charming Chevrons, I used a layer of cotton and a full layer of wool. I loved the “heft” of it but it was a bit thick to quilt through. I’ll let you know I like it.)

  • Notice that there is no need to secure the batting layer.

Sea of Squares Quilt

(3)  Grab a helper to gently lay your quilt top onto the center of your batting/backing layer.

If you are doing this solo, you can quarter your quilt instead and unfold it one quarter of a time. But I prefer a helper if I can manage it! If either your top or backing are directional, don’t forget to check to make sure your quilt is oriented correctly before you begin.

Add the PinsCap with Pinmoors


(4) Finally, let the basting begin! I prefer to use flat flower pins and pinmoors to baste. I insert the pins in the quilt first, one section at a time. Then I cap them all with pinmoors.

  • With my table, I can reach all the way to the center of the quilt, so I can baste half of the quilt from one side; then I finish up on the other side.

Pinmoor Basting

A note about Pinmoors…

Pinmoors are a bit pricey but are well worth the investment. If you’d like to try them, I suggest buying one package and baste as much area as you can. Then, baste the rest of the quilt with regular safety pins.

When you are done quilting, take note of how much quicker and easier the pins and pinmoors were to remove versus regular safety pins!

One note of caution – if you move and scrunch your quilt under your machine like I do, watch for any pinmoors that accidentally fall off so you don’t get poked! Be sure to push the pins in far enough so that they are secure.

Now the quilt is ready for quilting next week. Be sure to post pictures of your quilt top, pieced backing or quilting on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along.

You can also share pictures of any of my previous quilt-alongs that you are working on!


Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Quilt Kits are available for a limited time in these two colorways:

Apple Jacks

Apple Jacks

Sea of Squares

Sea of Squares