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

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.6 – Marking and Basting the Chevrons

Grid MarkingAlthough basting a quilt is my least favorite “chore” of the whole quilting process, it’s a necessary step so I can get to my most favorite part which is the machine quilting. I always have better results if I take the time to properly mark and baste my quilt.

It took me a total of 2.5 hours to mark the top and prepare my quilt for machine quilting.

This doesn’t include the time it took to sew my quilt backing which took an additional 1.5 hours.

I wrote a separate pieced quilt backing tutorial where I could show off my “back art”.

Step 1 – Marking The Quilt Top (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

If I know the design I’m going to quilt ahead of time, I will mark my lines before I baste, using a water-soluble blue marking pen. (Test ahead of time to be sure your marks will come out and that your fabrics are color-safe.)

June Tailor Grid Marker

For my Charming Chevrons, I chose to mark a set of grid lines following the outline of the chevrons. I used a June Tailor grid marker to speed up the process. I drew my lines so that they were about 1/2″ apart. I marked the top at my dining table while watching a movie with the family!

Step 1 – Preparing to Baste (30 Minutes)

Be sure your backing is at least 3″-4″ larger than your quilt top on all sides. (Professional long-armers need even more space than this but since I know you will all be quilting your own quilts, you can get away with less space if you are careful with your layout!)

Roll of Batting

Roll out your batting if cut from a roll, and cut it a couple of inches bigger than your quilt top. If you are using a packaged batting, be sure to unfold it and air it out a day or two before you begin to remove as many wrinkles as possible.

Be sure you have a nice big area for basting. You can use the floor, your kitchen table, a couple of utility tables, or even some tables thrown together at your local library or quilt shop.

Give your backing a final pressing before laying it out. Remove any excess threads and smooth it out a flat as you can onto your basting surface. Clamp or tape down all sides of your quilt backing. I use binder clips on two sides of the quilt where the backing meets the edge of the table. I tape down the other two sides.

Layer 1 Quilt Backing

Layer 1 – Quilt Backing

Spread out your batting onto your quilt backing. Again, smooth it out so there are no wrinkles and puckers. You don’t need to clamp down the batting. For my quilt I am experimenting with a double batting. I laid down a layer of Warm-N-Natural Cotton, then a layer of Wool on top of that. I’ll let you know how I like it when it comes to quilting!

Layer 2 Quilt Batting

Layer 2 – Quilt Batting

Finally, spread out your quilt top as smoothly as possible. Since I use two tables to baste, I use the center between the tables as my reference point for where the middle is. This helps me keep the quilt top straight.

Layer 3 Quilt Top

Layer 3 – Quilt Top

Step 3 – Pin Basting (45 Minutes)

Pinmoors for Quilt BastingI mention this every time I get to this step of the quilting process, but I really love Pinmoors for basting!

They go into the batting quickly and come out super easy when machine quilting.

You get 50 per pack and it took just over 3 packs (168 to be exact) to baste my Chevrons quilt. I put one pin and Pinmoor anchor in each colored triangle and that was enough for this size quilt.

Because my batting was a little thicker, the longer flower pins worked great for getting through all the layers.

Trim the Excess

The last step before I begin quilting is to trim up the extra couple of inches around the quilt.

I don’t cut off all the excess, but I do trim it up pretty close so I have less bulk going under the arm of the machine.

I am super excited to quilt this puppy!

Be sure to email me pictures of your progress – it’s so fun to see all the variety!


Quilt Along Schedule (Links are active once each step has been completed.)

Christa’s Quilt Along 2.4 – Marking and Basting Baby Bricks

I finished the pretty pink version of Baby Bricks this week to go along with the baby blue top that I will be basting today.  (Kits are available for both colors for a limited time.)

Before I get to the most fun part of making a quilt in my opinion – the machine quilting – I’ve got to get them marked and basted! Today’s demo will be shown on the blue version.

Girl Baby Bricks

Step 1 – Marking Diagonal Lines

For the boy version of Baby Bricks I am going to quilt straight lines with a walking foot.  I used a water soluble blue marking pen to draw the quilting  lines. (If you are afraid of fabric bleeding or do not want to mark your quilt, you can use low-adhesive painter’s tape instead.)

Straight Lines

Using my longest ruler, I marked straight lines across the surface of the quilt. I started in one corner and drew a line from corner to corner of a rectangle brick. I extended the line so that it goes across the entire quilt including the borders. I spaced them 3 1/2 inches apart.

Additional Marked Lines

I added an additional line half-way in between so that the spacing of the lines is now 1 3/4″.  It took a total of 45 minutes to completely mark the top. Now the quilt is ready to baste.

Step 2 – Piecing the Backing

I enjoy pieced backs much more than plain ones. This satisfies my urge to go a little “wonky” with some improvisational piecing on the back. It took about 1/2 hour to sew together.

Pieced Backing

I put the back together sort of like a puzzle, adding chunks of fabric until I had a large enough piece. For this quilt I used up my the rest of my light blue solid, a few leftover bricks, and some pieces from my stash. It took about 2 yards total.

For more detail on sewing a pieced back, refer to my previous tutorial here.

Step 3 – Basting With Pinmoors

My preferred basting tools are Pinmoors and straight pins. It took about 1 hour and 100 Pinmoors to baste this baby sized quilt. You can read my previous basting tutorial here.

Basted with Pinmoors

I get better results when I use lots of pins and am careful not to pin through any quilting lines. It’s easier to stick the pin in the quilt and cap it with a Pinmoor, than it is to open and close lots of  safety pins. The Pinmoors are easy take out while quilting, but they stay in place until I’m ready to remove them.

I am going to take this quilt with me to my guild’s quilting retreat this weekend. With any luck, I’ll get it finished quickly and can start on the pink one.

Here is the schedule of tutorial posts for my Baby Bricks do-it-yourself quilt along:

Christa’s Quilt Along 1.4 – Backing and Basting Your Jelly Roll Quilt

Welcome to part 4 of my do-it-yourself quilt along! So far we’ve gathered our supplies, sewn the blocks, and completed our quilt tops. This week we will piece our backings and baste our quilts so that our Jolly Jelly Roll Quilts are ready for machine quilting next week!

Step 1 – Piecing the Backing

Backing DiagramIf you use one fabric entirely for your backing, sew together two lengths of fabric so that your piece is at least 5 inches longer and wider than your quilt.

For a 52″ x 52″ quilt top you would need 3 1/2 yards of fabric for the backing. Cut that into 2 equal pieces, each measuring 63″ long by 42″ wide. Sew those together on the selvedge edges with a half inch seam and you’ll get one piece that is about 63″ x 80″ – plenty of room!

I wrote up a post a few weeks ago on how to make a pieced quilt backing. With more than one fabric. You can read about that by clicking here.

Pieced Quilt BackFor my backing, I chose to use up all of my leftover jelly roll blocks plus some other chunks of fabric, about 3 yards total, to make it a little more artistic.

I sewed two rows of leftover blocks, then filled in with strips of pink and grey fabric from my stash.

The pink on the sides is much wider so a bunch of it will be trimmed off later.

(Don’t mind the wrinkles – I finished it just last night!)

Step 2 – Layering the Quilt

Basting TablesThe most important thing you need for successful basting is plenty of room! I have two 8-foot tables set up in my sewing room at all times. I use them for cutting and basting.

First, you need to secure your backing; this is why you want it to be larger than your quilt top.

I do this by using office clips to secure the backing to the table. I use tape when the quilt backing does not reach the edge.

Clamp Down the BackingTape the EdgesNext, it’s time to spread out the batting. I used Warm-N-Natural cotton batting which does have a right and wrong side. The side with the flakes is the front side and the whiter side is the back side. Layer it right side up.

You can start with your batting folded up in one corner, then unfold the batting one step at a time if you are basting by yourself. Be sure to smooth it down so there are no wrinkles.

Batting 1Batting 2Batting 3You can click each of the pictures for a larger more detailed view.

Finally, it’s time to add the top! I don’t clamp down the top, but I do smooth it out and line it up as much as I can so that it is as straight and square as possible.

Layered QuiltStep 3 – Basting the Quilt

Now it’s just a matter of pinning the layers together so they won’t shift during quilting. My favorite basting tools are Pinmoor pin anchors. They are little  rubber tips that fit on the end of straight pins. You can use any types of pins with them and the pins can jab anywhere into the hard rubber piece. They last forever and are so much easier to use than safety pins.

Pinmoor BastingIt took me about 150 Pinmoors to baste this quilt in under 20 minutes. If you are not ready to buy enough for a whole quilt, start with one package and baste part of your quilt. Baste the rest of your quilt with safety pins. Then, when quilting, take note of how much easier the pins and Pinmoors are to remove and you will be converted!

Here’s a great video you can watch on how to use them, made by the makers of Pinmoors.

Next week  we will machine quilt this baby! That’s the best part of my do-it-yourself quilting tutorial; you are actually going to do it all yourself – no quilting by check here!!

Remember to send me pictures of your completed quilt tops. You can email me directly at Christa@ChristaQuilts.com. It’s “sew” fun to share!


Here is the complete Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt-Along Schedule:

Week 1 – Supply ListJolly Jelly Roll Quilt

Week 2 – Sewing the Blocks

Week 3 – Completing the Top

Week 4 – Backing and Basting

Week 5 – Machine Quilting

Week 6 – Machine Binding to Finish