Christa’s Quilt Along – Abacus Week 4: Basting

Good news: Abacus is now available as a stand alone pattern for just $4.95! Click here to purchase. (You don’t need the pattern for the quilt along, but I know many of you would prefer to print it off and keep by your sewing machine.)

abacus_quilting_finished

Basting is probably everyone’s least favorite part of the quilt-making process, and I think I know why. Recently I helped my friend make a small baby quilt and we basted it on her kitchen floor because she didn’t want to scratch up her table. What an awful process! I would never do that again, LOL!!

spray_basting_5Tables are the best for basting – use one, two, or your kitchen table – just not the floor!

Yes, it takes up a lot of room to baste on a table, and in my friend’s case, you may not want to scratch up your table. I suggest getting some plastic folding tables like those above that can be stashed in a garage or closet. Or keep some large pieces of cardboard to protect your kitchen table if needed. You don’t need a huge table – you can move the quilt around as needed, but please, get up off the floor! 🙂

For today’s basting tutorial, it took me a total of 1 1/4 hours to safety pin baste the three layers. Click here for my tutorial on spray basting (outside or in a well ventilated room – on a table!)

Step 1 – Prepare your batting and Backing Fabric (1/2 hour)

You want to make sure there are about 2-3 extra inches of backing and batting around all 4 sides. My quilt top is 32″ x 32″. Therefore my batting should about least 34″ x 34″ and my backing should be about 36″ x 36″.

table_baste_1Dining Room Table Basting – Checking to see that my backing is bigger than my top.

If using cotton batting, give it a quick press to work out any wrinkles. You want the quilt sandwich to be as flat as possible. Also, starch your backing fabric before you baste to make it extra slippery. This will come in handy when machine quilting.

Step 2 – Pinning the Quilt (3/4 hour)

Lay your backing right side down on a table. Tape down the edges of the quilt with masking tape or painter’s tape. You can also use binder clips if your table isn’t too thick. You want the backing to be secure but not taut. Only tape down the backing, not the other layers.

table_baste_2All 3 layers ready to go for basting! I will smooth out the wrinkles next.

Lay your batting on top of your backing. Get someone to help you if possible, so you can lay it down smoothly. Add your top, right side up. Before pinning, take a few minutes to smooth out the layers with your hands or a long ruler.

table_baste_3Using a ruler to smooth out the wrinkles and align the rows into place.

Starting anywhere on your quilt, drop a bunch of safety pins on the top to work with. I recommend using size 1 nickel plated safety pins. I left them open from the last quilt so they are ready to go. The usual recommendation is to pin about 5″ apart. However, I find that I get fewer tucks and wrinkles when I pin closer, about 2″-3″ apart. For this quilt I only pinned in the background sections, not in the circles.

table_baste_4Pin an entire section, then go back and close the pins. This quilt was small enough that I pinned the entire top before closing the pins. A Kwik Klip comes in really handy for this. Click here to see how to use one.

Work you way across the quilt, pinning one section at time. When the quilt is fully pinned, remove the tape and check the backing to make sure you haven’t pinned in any tucks. Then trim off some of the extra batting and backing so there’s less bulk under the machine.

table_baste_5Now you are ready to quilt! There, now,  that wasn’t too bad, was it? Remember, I encourage you to work at your own pace. However, if you finish your quilt (or even just the top) by November 10th, I’ll be happy to feature it on my blog in my parade of quilts! 🙂

Click here for all of the Abacus Quilt Along Tutorials.