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!

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.