Spray Basting Your Quilts

Posted by on Mar 16, 2013 in Quilting | Comments


Have you ever heard a quilter say that basting is their favorite part of quilting? More often than not, basting is just a necessary part of the quilt-making process, and not some form of creative expression. There are several methods for basing. Many quilters swear by pin basting, and others like to secure a quilt sandwich with long, loose stitches. Here, we’ll discuss the option of spray basting your quilts.

Spray Basting Quilts

If you’ve ever tried spray basting, you may know that it’s a quick and effective way to baste your quilt backing, batting and top. Basting spray, a repositionable adhesive specially formulated for fabric, is sold by the can in many craft stores and quilting shops. There are a few different types of quilt basting spray on the market. June Tailor Quilt Basting Spray, Dritz Basting Spray and 505 Spray and Fix are three different brands that I’ve heard recommended from quilters.

To Spray or Not to Spray?

Like most basting methods, spray basting has its pros and cons. Here are some of the most common praises and complaints:
+ Quick: With basting spray, it’s possible to baste a twin sized quilt in about 10 minutes without using a single pin.
+ Effective: According to quilters who swear by basting spray, it produces far fewer wrinkles than pin basting. Pin basting can introduce more wrinkles than spray basting, according to the many quilters that swear by it.
- Dangerous: Unless you are spraying outside or in a well-ventilated area, the fumes from spray basting a quilt can be harmful to breathe in. Spray basting should be avoided all together if you are pregnant. You should also keep spray-basting cans away from a hot iron or open flames (and away from children, for that matter), since the substance is flammable.
- Costly: A can of basting spray costs can cost as much as $13 (US$) for a 10-ounce can or more for a large can. Depending on how lightly your spray, many quilters can baste several quilts from one can. Kristie can spray baste five baby quilts or two larger quilts from a small can.

How to Spray Baste Your Quilt

There are a few different ways to spray baste your quilt, but here is the method I regularly use. To prepare your quilt top, batting and backing, make sure the batting is 2” wider than the quilt top on each side. The quilt backing should ideally be an additional 2” wider than the batting on each side.

Spray Basting Quilts - Spreading out the Quilt

1. Spread out the quilt back on the floor, with the right side facing down. If you have a hardwood or laminate floor, secure the corners with masking or painter’s tape. Add tape to the sides if needed. If you are working on carpet, secure the corners of the quilt back to the carpet with T pins. If you have the ability to use two clean 5′ trestle tables outside, all the better.

Spray Basting a Quilt - Pressing

2. Center the quilt batting on top of the quilt back. Press the batting smooth with an iron.

Spray Basting Tutorial - Folding Back the Quilt

3. Fold back the top half of the quilt batting, so you can start spray basting from the center. You’ll generally want to use a circular motion and hold the can about 12” above the surface, but check the instructions on your can. Apply a light coat of basting spray on the quilt batting you’ve just pulled back (the center section). Once you’ve sprayed a horizontal section (left to right) about 6” wide, carefully place the sprayed batting down on the quilt back and smooth out the wrinkles with your hands. Lift up batting and spray the next 6” horizontal section until you reach the end of the quilt. Repeat with the batting on the other half of the quilt.

Spray Basting Quilting - Centering the Quilt

4. With the right side facing up, center the quilt top on the quilt batting. Fold back the top half of the quilt top. Begin spraying a 6” section of the batting. Lift up the quilt top and smooth it over the section you just sprayed. Repeat by spraying in sections until you reach the end.

Spray Basting - Folding Back the Bottom of the Quilt

5. Fold back the bottom half of the quilt top. Starting again at the center, spray a 6” section of the batting. Smooth the quilt top over the section you just sprayed, and repeat until you reach the end.

Spray Basting the Quilt

6. Starting at the center of each sprayed section, smooth out the wrinkles with your hand as you move along the quilt top and out to the sides of the quilt.

Quilt Spray Basting - Smoothing the Fabric

7. If any wrinkles appear, have no fear. Basting spray is repositionable, so it’s easy to just pick up the section where you see the wrinkle, and place it again, smoothing out the fabric with your hand.

Spray Basted Quilt - Finished

8. Ideally, the batting will be a bit longer on each side than this example, but this is what your spray basted quilt should look like. When you are ready to quilt it, simply remove the taped quilt from the floor and take it to the sewing machine! If you spray basted the quilt very lightly, you might try securing the layers with just a few safety pins.

Spray Basting Tips and Variations

  • Save Your Lungs: If you are pregnant or worried about inhaling the fumes, try wearing a mask especially made for toxic fumes. Ashley at Film in the Fridge suggests wearing a heavy-duty mask if spray basting in the house.
  • Spray Outdoors: Rachel at Stitched in Color shares a method of spray basting your quilt outside with the help of a clothesline. You can do the dirty work outside and bring your sprayed batting indoors to complete the spray basting.
  • Save Your Floors: Hollie at The Undercover Crafter tapes newspaper pages to her hardwood floor before spray basting a quilt, to keep the floor from getting sprayed.
  • Skip the Tape: Worried about taping your floors? In a guest post at Chasing Cottons, Kristie suggests laying dumbbells on each corner of the batting to hold it in place. With four weights, your backing and batting shouldn’t budge.

Whether or not you’ve tried spray basting, I hope this gives you some new tips for basting your quilts!

You might also enjoy our post on how to use glue in quilting (there are several ways!)

So quilters, what’s your favorite way to baste?

Comments

  1. gale says:

    My concern is mostly with fumes. I like Rachel’s idea of doing it outside on the clothesline. I may have to get myself a clothesline.

    1. Dona says:

      I like the idea of the clothesline, but wonder how you can get everything smooth with no solid backing. Suggestions?

  2. Rosemary says:

    These are obviously not “green” products so I avoid them since I am chemically sensitive.

    1. Sue says:

      I too was concerned over the fumes etc. I found a temporary spray adhesive called “sulky KK 2000″ green lid. It is non-flammable, non-toxic, odorless and clear. Ozone friendly and no CFC’s or HCFC’S. More about it on the Sulky website. Doesn’t have as much overspray as some others as you also spray closer to the fabric. It states it will last 2-5 days but after just finishing a baby quilt the adhesive was still sticking after that. It costs a couple dollars more than some others but was able to get it 50% off on sale so the price isn’t an issue. I have also used the 505 spray which works well also but now prefer this one.

  3. Valerie says:

    Oh my gosh – this makes the process look so much less intimidating! I wonder if you could use this method on other small quilting projects… I think so!! Thanks for this post. :)

    1. judy says:

      I have used this method for several years. I am a little older and i can get down on the floor but if i do i don’t get up….. so i have a big wall that i had my SIL put carpet padding on with staples and i use that to spray baste my quilts. I also use it for my design wall.
      I fold half and spray using pins to hold the batting and fabric. I then stabilize the quilt by stitch in the ditch on a few vertical and horizontal lines, then i can quilt as i choose with full confidence.

  4. Joanie says:

    I am assuming that the iron used in this is with no heat.

    1. Lindsay says:

      Good question! I used the iron to smooth out the fabric and batting with heat BEFORE spraying. After spraying, I find that I can smooth out the layers pretty well using my hands.

  5. Leslie from Alabama says:

    I like the idea of spray basting, but it frightens me.
    Seriously, how do you deal with the overspray? I’ve used spray paint before, and you get paint EVERYWHERE! What happens when that spray adhesive ends up on your cabinet doors, countertops, cooking surfaces…?

    1. Birgit says:

      The overspray can be wiped off with a wet cloth. I use a class table top to baste my smaller quilts and just wipe the class down after spaying. You might want to put an old sheet down first, and then you can always wash the sheet afterwards, news paper with you can then throw away.

  6. Rosalee says:

    I spray baste my quilts and works great! Thanks!

  7. elle says:

    I spray the backing and quilt top, not the batting. It takes more spray glue to spray the batting than the top or the back. I was taught to use spray glue when I started quilting in 2002 and have never pin-basted a quilt. Sometimes I will add a few pins around the edges to stablize the quilt sandwich.

  8. Jody says:

    How about batt that’s fusible on both sides, no mess ! Our gals at QoV from the Heartland, have had GREAT success enabling them to complete quilts on domestic machines !

  9. WasaNewbieJean says:

    How soon can you pick up the sprayed quilt and quilt it?

    1. wtfrail says:

      I’m pretty sure the last thing I spray basted (a quilted tree skirt) I went right to the machine with. It worked wonders. And I didn’t bother to shell out the $$ for quilt basting spray, I just used Elmer’s spray adhesive in a can. Wouldn’t do that for a bedspread, but for the tree skirt, it worked wonderfully (other than the overspray on the floor – use newspapers!)

      1. Jane B says:

        I also use the Elmer’s White School Glue. Buy glops just before school starts when it is on sale. Works wonderful and WAY less expensive and no fumes. Use it basically just how the smelly spray is used. Only caution I have found is smooth any globs that may exist and use a gentle smooth squeeze to get a thin line of glue. Iron to heat set the glue. Wash quilt after completion!

  10. Julia S says:

    Just wanted to add that Therm O Web who makes HeatnBond interfacings also makes a great basting spray…SpraynBond which is my choice for a Basting Spray! http://www.thermowebonline.com

  11. Beverly Cotton says:

    I started quilting 2 yrs. ago. I followed Patsy Thompson On a YouTube video about spray basting. No other way to go for this step in quilting. I use 505 Temporary spray which is odorless. I place old sheets on my basement floor or ping pong table, & tape them down. I lay the “backing” right

  12. Wendy D says:

    I love the basting sparay–makes it so much easier to quilt my own quilts
    I leave the doors wide open when I am spraying .
    I have tile floors and it works well.

  13. Beverly Cotton says:

    … side down. Spray whole backing. You can either fold the batting in quarter, for ease of handling, or flip,like a sheet, over the batting. Do several times in various areas to get it evenly placed. LIGHTLY smooth from center outward. Lift and smooth again where a crease appears. Spray batting and repeat same procedure for adding quilt top. Trim backing & batting to at least 4″ around. Fold overage of backing & batting up to quilt top edge & safety pin (keeps tacky backing & batting out of way). Pick up your quilt sandwich right away, carry it to you sewing room and get to work! Really eliminates puckers & pinches. Plus you have totally open space (no pins) to quilt in any space -non stop!

  14. margaret valsechi says:

    I use the spray basting for small quilts and find it so helpful and its a faster way to get my quilting done

  15. Julie Scriver says:

    I use 505 with great results and I do it the same way as in the pictures. takes about 5 minutes to dry. I do use a few pins just to secure the edges. I didn’t use it on my last quilt (don’t know why) and I had a few puckers on the back side to deal with. Great product!

  16. Grace says:

    I use an old bedspread over my guest bed. I pin the backing down to the bedspread at the top and bottom so that it doesn’t move when I spray baste. If there is any overspray, I can just throw the bedspread in the washer. I like it better at this height so that I am not on my knees on a hard floor. The bed is easy to walk around and is more at eye level. I have been spray basting for years and never had any reaction to the chemical. Not any difference then hairspray.

  17. Patti Falo says:

    I have been using spray adhesive for a long tome. I was a screen printer and used it to keep t-shirts in place. I have not used any other method since the 90s….quick and simple. Have never had a problem.with fumes. Just remember a little goes a long ways.

  18. Pat says:

    I use a piece of plywook on sawhorses to put my quilts on. I clamp the edges if the backing is big enough, otherwise clamp what I can and tape the rest. I spraybaste with any brand I happen to have, but I usually pin the edges–just in case;

  19. moira says:

    I have heard say not to spray baste for a baby cot quilt, does it wash out immediately, or does the spray stay in the quilt for a while that worries me a bit

  20. K McKee says:

    I use a ping pong table for all my spray basting – easier on the back. I have a collection of hardware store clamps which I use to hold the backing in place on the table. Be careful to smooth but not stretch the backing. I also spread old sheets on the floor to catch the overspray. I do have some trouble with free motion quilting after spray basting – it wants to skip stitches. But the convenience outweighs the skips.

  21. Kathy Toms says:

    Ive machine quilted right after spraying.

  22. Maria says:

    This is great!! Thank you for the info. I’m at the stage of putting my first quilt together. Was feeling intimidated, not so much now. A note to Grace – the bed idea is great….thanks!!!

  23. moira says:

    Hi was just wondering have been told not to spray baste baby cot quilt, could somebody tell me yes or no. thanks in anticipation

  24. Judy says:

    Thanks! That is very useful info since I will be putting together a quilt soon, my first.

  25. Connie says:

    Sulky KK2000 adhesive spray is friendlier to you and to the planet. Plus it is Odorless!

  26. Lynn Parker says:

    I’ve been spray basting for many years. There is definitely residue left on the floor from the overspray, and it cannot just be wiped up. I always put a sheet down first that’s bigger than the quilt. It can easily be washed. I try to wash any baby quilts before sending them.

  27. DebV says:

    I have used the Heat n Bond spray on twin size quilts with good results. You can find it at Walmart for around $10. I have also used others but do not see anything better about the more expensive ones – I know others will disagree.
    I have never done the pinning at the edge, but am going to try that for the larger quilts. From all the moving around while quilting, the edges do get loose sometimes. Maybe I will even throw a few down the middle if the quilt is large enough.
    Spray basting is great with something small that you are not rolling up and stuffing through a home size machine. I find that even if you have to throw in a pin or two, or respray if it is coming apart, it is much faster than pin or stitch basting.

  28. Linda says:

    Moira, Yes, the basting spray does wash out (I use 505). Since all new items for a baby should be washed before using, it isn’t going to be a problem. Just iron it well after washing and it will be fine.

  29. Nancy says:

    Be careful about using other products not labeled for fabric. Early in my quilting career I ran out of spray baste and finished using scrapbooking spray glue. I was unable to do free motion quilting in that area because of skipped stitches. Using the proper product, I have successfully sprayed up to a queen size quilt. Thanks for the bed idea. I will be using that one for sure!

  30. Lori says:

    I pin mine to the wall and spray with it on the wall. It hangs pulling out the ripples. No back breaking crawling around. I learned it from a You Tube video.

  31. frances ensing says:

    I spray baste and find it is far superior to just pin basting which I tried and found to many wrinkles to deal with. I have also discovered a fuseable batting by Hobbs and really love how it works; and no mess to deal with.

  32. Judith McLean says:

    I have used almost every kind of spray adhesive, and I find at times that the adhesive will gum up the needle when machine quilting large surfaces. It doesn’t happen every time, and I try to have a light hand, but this is one of the complications of adhesive spray.

  33. Sharon Schakel says:

    I love spray basting and have used several brands. The only problem I have had is being too free with the spray and it gummed up the needle, which had to be cleaned with a goo off product. Now I’m more thrifty with the amount of spray I apply. If I have to spray indoors, I use an old shower curtain and spray small areas only and with the window open. I was warned about breathing fumes and sticking your lungs together, so I try to spray in the garage or patio. Also, I don’t want overspray to reach my sewing machine or computer hard drive and make them gummy. So be cautious and save lots of time for a more perfect quilt.

  34. Ellen Zurn says:

    I have used 505 Spray for 10 years. I use tables to sandwich my quilts and put old sheets down on the floor to prevent overspray getting on the floor. If by chance you do overspray, 505 makes a glue remover in a spray. I have used it on my table when I sprayed a small wall hanging and didn’t have it protected enough. I had two queen size quilts sprayed with 505 and didn’t get them quilted until five years later and they were still tacky enough to quilt without respraying.

  35. Leanne says:

    I am making a quilt, and have spray basted with an adhesive that does say its for fabric, I got wrinkles and have tried to lift to reposition however, in some spots its trying to tear the batting, what can I do if I already have wrinkles to remove them?

  36. Tonya Peters says:

    Thank you so much for this awesome post! I HATE basting my quilts. I’ve used the basting pins and I can never get it tight enough so there are always wrinkles of some sort. Plus I’ve noticed they leave holes in my quilt top. Not cool! I bought a can of the Dritz basting spray at Wal-Mart today, it was around $9. I’m making a signature quilt for my friend for her wedding in a couple weeks and I want it to look really nice since I don’t have time/money to have it quilted by someone with a quilting machine. I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to quilt as I go, but I’m not sure I like that idea. I think this will work much better. The pictures help a lot too!

  37. Stacey says:

    I wonder if you could use this method with a quilt as you go strip quilt???

  38. Janet says:

    I just used 505 to spray baste a queen sized quilt. Where has this stuff been all my quilting life?? I will never ever baste another way. It took 20 minutes start to finish, no wrinkles.

    Two things, maybe three: first, spraying the back and front, NOT the batting, was a huge help. Ignore anything that tells you to spray batting. Second, get help. My husband and one of his friends held the batting up while I smoothed it a few inches at a time (the backing was sprayed outside then taped to the floor), and the same with the top. It helped so much to have them hold the material out of the way so that it could go down evenly. And third, use a topstitching needle in your machine. I have a Pfaff 2056 Quilt Edition, and nothing has gummed up or even slowed down. Spraying lightly helped.