Basting in sewing is a technique that will help to keep two or more fabric layers from shifting while you sew. It typically involves sewing a row of long, loose stitches, either by hand or by machine.
When quilting, however, there are a few additional options to baste, or temporarily join, the layers. To use any of these basting methods for your quilt, you’ll first want to combine the quilt top with the batting and the backing, which is also called making a “quilt sandwich.”
Here are four basting techniques to try:
Photo via Vintage Modern Quilts
Method 1: Pin basting
One of the most popular methods of basting in sewing and quilting is to use safety pins. Although pin basting can be time-consuming, it's a good way to ensure that the quilt layers remain in place during quilting. It works for small to large quilts.
To get started pin basting a quilt, first tape down the corners of the quilt back on the floor or a table. In the video below, Craftsy instructor Wendy Butler Berns, recommends using 1 1/2” safety pins or 1 1/2” curved basting pins. These are just the right size for pin basting quilts and do not leave large holes in the quilt top. To baste a twin-size quilt, Wendy recommends you plan to use at least 100 safety pins.
Learn more basting tips from Wendy in her class Machine Quilting: Free-Motion & More.
Photo via A Quilty Kind of Girl
Method 2: Fuse basting
You can also use a fusible product to help baste your quilts. Large cuts of a double-sided fusible, such as Misty Fuse, can be used on both sides of the batting to fuse the quilt sandwich. Although this method can add to your materials cost, it can also be a time-saver according to Bradie at A Quilty Kind of Girl.
Strips of fusible tape, such as Steam-A-Seam 2, can be used to create small basting tacks between the backing, batting and quilt top. Nancy Zieman demonstrates this method in this video of various basting techniques. She uses a mini iron to apply small squares of the tape on the wrong side of the quilt top and backing fabric. After the paper is removed from the basting tacks, the quilt sandwich is pressed and fused. Nancy prefers to use this method on small- to medium-sized quilts.
Method 3: Spray basting
If you’re not interested in these techniques, there’s the time-saving option of spray basting your quilts. This works well for small quilting projects like mini quilts, mug rugs or wall quilts. Basting sprays can also be used on larger quilts, however, like this crib quilt pictured above.
To spray baste a quilt, begin in the center of the project. Lightly spray the wrong side of the backing fabric, moving the can outward to one corner. Once the backing is attached to the batting, you’ll repeat the process by spraying onto the other side of the batting and pressing the quilt top to it.
Photo via Hobby Stash
Method 4: Hand basting
This method of basting a quilt works best for quilters that plan to hand quilt their projects. Linda of the blog Hobby Stash uses a three-finger-length herringbone stitch. “I was amazed at how much faster it went basting rather than pinning,” she says.
Both Linda and quilter Sharon Schamber used a board basting method to stack out the quilt layers; two wooden boards allow them to roll out the quilt evenly. The quilt can then be hand stitched with long, loose stitches. During hand quilting, you can remove these stitches along the way. You can watch Sharon’s demonstration with the wooden boards in this video.
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