Quilting Blog

To Pin or Not to Pin? 12 Tips for Basting a Quilt

Whether you have been quilting 10 days or 10 years, you’ve probably learned that there are more than a few ways to baste a quilt. And while everyone has an opinion on the best methods for basting, the two most popular ways to baste a quilt are pin basting and spray basting. Other methods include basting with fusibles and basting with thread, which you can read about here.

Once you’ve learned how to baste a quilt effectively using either of these methods, you’ll be able to get great results no matter which way you do it! We’ve rounded up some helpful tips and tricks from quilters about pin basting and spray basting, so read on some great ideas.

Pin basting tips

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Photo via Christa Quilts

1. When pin basting, use 1 1/2” curved basting pins. Otherwise, 1 1/2” straight safety pins will do. Craftsy instructor Wendy Butler Berns, recommends about 100 pins for a twin-size quilt sandwich.

2. Sharon Schamber uses two boards to baste her quilts, which simulates a longarm quilting frame. She shares her board basting technique in this video.

3. If you have a large carpeted area, you can pin your quilt backing to the carpet with T pins. If you have a hard surface, packing tape or duct tape works fine to smooth out the fabric.

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4. Don't like working on the floor? Try clamping a large piece of plywood to a dining room table or pool table and use this as your basting surface.

5. Are you using enough pins? Some quilters recommend using "the hand test." If you can place your hand on the quilt surface without touching any pins, use more pins!

6. While pin basting, Leanne at She Can Quilt says she trims the backing and batting to the same size rather than leaving the backing larger. This allows her to center and straighten the quilt front more easily. The batting and backing layer is about 3" to 5" larger than the front.

Spray basting tips

 

1. When spray basting your quilts, tape down the quilt back to a hard surface like the floor to keep it taut. Lightly spray the wrong side of the backing fabric, then smooth the batting over the backing, working from the center out. Repeat with the quilt top. Here's a tutorial for spray basting your quilts.

2. If you don't like working on your hands and knees, move your spray basting job to the design wall! Craftsy instructor Patsy Thompson shares her technique for spray basting upright on a design wall in this video.

3. If you don't have a design wall, you can spray the wrong side of your backing fabric outdoors on a clothesline, then move into the house to smooth it out onto the floor to finish the basting job. This will also save your floor from becoming sticky and save your home from so many fumes.

4. Sharon at Simple Things purchased boards from the hardware store and took them outside to create a flat surface for spray basting, helping her to avoid fumes in the house.

5. Becky added to the discussion at eQuilters with an ingenious tip for spray basting. She suggests asking a carpet store for a long carboard tube, which can be used to roll the backing fabric (wrong side out) onto a flat surface, followed by each layer of the quilt sandwich. The weight of the tube helps smooth out the quilt sandwich.

6. Working on an extra large quilt? To prevent puckering, take the quilt to your ironing board after spray basting and lightly press, as explained by Ann at Obsessive Quilter.

What's your best tip for how to baste a quilt?

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13 Comments

Josephine

J’utilise un lit avec double matelas ce qui me fait une table de travail d’environ 30 pouces de hauteur sur lequel j’étale les couches de ma couverture.

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Libbi

I use 2 techniques discovered in 2 different Craftsy courses. Cindy Needham describes putting together the quilt sandwich from the center out using a table and the natural force of gravity in Design It, Quilt it. This is great for a more mature woman like myself who no longer can crawl along the floor. It is also less cumbersome that the Sharon Schamber method. Then I pin using straight pins and Pinmores as described by Leah Day.in her course. I find that these methods work for me for any size quilt.

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Quilting Jeannie z

I agree with your methods, although I have slight variations. I lay out my layers on a large bed, to get them layers aligned properly. Then I fold it carefully and move to the kitchen island. Starting at the center, I smooth out the layers to each end. Then back to the center to pin my layers together with bent safety pins.

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Super Mom - No Cape!

I use Sharon Schamber’s hand basting method for all of my quilts now from small to large. It’s not just that it’s easier on my knees, although that’s the reason I started using that method. . If you’ve pin basted a quilt and then put it away for any length of time, pins can rust in a high humidity environment and leave permanent marks on the quilt. I had several quilts hand basted, ready to quilt when we went through a major life transition and our stuff ended up in storage for three years. But when we finally unpacked everything this past November, all those quilts needed was a quick pressing and there were again ready to be quilted. I finished quilting that last of those recently and they came out lovely. I can’t imagine the mess I might have had to deal with or even the heartbreak if I’d had to throw them away had I used pins to baste them.

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Jacqueline Glenn

I’m a new quilter and very much appreciate these helpful ideas. Getting ready to bast my first quilt. Thanks!

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Ina L Schmedake

I am old school hand quilter. When I used to baste I used hand basting. I now have a Hinterberg three roller quilt frame and don’t have to baste. I have found laying lining,batting and quilt top together for acouole of days makes it much easier to put on frame. Batting bonds to quilt top.

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Angela Elliott

Im doing a queen size quilt but dont know how to get it sew up once sandwich, my sew machine is to small to sew, should i sew by hand..

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Debra

Look on line. There are many videos on how to quilt a large quilt on a sewing machine. My last quilt was 102×102. Best advice start in the middle and work out. That way you only have a quarter of the quilt to do at a time. It is doable.

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Melanie Harris

Ok so the bigger my quilts get the less room I have to baste. Hubby suggested using the drive way. Genius Idea. I think?

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Chris Ryan

I had the same issue. Tried the driveway, couldn’t actually tape down the backing, so used paint cans and an old painter’s tarp to protect the top since it’s spring and we have pollen EVERYWHERE. It worked OK, but I still had to spray baste and throw in a few pins after I ironed everything. My first quilt fits somewhere between a queen and a king, so it’s been a challenge on my small machine for sure. Still have had a couple of issues with puckers I’m not happy with, but this first one is only for me, so live and learn.

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Gail Smisek

I have never ironed after spray basting. Does this help eliminate any puckers??

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Theresa Carey

My husband set up his work horses ,ones made of heavy plastic and put boards across them .place them on bricks so the height would be easy on my back,

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Cindy

The pinmoors work wonderfully-eliminate much of the pin pricking and pooching of fabric. I use spray and also pin-which is why I use the pinmoors.

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