So You Wanna Make A Quilt…Part 6 – Basting Your Quilt


Part 6- Basting Your Quilt

We all have a love/hate relationship with basting our quilts! We gotta do it, but it is an interruption in our quilting mojo:) I am curious if there is anyone out there who actually likes to baste?…crickets….

If you are a total beginner you are probably thinking about your Thanksgiving turkey and wondering what it has to do with a quilt!

What is Basting?

Basting is a process used when sewing more than one fabric layer together. To make a quilt you will have to have a quilt top, batting(fluffy stuff in the middle) and backing. When we layer these three together to make our “quilt sandwich” we have to secure them to each other before we start stitching to prevent shifting and puckering.

Basting Your Quilt

Basting Basics

Basting is like many things in quilting…there is more than one way to do it, but the basics are the same.

•Your backing has to be flat and smooth. When making your quilt sandwich, you will not be able to see what is happening with the backing. This means you need to have it secured to something that will hold it flat and taut. Do not over stretch the backing! When it is released it will shift back to its natural state and scrunch up.

A couple popular ways to do this is with painters tape on the floor or with clamps on a table.


Secure backing to a hard flat surface.

•Your backing also needs to be at least 2-3″ larger than your quilt top on all four sides of your quilt. I will warn you to not go skimpy on this one! You will regret it when you have basted your entire quilt and realize one corner has no backing to cover it….ashamed to admit how many times I had to learn that one:)

•Your batting also needs to be smooth and extend 2-3″ beyond your quilt top on all sides. Batting doesn’t have to be quite as flat as the backing, but you want it to be smooth and not have any folds. Lay your batting out for a couple hours so it can relax or breathe from being folded will help. Your batting can be 100% cotton, Polyester or a blend of the two. Cotton batting can be lightly ironed, but Polyester will melt…so be careful of that. I like to use 100% or a Poly/Cotton blend.


Different types of batting.

Quilt Sandwich

Quilt Sandwich

•You will need something to secure the layers together. There are 3 basic techniques:

Thread basting

Pin Basting

Spray Basting

The oldest and most traditional way is with thread. You take large running stitches about 3 or 4″ apart to secure the layers and then, cut and remove when done quilting.

The most popular is probably using safety pins. A size 1 1/2 – 2 curved safety pin is good and small enough not to leave a large hole in your quilt top! You should space them so that when you place you fist on the quilt it is surrounded by pins. Using a Kwik Clip is a good tool to make that easier and try not to pin where you will be quilting. You will need 100-200+ pins, especially if you want to baste more than one quilt at a time.

Safety Pin

Curved Safety Pin

Kwik Clip and Safety Pins

Kwik Clip and Safety Pins

The growing trend is to use a spray adhesive. You do need some ventilation and a mask is not a bad idea. The drawback to spray basting is that it can be difficult to keep things flat and smooth when everything is sticky:) It is really great for small projects, but can be done on large quilts also. You will have to use the adhesive on each layer and work from the center outward. Having a friend helps a lot! They sell fusible batting as an option also.

Spray Basting

Spray Basting

How do I know which to try?

As a beginner I am going to recommend using the pin basting technique. It is the least complicated and can be done on a floor or table top(be careful not to scratch up your table!) You should do at least one on the floor and pay your dues like everyone else:) Just kidding! It’s not that bad. I figure if my 86 year old grandmother could do it, then I shouldn’t complain.


Eventually you have to try out a couple different methods to see what fits your style the best. I love using the table top…that floor was killing me…and I converted to spray basting a while back. My sister uses a board basting method with two 2 x 4’s and it works great for her. You can check that one out HERE at Color Me Quilty. Your longarm quilter may also be able to baste your quilt for a fee.

Once you are basted you can get to quilting! I would love to know your favorite method to baste, so please share:)


Click HERE to find parts 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5 and 6 of the Beginner Quilting Series, So You Wanna Make a Quilt…

See you next week for Part 7- Quilting.

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  1. Susan in OK says:

    I’ve been reading your tutorial on making a quilt and learning some new tips and it’s great to a refresher on ideas I haven’t visited in some time. Thanks for the link to your sister’s board basting technique . I have always sent my quilts out except for a couple of table runners and want to work on actual quilting too this year. My guild makes quilts for needy babies and children. They are always begging for quilters and do not care about your level of quilting ability – seriously. With the amount of carpet in the house, I find it difficult to find an area to layout much of a quilt and with health issues it is getting more and more difficult to get in the floor, too. So, I think the board basting just might be the answer. It still would be a great technique to us with the buddy system. Thanks for all your posts.

  2. HI Paula,

    Thanks so much for the tutorials -they are very informative.


  3. I pin baste my quilts in a quilt frame. No kneeling on the floor. And I can adjust the frame size to suit the quilt size. Thanks for sharing all your ideas, Paula!

  4. Another great tutorial! Thanks for the link to the board basting. I was not familiar with that technique.

  5. Great info Paula! I have just tried spray basting–and I really like it. But I am with you, if you are just starting I would definitely stick with safety pins! Thanks for all the great info! :)

  6. Great tips, Paula! You know I’m a pin baster. by the way, thanks for your kind comment on my latest post. I wanted to let you know that you’re showing up no-reply today!

    :) Kelly

  7. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS.
    I don’t understand why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there
    anybody having similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the
    answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

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