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Can you thread baste a quilt for machine quilting?

by Shelley
(Townsend, MA)

Shelley writes...

I find the safety pin basting my quilts is much more time consuming and annoying than traditional thread basting.

Can you machine quilt a thread basted quilt or will the quilt stitches "lock down" the basting ones?


Julie replies...

Hi Shelley!

I hear you—pin basting is my least favorite part of quilting. It ranks right up there with rotary cutting a whole quilt at a time. Totally annoying--agreed!!!

The simple answer to your question is Yes! Absolutely!

You can baste a quilt sandwich any way that works for YOU. If you find it's both faster and easier, then by all means do it.

Thread basting is traditionally used in hand quilting because the basting stitches don't interfere with hooping the quilt sandwich. Since the stitching, itself, is much slower by hand it's a simple thing to either snip the basting threads as you come to them or simply avoid them with your quilting stitch.
Since the stitches are laid down so much faster with a sewing machine, you do run the risk of stitching through the basting and 'locking down' that thread. It'll need to be picked out if you do. Having a pair of bent tweezers, like you'd use with a serger, makes it easier to get a grasp of any troublesome fibers.

If you prefer to thread-baste, then practice the habit of clipping your threads as you come to them. (For my own quilting, I need the 'hard steel' of the pin to force me to stop—I'm just not that patient a quilter--my bad!)

If you are layering your quilt sandwich on the floor or table, you may be interested in a couple other 'non-pin' ways to baste your quilt sandwich. Click here to go to "How to Use Quilt Basting Spray and Other Tools".

There are a few videos on that page that demonstrate the two different techniques. The second in particular—basting with boards—may make your thread basting even easier.

Great question, Shelley! I hope this has helped.


Julie Baird

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