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After basting by a longarm quilter...

by Pat

Pat writes...

After completing my first large quilt top (Swoon 80x80), I am having it basted by a longarm quilter who will do long stitches every 2 to 4 inches.

Is it necessary to then ditch stitch before machine quilting, or will it be stable enough?

Should I ditch stitch the blocks (24") and remove the basting stitches before machine quilting?

Thanks in advance,


Julie replies...

Hi Pat!

First a very big CONGRATULATIONS for finishing your first biggie! May this be the first quilt of many! You're doing what I've always dreamed of doing—having someone else baste it for me.

Now to your questions...
  1. Yes, I would definitely stabilize the quilt by stitching in the ditch between all the blocks. It won't be enough stitching to remove all the basting, but it's a start.

  2. Only remove those stitches (and thread tails) that are in the direct path of your quilting stitches...and only as you come to them.

    Think of it this way. Each stitch the longarmer puts in your quilt is taking the place of a single safety pin.

    Even if the blocks were 12" (instead of 24") I wouldn't remove all the pins...just the ones that would get in my way. You still need the stitching to hold all the layers together, particularly to avoid getting tucks in your quilt--top and backing and to prevent shifting.
A word to the wise. I've taken classes with Sharon Schamber, QE (Quilter Extraordinaire!). She has a whole other career in garment construction and hand bastes her quilts. (If you're interested you can click here, and then scroll down to the heading, "Layering and Basting a Quilt on 2 Boards" to see a couple of videos on that process.

I find that when basting with thread, I'm more apt to sew right over the thread. There's no stinkin' safety pin to hit that would break my needle. Who wants to stop in the middle of a line of quilting to clip away some threads?

Do your best NOT to sew over the basting. It's a pain to get the fibers out of your quilting stitches.

I invite you to share a photo of your quilt here when you're finished. I'd love to see it!

Readers, as always, please share your thoughts and experiences with basting by a longarm quilter using the 'Comments' link below.


Julie Baird

Comments for After basting by a longarm quilter...

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Missing the video
by: Joyce

After reading the comments above there is a comment on Sharon's video for basting using the baseboard (skirting board) method. However I don't see any access to video. I am intrigued as to how it works.

From the Editor:

There is a link on this page that says 'click here' that is underlined and in blue in that paragraph. That link takes you to another page on the site where the two videos are located.

It'll be under the heading "Layering and Basting a Quilt on 2 Boards".

~ Julie

After basting by a long arm quilter
by: Sharon

Maybe I am not understanding the question, but why would you ever have a quilt basted by a LA quilter, then machine quilt it? Are you using a regular machine to do the quilting, not hand quilting?

From the Editor: Hi Sharon.

I quilt all my quilts on my domestic sewing machine...and baste them on my tiled kitchen floor. Back in my forties it wasn't such a big deal, but now in my mid-fifties the idea of having the quilt basted for me appeals to me.

A quilt basted on a long arm machine can be either quilted on a domestic machine or by hand.

The biggest problem with thread basting (for me) is that there's nothing to stop one from quilting right over the thread. I stop for safety pins because there's an immediate price. But with thread basting, only your own vigilance will stop you.

Does that make sense? Great question!


Julie Baird

by: Anonymous

Thanks for your help StanleyBeagle! I do know that they are skirting boards here in UK, but unfortunately they are not flat like in N America, but shaped and also about 6" wide! My husband is going to get an 8' length of planed 6x1 then run it through the circular saw, so he says. I think that our UK architrave would be OK. It is 3x1 but is bull nosed. I don't think this will matter. What do you think. Itching to try this method!

by: StanleyBeagle

Sorry if you already knew - I hate being that internet person (or beagle ;) ) - baseboards = skirting boards. I never needed to buy those when growing up in the UK (more than 15 years ago) so I don't know if they have them at B&Q. Come to think of it, I don't know if you still have B&Q!

I just used Sharon's board method to baste a quilt and it turned out so well! I was worried about hand stitching but it just seemed so much smoother than safety pins (which I have always used before). Of course, I haven't tried to quilt it yet, so maybe I'll come to regret it - right now I'm just enjoying the smoothness and flatness!

I hope all goes well!

Many thanks
by: Pat

Wow Julie - a fast and comprehensive answer! Thank you so much. I will take note of your advice and let you know how I get on, though it won't be for a couple of months due to travel plans. I have studied Sharon's video and intended trying her boards method, however here in UK those baseboards don't exist! My husband was planning to create boards for me, and still will, ready for the next big quilt!

From the Editor: Glad to be of some help, Pat! Good luck!

~ Julie

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