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Basting my quilt

by Tina Kather
(Akron, Ohio)

I am machine quilting all in the ditch in straight lines.

I taped my layers to the table and safety pinned, but when I go to sew the top and back are both loose and end ups puckery???


Hi Tina!

What I'm wondering from your description is if you've taped and pinned 'enough'.

I've written about the process here at Layering and Basting a Quilt.

I would stress that the backing must be taped down taut but not pulled or stretched. If it's stretched as it's taped down, then once the tape is removed is shrinks back to its original size and that can be a cause of the puckering.

My rule of thumb for the amount of pins needed is if you put your palm flat on the basted quilt sandwich, you should feel at least two pins. If you feel less, I'd suggest adding more pins to keep the layers from shifting as you maneuver the sandwich underneath the needle.

The problem may also stem from your presser foot pressure setting (try saying that 3 times fast!). I've written about that on the page Machine Quilting Causes Tucks. If your quilt is basted properly, you may need to reduce the pressure setting.

On that same page, I discuss how stopping (with the needle down) when you see a 'bubble' forming on the top of your quilt and simply raising your presser foot and then stitching again can alleviate small tucks from forming.

Finally, if it's the basting that is causing you problems, you may find the two videos on my How Do I Control My Quilt Sandwich During Quilting page. You can baste with your regular safety pins instead of thread basting as is shown in the videos.

I hope this information helps.

Readers, if you have any suggestions for Tina, please use the 'Comments' link below to share.

We appreciate your help. Thank you!


Julie Baird

Comments for Basting my quilt

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Basting stitches show
by: Anonymous

I am a new quilter. I just finished machine stitching my binding on. In a few places my basting stitches show on the back.

Should I remove them?

From the Editor:

If these are truly basting stitches—and meant to be temporary—then I'd take them out.

However, if you find too much resistance as you pull them out, then I'd stop. Clip the thread tails close to the fabric of the quilt.

Move on to your next quilt.

You learn more and more with every quilt you make.

Congratulations of a finish!


Julie Baird

sandwiching a quilt with spray
by: lori hampton

Yes...puckering occurred on the back of my quilt when I pinned. I'd prefer trying the spray, but I live in a log home...need I say more...I have no flat walls to work on and I'm tired of getting on my hands and knees. I was thinking of buying a 4'x8' piece of 3/4" plywood and either putting it on sawhorses or leaning it against a wall. I think that either of these would work.

From the Editor: Hi Lori!

If your space is at a premium, then I suggest taking a look at the two videos on my page, "How do I control my quilt sandwich during quilting".

In this method, the quilt top and backing are rolled onto boards. The batting is floated between the two layers and then the whole thing is basted together. In the videos, Sharon is thread basting. I much prefer pin basting for machine quilting.

This way you don't need a big floor or wall space, but rather room for a folding table big enough to hold the quilt.

Instead of crawling around on the floor (and my knees aren't liking that so much as I get older) you sit in a chair, upright, to baste.

There's always more than one way to get things done in quilting...Thank Goodness!!!


Julie Baird

Basting a Quilt
by: Jo Goranson

I am one of those people who don't use pins to keep the sandwich together. I use Sullivan's basting spray and it works wonderfully for me.

I never could get the pin method down right and then I took a class from someone who used the spray and taught us how to use it and I have done it for years this way.

The trick is to use very, very little spray!

Most people use way too much and can't understand why the needle keeps getting gummed up. I put a plastic sheet up on my design wall, then put up my backing with only a few pins around the edge and spray that. I leave the room for about 10 minutes so no more spray is in the air then I put the batting up onto the backing, smooth it out (or lift it up and put it right) and then spray the batting, leave the room and then put the quilt front up.

The trick with using spray is to use it very sparingly and wait 24 hours before quilting.

My needle never gums up and I can get at least 10 quilts out of one can of spray, sometimes more if they are small ones. I use only 4 pins---one in each corner and that is all that is needed.

Once I take the quilt down from the wall I do put it on a table and make sure it is bubble free. The great thing about using the spray sparingly is that it is just like lifting up a post it note. You lift up where there are wrinkles and then set it down again and smooth it out.

I learned the trick about putting it up on my design wall from Libby Lehman who was forced to use a motel room wall to do her quilt sandwich because there wasn't enough floor space. She writes about it in her book "Threadplay" and I was lucky enough to take a class from her in 2000 and learned that trick from her.

It is amazing how much easier it is to put a sandwich together on a wall. Even if you use pins you will get a much smoother quilt.

Hope this helps.

Basting your quilt
by: Anonymous

I am just starting to machine quilt, so don,t know if this will work. On hand quilting, I use masking tape and tape the backing to the carpet so it remains taunt. I then pin where and remove the masking tape. If I feel it should be basted, then I baste. This has worked well with flannel and 100% cotton.

by: Anonymous

Thank You very much for your positive feedback.

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