Layering and Pin Basting a Quilt

This week I am showing how I layer and pin baste my quilts together. This is a process I have worked through that works great for me. There are lots of different methods out there. 

First, I find a nice flat smooth floor with lots of room. There is a spot between my dining room and living room that is the perfect size for a throw quilt. I like floors that are linoleum, tile, or hardwood.  Carpet gets tricky but is do-able.

I press the top and back of the quilt to make sure all the seams lay flat  and that there are no annoying creases that will lead to puckers later. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - the Back

I lay the back on the ground, seam side up. Then I use packaging tape to tape all the corners down. You will want the back taut but not stretched out.  

Pin Basting a Quilt - Taping the back down

I also tape down the sides every few feet. Again, making sure it is tight but not stretched out. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Taping the back down

Then starting in one corner, I line up the batting. I usually make sure I can see at least 1/2 -1 inch of the back. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Laying down the batting

Then starting from the corner that is lined up, I smooth it out. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Batting

The batting and the back kind of stick together, so I don't need to worry about it moving once it is in place.  I run my hands over the batting, away from the corner that is lined up. There should be no wrinkles or bunches when you are done. (The batting that is bunched up on the left is the extra - I am using a queen size batting on this throw size quilt.)

Pin Basting a Quilt - Smoothing the Batting

Then using the same method, I layer the quilt top on. It will stick together like the batting and back did. 

Pin Basting a Quilt- Adding the top

I line up the top on the same corner, making sure I can see about 2 inches of batting all around. This will give a little room for the quilting phase. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Matching corners

Here it is all smoothed out. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Smoothing down the top

At this point, make sure all your lines are straight and everything is squared up. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Make sure the lines are straight

For pinning, I use 1 1/2 inch straight safety pins. I find that they are big enough to hold all the layers together and small enough that it wont leave giant holes in the fabric.  I have used curved pins before but found no significant benefit to them over the straight ones. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Safety Pins

Now is the time to think about how you are going to quilt it. If you are doing some sort of all over free motion quilting, then it doesn't matter how you place the pins, as long as they are about 4 inches apart. (This depends on the type of batting you are using and the manufacturers recommendations. I am using Warm and White Batting.)

I will be using my walking foot to stitch diagonal lines across the squares, so I place the pins so they are out of the way and can stay in as long as possible. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Pin placement

I start pinning in the middle and work my way out. 

While you are pinning, please be careful about not shifting the layers. I am continually smoothing the top down to keep it tight. My kids have been well trained to stay off the quilts!

Pin Basting a Quilt - Motion on the Quilt

I try to keep my movements minimal and I keep my shoes off. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Pinning it together

Make sure the edge gets pinned down too. It is easier to get it done now rather than trying to lay the quilt back out to pin some more. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Pin the border too

For this throw quilt, it took me about 45 minutes to get it set up and pinned. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Look for missed spots

Lastly I trim off the extra batting, making sure to leave a few inches on all sides. I have a pair of 12 inch shears that makes this job super easy. Having the extras off makes it easier to handle the quilt as it is getting quilted.  You can trim off the extra backing too. Again, just make sure there is a few inches sticking out from the top.  You can trim it down right to where you need it after it is quilted. 

Pin Basting a Quilt - Cut away extra

There is not a lot of extra backing on this one so I will just leave it attached. 

Lastly, carefully peel up the tape and you are done!

If you are doing this on carpet, use BIG straight pins to pin the backing into the carpet. Then when you are pinning the layers together, try and be careful not to grab the carpet. I have tried using weights or heavy books to hold the backing in place, but it never quite worked out very well.

If you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share, leave them in the comments section. I would love to hear them!

Have fun quilting!

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