Basting a Large Quilt in Sections

Basting the three layers of a quilt together is no one’s favorite task.  For me, the only upside is the knowledge that soon I will actually be quilting!  Basting a large quilt can be a challenge, but I have found that working at it in sections makes the job very manageable.  Here’s how.

I have two basic Ikea-style tables in my sewing room, each measuring approximately 32″ x 48″.  If you don’t have this kind of work space, many quilt shops will allow you to use their work tables.

Divide each layer of your quilt into four equal quadrants.  I do this by folding the backing fabric, the batting, and the quilt top in half and marking each midway point with a safety pin.

Lay the top left quadrant of the backing fabric, face down, on the tables.  Use masking tape to secure the two raw edges and binder clips to secure the edges with excess fabric.  Make sure the backing fabric is smooth and taut, gently stretching it as it is fastened to the table.

Did you notice the legs of my tables?  Coffee cans raise the height just enough so I can baste without bending over.  This sure helps prevents back pain! 

Add the batting, lining up the safety pins that mark the centers.  Smooth out any bumps or wrinkles.

Add the quilt top, again matching centers, and baste the first quadrant.  For machine quilting, I baste with safety pins.  There are pins specifically designed for this task, with a bend to help go through all the layers, but I like to use these small brass pins.

Remove the masking tape and binder clips, and move the quilt over to the top right quadrant.  Use the binder clips to secure all three layers along the left (already basted) edge.

Peel back the quilt top and batting along the left edge, and secure the backing fabric to the table as before – using masking tape for the two raw edges and binder clips for the remaining edge.

Return the batting into place and smooth over the backing fabric.  Add the quilt top and baste the second quadrant.

Remove the masking tape and binder clips, and move the quilt over to the bottom right quadrant.  Use the binder clips to secure all three layers along the top edge.

Peel back the quilt top and batting along the top edge, and secure the backing fabric using masking tape and binder clips.

Return the batting and quilt top into place as before, and baste the third quadrant.

Remove the masking tape and binder clips once again, and move the quilt over to the bottom left quadrant.  Since three quarters of the quilt have now been basted, use binder clips to secure all three layers along both the top and right edges.

Peel back the quilt top and batting on an angle, from one midpoint to the other.  Use masking tape to secure the remaining raw edges of backing fabric.

Return the batting and quilt top into place and baste the final quadrant.  Remove the masking tape and binder clips and start quilting!  (Before you do, you may have to trim or file a couple finger nails.  Those safety pins can be rough!)  Have fun.


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Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    My binder clips are 2″ wide and work just fine. I guess it would depend on the thickness of your table, but try the 2″ and see if they fit.
    Kathy

  2. JenniferNo Gravatar says:

    What size of binder clips? I have found 2″ wide available but was under the impression I needed 3″ wide, but haven’t found them.

  3. That’s a great idea, Dawn. Thanks for sharing it. Where do you get the PVC pipe? Does it come in different widths for different size table legs?
    Kathy

  4. I use pvc pipe to put on the legs of my table and it works fine.Just measur the heigth you want and cut them and slip your legs into each leg.You can put end caps on them to move the table around when needed.

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