How To: Pin Baste a quilt sandwich

I realized that with all my quilting, binding and other how to posts that I had never done one on How To: Pin Baste a quilt sandwich.  So today it the day!

I started with a flimsy (see Definition page) I had made last year from my youngest son.  I found this pattern I loved on Craftsy but wanted to tweak it just a bit and he liked the design too.  The design inspiration is called Matrix by SpringLeaf Studios.  Here is the link.  She has some amazing color options.  I had pulled out my jelly rolls and let my son pick his favorite.  My colors are not as amazing but I let my son pick the color combinations and he was happy with it.  He wanted to be part if the process and that was how he chose to participate and could see my progress.

He knew I had been working on a quilt for him, at his request but once the flimsy was done I had lost interest or was distracted with another project, SQUIRREL!  I rediscovered the top and knew it was time to finish.  He had been sleeping with a large piece of fabric that was a buttery-soft knit.  Not sure what type of fabric it is, it was given to me.  It is not fleece or flannel but almost a mix of the two.  This would make a perfect backing.

I started at work and used 3 tables pushed together.  Even though the quilt is slightly larger than a twin I needed lots of space to pin baste this and had nothing at home that would work.  I laid the backing down, face down, and smoothed out all the wrinkles.How to pin baste - backing layout

It is a little hard to tell but here is the front to back comparison.  The front has a little more vibrant colors.How to pin baste - backing upside down

Next came the batting, also rolled out without and lumps or bumps.  I left a border of the backing of 3″ or 4″ on all sides.  This is perfect for using as a binding (not sure if I am going to do that) but more importantly there is shrinkage in the quilting process.  Also, you want to make sure there is no chance of the backing being turned under or caught and sewn in with the quilting.  This helps so you can see it at all times and ensure nothing is shifting.How to pin baste - batting with backing overhang

After this, then comes the quilt top, or flimsy – right side up on top of the batting.  Leave a 2″ to 3″ edge of the batting on all sides of the quilt top.  Now it is called a quilt sandwich.How to pin baste - quilt top with batting overhang

Next comes the pin basting!  I used curved safety pins for a project this size, see the slight curve in the photo below.  These pins are size 1, that means 1″ long.  My batting is VERY think and it was a pain using this size but it is very secure.  I don’t usually use this thick of batting; it was my son’s choice.How to pin baste - curved saftey pins

I would unclip four pins, place them into the sandwich then go back and close each of the four.  Here are four in a row, on the right, still needing to be closed.

Each of these strips is 2″ wide so you can see the distance I made each of my pins.  Wow, my hand looks so fat in this photo, I don’t see it that fat in real life – perceptions!How to pin baste - distance

I started with doing 4 pins at a time, then quickly progressed into 8 pins at a time.  That was about perfect for this project, 4 up and 4 back – then close the pins.

Almost finished – just the middle to go!How to pin baste - almost done

I was curious and timed how long it took me to pain baste this slightly larger than twin size quilt.  It was 70 minutes.

Here it is complete with pin basting, plus cat in the top of the frame.  She thinks that all batting based items in the house belong to her.How to pin baste - complete

Then comes the big test: to check the back side!  It doesn’t matter if the top is perfect without any bumps, tucks, wrinkles or pucker – if the back is not the same.  One of those problems on the back with ruin the project or basting.  Here is the test:How to pin baste - backing check

Looks great!

I have rolled and folded this project since I pin basted it and it seams there is no shifting and it stays very secure with this pin distance.  Next to quilt it.  I will be doing a straight line quilting in the longer horizontal direction.  It will take a few days to get back to it but it will be on my sons bed by the end of the week!  I am determined to have no more UFOs!

There are many methods to baste a quilt sandwich: spray, safety pins, yarn tying, even straight pins.  On smaller projects I prefer to straight pin baste – faster I think.  I do not like the spray baste – I should amend that, I have never used the spray basting method.  Yarn tying seams so time-consuming and a waste of yarn – tying it to cut it off later.  Along with this method above, pin basting.  Which is your favorite?


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