Basting your quilt

Many quilters, both new and more experienced, loathe the basting part of making a quilt - moving furniture around to find that clean flat space, then crawling around on the floor inserting the pins, ending up with sore knees and a bad back. Well, I thought I would share the method I've used, forever, to baste my quilts - my good old bed! Admittedly, I have a king size bed, but even if your bed isn't big enough to hold your whole quilt at once, you can baste it in sections.

1. So first, strip the bed down leaving the bottom sheet in place. If you're using a pieced backing, mark the centre points of each edge with a pin, and do the same to the quilt top, this helps you centre the top and bottom pieces, which can be important if you have horizontal or vertical seams on your backing. Now lay the backing fabric on top of the bed, face down, smoothing out from the centre of the quilt to the edges to remove any creases. The friction between the bed sheet and backing should keep it from moving around.

2. Now lay your wadding on top, again gently smoothing out the creases from the centre. If I'm working from a roll of wadding, I lay it on top of the backing with a slight overhang off the one edge, then unroll it to the opposite edge and cut. Then I unfold it and lay it out gently, trimming the excess from the bottom edge.

3. Next lay down the quilt top, face up, and don't forget to line up those pins to get the top centred with the bottom. On this All Squared Up quilt, I know the centre of the quilt top is that middle seam so I've used this as a guide rather than inserting a pin.

4. As before, smooth your quilt top out from the centre. The friction between the layers should keep them from moving around.

5. Now to insert the pins - I have always found using curved safety pins to be so much easier than basting spray, but this is my preference, plus I don't really want glue all over my bed! As I need a hard surface against which to insert my pins, I use my quilter's ruler - gently slip the ruler under the backing fabric to where you want to place your first pins, then move it to the next area and pin, and so on. Just make sure you're not moving any of the layers when you're moving your ruler around. If you slightly push the ruler into the bed as you move it, it shouldn't interfere with the layers.

6. Insert the pins at regular intervals. I tend to start in the centre of the quilt and move towards the left to baste that quarter, then I move onto the next quarter above that and so on around the quilt. 

If you are working on a quilt that's too large for the top of the bed, lay out the backing, wadding and top so that one quarter or half is fully on the bed. Baste this thoroughly, then gently roll or fold the basted part up so you can pull the rest of the quilt sandwich up onto the bed - go gently so as not to crease any of the layers.