Quilt Along for Beginner’s- Part 4: Creating your Quilt Sandwich, Basting & Quilting
Welcome back to Part 4 of our Quilt Along! We’re nearly done!
If you’re new here, take a moment to get caught up with
Part 1: Gathering Supplies, Selecting, Calculating & Buying Fabric, and Pre-washing
Part 2: Squaring Up Fabric, Cutting Straight Fabric Squares and Designing Layout
Part 3: Sewing Squares into Rows & Completing Quilt Top
Those posts are FULL of great information that you don’t want to miss out on!
How did piecing your quilt go?
So exciting to have a full finished quilt top, right? 🙂
This week we will be learning to create our quilt sandwich, baste our quilt and complete the actually quilting portion.
Let’s jump right in and get started!
For your convenience, this post may contain affiliate links and pictures. You can read my full disclosure statement here.
Creating Your Quilt Sandwich
To get started this week, we need to create what is commonly called a quilt sandwich. Basically we need to lay out & stack each piece of our quilt together.
Start with your backing, not to be confused with batting. Your backing is the fabric on the back of the quilt. The batting will be the middle piece of the quilt.
Cut your backing 3-4″ larger on each side than your quilt top. The easiest way to do this is simply measure your quilt top, add 3-4″ to each side and cut.
Lay your backing right side down out on a large smooth surface (you want the ugly side showing). I typically use hard flooring. Smooth your backing, pull it taut (NOT stretched) and tape it down with painters tape. (Painters tape won’t damage your fabric or flooring).
Next cut your batting. Cut your batting 2-3″ larger on each side than your quilt top, roughly 1″ shorter on each side than your backing.
Don’t worry too much about exact precision when cutting the backing & batting. The excess is in place to account for shifting when completing the quilting portion.
Layer your batting on top of your backing.
Finish your quilt sandwich by placing your completed quilt top on as the top layer.
Basting Your Quilt
Let’s talk about basting your quilt.
Basting your quilt is simply securing your quilt sandwich to hold the layers in place when quilting.
There are two methods that you can use to baste a quilt:
- Basting Spray
I have used and like both, depending on the size and nature of the project I’m working on.
To baste a quilt by pinning, you simply use curved basting pins to secure all three layers together.
Visually divide your quilt into quarters. Start in one quarter and place pins every 4-6 inches. I like to use my hand as a rough guide for spacing.
If you choose the pinning method for basting, err on the side of caution and when in doubt add a few more pins. 🙂
Once you complete pinning one quarter of the quilt, start pinning the second quarter of the quilt. Continue until entire quilt is complete.
*Tip* If you know how you plan to complete your quilting, try to avoid those lines with pins. This will make your quilting more efficient, as you won’t have to stop every few minutes to remove pins. 🙂
Basting a quilt with pins is inexpensive, but can be tough on backs & legs bending when leaning over a quilt to pin it.
The other option for basting is spray basting.
Spray basting is quicker and easier, but the fumes from the spray can be bothersome. I rarely (if ever) use spray anymore, but if I do I open windows & doors to ensure ventilation and I make sure not to spray it around my kiddo’s little lungs.
That being said many people, myself included depending on the project, find the convenience of spray basting to be any smell it creates.
When spray basting, there are a few things to remember:
- Use 505 Spray. I think it is a bit more expensive than other brands, but it won’t gum up the needle on your machine the way other brands can.
- Work methodically in small sections at a time. Spraying too much at once can create a headache trying to smooth your quilt. (Ask me how I know 😉 ).
So to baste a quilt with spray, you’ll want to divide your quilt in half visually. Start in the middle and focus on one half. Roll the half back and spray about 6-8 inches or so on the batting. Press down on the backing and smooth.
Repeat the process with the next section. Spray 6-8 inches on the batting layer. Press down on the backing and smooth.
Repeat process until half is complete.
Focus your attention on the other half. Repeat the previous steps to spray and smooth fabric until half is complete.
Once the batting is completed basted to the backing, it’s time to baste the quilt top. This will be done with the same steps we used before.
Pull back half of the quilt top. Spray 6-8 inches on the batting layer. (Always spray on the batting layer. It adheres more smoothly, without worrying about seams and threads getting in the way.) Press the quilt top onto the batting, smoothing as you go.
Repeat this process until quilt top is entirely basted.
It’s Time to Quilt!
You officially made it! It’s time to quilt. Quilting the verb, as in the beautiful stitching that truly makes a quilt a quilt.
Right off the bat let me tell you quilting is a skill that is acquired with lots of practice. Even with the best tutorials and guides, mistakes will happen. Please be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect perfection. Even the most skilled quilters make mistakes. It’s the little imperfections that make a handmade quilt so special.
Okay so let’s learn to quilt!
There are LOTS of ways to quilt. Stitch in the ditch, diagonal, borders, free motion quilting…the list goes on.
My favorite (and what I think is the most forgiving) is machine diagonal quilting.
With your quilt still laid out and taped, measure off and mark lines with a fabric pen like this one.
The distance of your lines will depend on your batting. Take a look at your batting package, it will tell you the maximum spacing between lines. This Warm & Natural batting I am using allows for a maximum of 10″ in between lines. I like to keep my lines roughly 4″ apart, depending on the quilt. Just remember, the closer your lines are, the stiffer your quilt will be.
Start in the middle of your middle row. If you’re using a standard sewing machine, like this one I use, tightly roll your quilt to fit under the neck of your machine.
Using your walking foot (an absolute necessity when machine quilting), sew to the edge of your quilt.
Cut your thread and start in the middle of the next row. Sew to the edge of your quilt.
Continue moving through rows, sewing each row until half of your quilt is completed.
Flip your quilt around and start in the middle of the middle row again. Sew to the edge of the quilt.
Continue sewing each row, until the quilting is completed.
Cut your threads.
Some tips for quilting:
- Use a walking foot!!
- Allow your machine & walking foot to move the quilt. Don’t push or pull it to aggressively. Simply guide it. If it isn’t moving smoothly, stop and adjust the quilt.
- Get a pair of quilting gloves! It makes it SO much easier to guide a quilt through a small machine.
- A sewing table with a drop shelf for a sewing machine is a lifesaver when quilting. It allows the sewing machine to be flush with the table, which helps the quilt move easier. I have and love this one (which is relatively inexpensive, as far as sewing desks go).
- Stop frequently to roll & readjust excess quilt as needed.
- Take breaks!! Quilting can be exhausting. If you feel yourself getting tired, take a break! Frequent breaks will prevent a lot of mistakes that fatigue can cause.
- Keep a seam ripper close! And don’t be afraid to use it! Ask any quilter, a seam ripper is a staple!
Work on Your Quilt & Join Me Next Week!
Take your time to complete your quilting this week. (You can do it! 🙂 )
As your working, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you might run across! I tried to be as thorough as possible, but if something is unclear please let me know! I am more than happy to add videos or clarification, if needed!
Join me next week to learn how to square up our quilt and cut and attach binding! We will finish our quilts next week!
So exciting! You don’t want to miss it!
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8 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Quilt Along for Beginner’s: Part 4”
Ready & waiting for part 5. Your instructions are so helpful. I went ahead and did part 4 before you posted it and, of course, I made mistakes. need to read part 5 to find out if my quilt is going to be okay. Thanks so much for your help.
Hi Carleen! So glad these posts are helpful for you! That’s my goal when writing them 🙂 We are so close to being done with these quilts!
Look for the final part (part 5) to be posted Monday. Enjoy your weekend! 🙂
So i have never quilted before…i love sewing but i havent done a ton of it recently. This may sound dumb, please bare with me…what keeps the stiches from comi ng undone? I was always taught when maching sewing to go forward reverse then continue on…but i feel it would be super noticeable??
So sorry for the delayed response, just saw your message. My house is crazy chasing after a toddler and caring for a newborn 🙂
To put it at simple as possible, a sewing machine has stitches that go in the top and the bottom. Backstitching at the beginning of each stretch of sewing forms “a knot” that helps prevent the stitching from coming undone. It basically just reinforces the stitches and truly isn’t too noticeable. Hope this helps! 🙂
I’m working on my first quilt for a new grandbaby, and I have to tell you, your instructions are the best! Easy to follow and understand! I do have one question; do you use a special quilting thread for the quilting portion of this quilt? Or is just regular, all purpose cotton thread?
Thank you kindly,
Hi! So I have never quilted before, but I am trying to learn and am so far having a great time. I do have a question regarding the sewing process. When you say to “sew to the edge of the quilt” do you mean all the way to the edge of the backing edge or the quilt top edge? I want to assume the quilt edge but I want to be sure before I start. Thanks!
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment- I apologize that I am just now seeing it.
For this step, sew all the way to the edge of the quilt top. Once your entire top is quilted, you will be trimming the excess backing/batting.
I hope this helps! Good luck and happy crafting! 🙂
Thank you so much for the tutorials! This is the second quilt I am making using your step by step guide, but of course, I got too confident and cut my backing fabric a little too close (I left only half an inch to inch away from my quilt top). Ooops! How bad do you think the damage will be?