Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quilting the Outlined Plus quilt

As I shared with you last week, my Outlined Plus top is done! So the next stop is quilting and the place where I can easily get sidetracked! But this time I have all of you to keep me going and today I got my top basted and ready for quilting.

I know there are lots of great ways to baste the top, batting and backing together, and today I thought I'd show you how I do it. I've been basting my quilts together like this since I can remember and it's never failed me. And it doesn't involve crawling on the floor.

My go-to method for machine quilting is pin basting. I know many people use spray baste and love it.  I personally don't like the fumes, the mess and the expense of spray basting. I also feel that unlike safety pins, the spray method does not "attach" the front of the quilt to the backing and can allow for shifting on a big quilt being stuffed through a domestic machine. My pin basting method is pretty painless and goes very quickly. I snapped some photos today as I did my Outlined Plus...

I baste any size quilt on the cutting table I have in my sewing room. Any table will work {a kitchen island works great!}. My table is 39" x 72" and my quilts are generally bigger than the table. I'll be basting what is on the table then moving the quilt to do the rest.

I center my backing on the table and use large binder clips to secure the backing. If the backing is smaller and doesn't come to the edge of the table, I tape it with masking tape. This will prevent wrinkles and movement of the backing fabric. You want it to be nice and taunt, but don't stretch it. Kind of like a well-made bed.

Next, I center my cotton batting over the backing {my batting favorite is Dream Cotton in Request or Select weight}, smooth it out, and center the quilt top over the batting. I smooth the top out and run my hands over the quilt to be sure there are no wrinkles.

I store my safety pins open and start pinning from the center out in a grid formation about every 3-4 inches. A good guideline is if you place your palm down on the quilt between 2 pins, there should be a pin touching each side of your hand.

As I'm placing my pins, I don't close them for 2 reasons. The first is that by pulling on the pin to close it you may shift the layers of your quilt sandwich. Once all the pins are in place your quilt layers are secure.

Secondly, I can close them much faster if I do them all at once and use this handy tool called a Kwik Klip. I HIGHLY recommend this if you do any safety pin basting. It speeds up the process tremendously and saves your fingers a bit. The tool is held in your left hand {if you're right handed} and used to lift the tip of the pin, so that you can push down on the top to close it. When you first try it, it won't seem very helpful, but keep going. Once you get the hang of it {maybe 50-100 pin closings}, you'll be shocked at how helpful it is. Really, get one. You'll thank me :)

Once the portion of the quilt on the table is basted and the pins are closed, I unclip everything and scoot it to one side. You can see in the picture below that I've moved it to one side. The portion that is already basted is clipped to the table.

The unpinned portion is along the right below. I've flipped up the top and the batting and clipped the backing to the table, pulling out any wrinkles. Then the batting and top are smoothed over and ready to be pinned.

Here, I've lifted up the batting so you can see how it's clipped again.

Once the right side is done, I'll scoot the quilt to the left side and finish up that side. Just about any quilt can be done in 3 sections. Today, I was able to place the long side on the length of my table, so I only had about 10-12" hanging on either side. A bigger quilt, I would have to put widthwise and have more of the length hanging off each edge. No matter what size your quilt, just securely baste what's on the table and then move out to the edges.

I did this one today in less then an hour and that was with taking pictures!

Once my quilt is basted, I cut off all but an inch or so of batting. Removing excess batting will really reduce the bulk of the quilt under the machine.

I like to use 50 weight Aurifil thread for machine quilting. It's nice and fine and blends into the quilt well. I generally choose a light color for overall quilting - maybe a light grayish version of one of the colors in the quilt. I've decided to do straight diagonal lines similar to how I quilted the mini version. I may change thread colors as I go - I've never done that before for straight line quilting, but I think all 3 of these may look nice with my colors...

Deciding how to quilt your quilt is something that takes experience and looking at a lot of quilting options. Whenever I'm looking for an idea, I often turn to one of these 4 books. I have many quilt design books, but these are my favorites. The Outlined Plus has lots of horizontal and vertical lines. That's why I'm choosing to do something diagonal to contrast with that. Anything soft and wavy could look really great too.

Or you could send it out to your favorite longarm quilter!

Don't forget you have one more week to be eligible for the prize drawing! See my previous post for the prizes and how to enter. I'll announce the winners next Wednesday! Good luck!


  1. Loved seeing how you baste on your table Cindy!! I need to remember to do this more often!!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I used to kneel on the floor but after we moved to a home with slate floors that was no longer an option for my knees. Then I started basting on the dining room table using a curtain rod to roll the top on...think I will try this way tomorrow.

  3. Such a beautiful quilt! And that is exactly how I baste quilts! So much better than crawling around on the floor!

  4. This looks like a great knee and back saver! Do the pins leave scratch marks on your table/counter surface?

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  6. Oh my goodness, Cindy! I've never done this...but love it! I have a big center island...I'm really looking forward to doing my quilts this way. Thank You.

  7. Thanks so much for this basting lesson! I have not found a method that I really like, but I'm definitely going to give this one a try. And your quilt is beautiful!

  8. Thanks for this great tutorial! No more crawling on the floor--love it!

  9. "I also feel that unlike safety pins, the spray method does not "attach" the front of the quilt to the backing and can allow for shifting on a big quilt being stuffed through a domestic machine. " THIS!! I pin baste also and sometimes use the same method you use and sometimes use long thing boards (2x4's??) that I had hubby find for me. I roll the back and front and then just place the batting and unroll as I go. My island is my go-to place for this because it's higher up than a standard table.

  10. Thanks for sharing Cindy! I love safety pin basting over all other methods and you’ve given some really helpful tips! Love your quilt!

  11. Thanks for sharing your basting technique, I gave up on pin basting as it was killing my fingers, I need to get and try the tool you use.

  12. Great post! Thanks for all the tips!

  13. That is, hands down, the best basting tutorial I've ever read! Bravo. I've always grovelled around on the floor to baste larger quilts, it never occurred to me to use binder clips. Genius! And I love the tip about leaving the safety pins open to the end. Makes perfect sense! Thank you, Cindy xx


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