What is Basting
Basting is what you do to prepare your quilt to be quilted! You create a “quilt sandwich” made up of three layers, your backing fabric, batting, and quilt top. There are many different ways to baste, but I will share what I have found to work for me! You will need a flat space to work on that is larger than your quilt and the following tools.
Tools for Basting
To baste your quilt you will need a few supplies:
Backing Fabric: this is the fabric that will make up the back of your quilt. Choose a print or a solid-whatever makes you happy! Your backing fabric needs to a few inches bigger than your quilt top on every side. For a baby sized quilt you will typically be able to keep your fabric in one piece (for the I Think I Can Quilt you will need 1 and 1/4 yard of fabric in one continuous piece). To back a larger quilt you will usually have to cut your backing fabric and sew it back together, changing it from a very long and thin piece of fabric, to a piece that is closer to a square and the actual shape of your quilt.
Batting: this is what goes in the middle of your quilt and gives it its fluff. There are many different brands and materials of batting. I prefer to use 100% cotton batting, but there is also polyester, wool and bamboo batting. When you are looking at batting it is important to note how far apart you can quilt using that batting. I use Warm and Natural brand because when you quilt, your lines can be as far apart as 10 inches, and I don’t usually quilt very densely. Batting is sold in different sizes, from craft to king and even in giant rolls. Make sure your batting will be a few inches bigger than your quilt top on each side.
Quilt Top: this is what you just sewed together! The quilt top is where your design and hard work happened and it is time to show it off.
Painter’s Tape: Painter’s tape is useful because it does not leave a sticky residue on your surface but it holds your fabric in place. If you are able to find wider painter’s tape it will be easier to use when you baste.
Safety Pins: this is how you hold the layers of your quilt together and the main tool of basting. Some people prefer to use spray baste, but I find safety pins to be the most secure.
The Steps of Basting
1. Lay out your backing fabric on your large, flat, surface, with the right side facing down. The right side is the side that the pattern is printed on, or either side of a solid fabric. Make sure your fabric is smooth and flat. Pick a side to start and tape down that side of the backing fabric. Then move to the opposite side, stretch it tight, but not tight enough to pucker the fabric. Tape down this side of the fabric. Repeat this with the other two sides of the quilt. Finally, pull the fabric tight from each corner, and tape them down. As a reminder, your fabric should be right side down, flat and tight, without pucker.
2. Lay your batting out over the backing fabric. Smooth the batting out so there are no wrinkles or puckers.
3. Lay your quilt top out over the backing fabric and batting, right side facing up. Smooth it out and make sure each side of the top is inside the backing and batting on all sides.
4. Start pin basting your quilt! The way you do this is up to you and the density of pins you use is whatever will make you comfortable in its security. I like to start on one side and pin inside each square of the quilt top, making sure the pin goes through all three layers. As you move around the quilt, continue to smooth it out and keep it tight so it remains flat across the other layers. Once you have pinned in each square (or however often you feel is secure), you are done basting your quilt!