Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Needlework Tuesday - How to Pin Baste a Quilt

 Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you

In May, four of the local quilt shops hosted a shop hop.  At each store, quilters were given a piece of fabric and their passport was stamped.  At the final shop, you also received the instruction sheet.  Unfortunately my schedule only allowed me to visit two of the shops.  Lucky for me, a few days later, the shops had available for purchase the complete kit.  Working with the pieces that I did get on the hop, the kit and some fabrics from my stash, I was able to piece two of these banners.  One is for my house and the other for a far away friend.  I purchased my kit for the 'O Canada Banner'  at Reichard's: The Quilter's Store  . (you won't find this item on their website, but if you are interested, send Leslie and email) I have enough red left for the binding around one of the banners .  If you make this banner, remember to reverse the 'N' when you trace it on the fusible web, I didn't see that in the instructions, but then again, I am not known for carefully reading details.  Measures about 7 inches wide x 28 inches long.

A dear friend of mine is very new to quilting and has some questions about machine quilting.

Yes, you can quilt on your domestic sewing machine.  You don't have to purchase an expensive longarm machine.  With a little practise and patience, you can readily quilt a twin size quilt.  That is the largest I have done to date.  Yes, it's a bit tight stitching the middle of the quilt, but it can be done.  Thin batting helps.  I highly recommend that you start with smaller projects and work your way up.  I didn't know any better and quickly moved to a twin size quilt.  It turned out beautifully  Lots of stitch in the ditch, and meandering. Thirteen years later and it still looks good.

My favourite batting is Hobbs 80/20.  I always pre-shrink according to the package directions, likewise, I pre-wash the fabric for my quilt top.  I don't want any surprises.  Up till today, I also used Polydown, but perhaps I won't be using that again.  Details below.

 Pin basting is a quick and easy way to prep your quilt.  First step is to piece your back a couple of inches larger than the top and to press open the seam allowances.  This helps to reduce bulk.  Lay the back, wrong side up on the ground/carpet.  Pin or tape in place.  I like to use the large pins and stick them well into the carpet.  I pin along one edge, being careful to keep that edge very straight.  Next, go to the opposite edge and smooth the backing and then pin in place.  You want to fabric taut, but not stretched.  After the two ends are pinned, move to the sides, smoothing as you go.

 On the backing, I place the pins about 6-8 inches apart.  Note that I have pressed my seams open.
 I bought my batting off the role at a nearby quilt shop.  I wasn't paying attention.  The quality of the batt is very poor.  Not sure if you can tell in the photo, but the thickness of the batt varies greatly and at the edge on the right is more than twice the thickness of that on the left.  I should have stopped here and bought new batt, but I figured that since it was a practise quilt, it would work out.  Nope, I ended up ripping out all my work after about an hour.

The piece on the left is thin, you can almost see through it.  The one on the right, further along the same edge, it more than twice as thick.  Bad, bad, bad.

Pre-shrink your batting if desired.  I start from one corner and gently lay my batting on top of the backing.  Carefully smooth the batting, don't stretch it.  You may need to shift it a bit to straighten.  Take your time, it is well worth the extra ten minutes or so.  I don't pin the batting down as it seems to cling quite well to the backing.

 Finally, the quilt top.  For this size quilt, I just wing it, but for a larger top, I match the middle of the edges to the middles of the backing.   Before laying out the backing, fold it in quarters and pin at the creases.  Do the same for the top.  When you lay the quilt top down, align the pins and that will centre your top.  Once you have smoothed the top, start by pinning the top edge.  I don't close these pins, I stick them down into the carpet.  Next do the opposite edge, additional smoothing as required.  Now do the two edges.

Next is the fun part.  First I think about how I am going to quilt the top.  I don't want to place pins where I am going to have to remove them right away.  I generally start in the middle and pin out from that point, placing pins about a hand span apart.  As you can see in the photo, I place a lot of pins near the edge, every 3 or 4 inches.

Once the middle is all pinned, then I move to the edge and add extra pins and adjust the ones that are stuck into the carpet, and close them.  Final step, is to remove the pins holding the backing down.  Before picking up the basted quilt, check that they are no loose pins.  I don't want my family stepping on a open pin.  I don't bother closing the pins when I remove them from the top as I'll just have to open them again.

I use the special pins from the quilt shop.  They are not supposed to rust.  Some of mine are over ten years old and no rest in sight.  I have both the straight and the bent ones, they work equally well for me.

Do not be stingy when cutting your backing, it's really annoying to find that you made it an inch too small and you have to unpin and add more fabric.  Like wise with the batting,  more than once it has shrunk more than expected and I've had to add a piece.

For now, I do my pin basting on the floor.  It can be a bit hard on the back. but it's what I have.  If you have access to those large folding tables, push two of them together and use masking tape to hold down the backing.   If you have one table available, line up the end of the backing on the table and tape in place.  Layer with the batting and then add the quilt top, being very careful to get the top straight.  Pin the section.  Remove the tape and then shift the quilt along the table.  Repeat the process until the entire top is basted.  Once you have finished, double check both sides to ensure that you have pinned evenly.

Now you are ready to stitch.

I did start the machine stitching.  I was doing stitch  in the ditch, along the black boarders.  The batt was so thick that the fabric kept stretching and shifting and I was getting all sorts of tucks.  It took a lot longer to un-stitch, but now it's ready for a new batt.  This time I'm going back to the 80/20.

Marie at Daisy's Book Journal didn't get to her needlework this week but she has a wonderful assortment of garden projects on the go.


Linda said...

Hobb's is my fav too. I get a few when Michael's has a half off coupon. I need to make a Canada quilt. I love the banner you made.

Marie said...

Great tutorial, Heather. Thanks for posting it. I, too, love your banner.