Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spray Basting Tutorial with Kristie

There are a few ways to baste your quilts, and lots of variations. I couldn't pass by Basting week in Quilt Class without sharing a tutorial on Spray Basting. Petra jumped in last class with a linky, so you can see how she bastes her quilts.. Thanks Petra! And for this week's featured blogger... I'm thrilled to introduce you to another favourite of mine.. The lovely Kristie from
Her blog is the bomb!! She is always making something cool that you just HAVE to make! I love these and they are definitely on my to do list!

So, Thank you Kristie, for sharing with us YOUR way!

Spray Basting with Dumbbells (not a reference to your intelligence!)
Hi There! I'm Kristie from ocd: obsessive crafting disorder. Nice to meet you! Feel free to stop by my blog and say hello! I started this quilting business myself a year ago, and have learned so much along the way! It is great to share some of my knowledge and mishaps with some more new quilters here at Quilting Class 101. I am here with Bec at Chasing Cottons today to chat with you about the most dreaded step for most quilters....basting!

What is Basting, exactly?
Basting is the process of temporarily adhering your quilt top and back with a batting layer in the center- this combination is sometimes called the "quilt sandwich." While this step is undoubtedly dull, it is critical to secure the 3 layers that will become your final quilt to prevent puckering due to shifting of layers during the top stitching or "quilting" process that joins it all together.

So, here is what you need to make yourself a quilt sandwich.

-First off, make yourself a gorgeous quilt top out of some drool-worthy fabric
-Make a quilt back that coordinates with the top and is about 6 inches BIGGER than the quilt top in both length and width. This leaves you about 3 inches of overhang around all of the quilt top edges. Why? This gives some extra wiggle room so that if the top and back are not perfectly lined up, you are not left with exposed batting showing.
-Lastly, cut a piece of batting that is approximately the same size as the quilt back.

Now that you have all your sandwich components, basting can begin.

There are several different methods to baste a quilt:
1. Using thread and needle, and hand stitching large stitches across the sandwich that are later removed.
2. Using safety pins, placed at regular intervals over the quilt sandwich, that are removed as you approach them during the quilting process... Bec's Way!!
3. Using basting spray.
I am going to discuss the method I use, which is a spray basting method. I started out using the safety pin method, and while many do this very successfully, I found that I spent too much time removing pins and readjusting my layers during quilting, and still would get the odd pucker in the fabric. Since switching to basting spray (cue sunbeams and angels singing), I have not had a single pucker, and have cut my basting time in half! For me, the extra money to buy the spray baste is well worth the savings at the Bank of Frustration!

I have only used one basting spray- it is called 505, and I have seen it marketed in two different cans, like these:
I have no affiliation with this company, and I am sure there are many baste-worthy sprays out there, but this is the only one I use and can attest to. It sticks well, is repositionable, and does not seep through or stain your quilt, nor does it gum up your machine needle. In Canada it retails for about $17 (Cdn/US/Aus $ are all pretty similar right now) for the small can, and $32 for the large can (they are labelled differently, but it looks more than double the size). I can do about 5 baby quilts or 2+ lap quilts from a small can. The can mentions to spray in a well ventilated space, and I have seen some quilters go so far as to use gas masks, but I can tell you that I just use it right in my kitchen, and during Canadian winters, I don't even open a window. Gasp! And, it SEEMS I still have the majority of my brain cells intact (you be the judge). Please choose your spray basting site with the precautions that make you feel comfortable.

Here are the steps I use to successfully spray baste my quilts:

1. Find a floor space in your home that is large enough for your quilt to lay flat and give a few feet to maneuver all around. Give that space a sweep or vacuum to remove debris (who wants cereal bits forever inside your quilt?).

2. Take your batting layer and lay it flat on the floor. Here is where those dumbbells come in- place one on one corner, then smooth the batting flat and place on the next, and so on, until all 4 corners are secure. Do not stretch the batting, but smooth and pull taunt.

Why dumbbells? Well, for one, my husband was sick of holding corners for me. I had tried painters tape, too, but found it let go while I would smooth or apply pressure, and I certainly can't see that sticking for those doing this on carpet. A nice 20-30 lb dumbbell will sit still, quietly, as long as you need it. And might as well use them for something, right?
3. Take your quilt top and center it on the secured batting. Smooth out wrinkles and adjust as needed to center.
4. Grab your spray. Sit on your knees in the center of your quilt top, and peel one side back towards you.
Pile it on your lap. This way you are working from the center outward. Position the can about 30 cm/12 inches from the batting, and spray in a circular motion- I only use a light layer.
Pick up your quilt top from your lap, hold it up high with one hand and use your second hand to smooth the top against the sprayed portion of the batting to remove wrinkles. Continue until you have gotten all the way to the edge and have the first half complete.
Then, go back to the center of your quilt top, peel back the opposite (unsprayed) side, and repeat going in the other direction until the entire quilt top is secured to the batting.

What happens if there is a wrinkle in the top at this point? The spray baste is repositionable, which means you can lift the fabric from the batting and smooth the wrinkled area, moving to the outside edge of the quilt, until it is removed. No worries!

5. Next, you are going to use some safety pins to mark the perimeters of your quilt top to help you to align the back. I put pins at each of the 4 corners to form an "L" shape, and again at the measured center of each side. Lastly, I use 2 pins to mark an "X" at the exact center of my quilt top. Make sure all of these pins go through both the top and batting layers so you will be able to see them on the other side.
Center X:

Side center pins:
Corner L (as seen from batting side):
6. Roll the dumbbells off your corners and flip over so the quilt top is now facing down, and the batting is facing up. Give it a quick look over to make sure the batting is not bunched anywhere- if so, you may have to go back and reposition your quilt top to smooth out as above. Once it all looks right, secure the corners with the dumbbells again like you did at the beginning.

7. Grab your quilt back and find the exact center. You can do this by using measuring tape or by simply folding it in half and in half again- the middle corner is the center. Make an "X" here with safety pins as you did for the top/batting. Now take this pinned area, unfasten one of the pins and use it to pin to the X showing through the batting, marking the center of the top. It is kind of hard to see your top through the batting, right? This makes sure they are lined up and the centers stay stuck together as you smooth. For larger quilts, twin sized and up, you may also want to pin down the side centers to further ensure that there is no rotation of the quilt back relative to the front.
8. Smooth the back flat along the batting. Check that the edges of the back are parallel to the pin guides showing the edge of the top through the batting. For a plain back, this is all you need to do. Sometimes, for more intricate pieced quilt back designs that require even more precision to line up front and back, I use more pins at this stage by poking them through the design on the back and then checking where the pins emerge at the front and adjusting accordingly.

For example: In this quilt I wanted the angle of the pinwheels on the back to line up with the half square triangles on the front. So, I stuck a pin in one corner of the pinwheel:
Checked where it came out in the front- too far from seam!
Adjusted back until the pin lined up on the seam in front as shown:

Repeated for series of pinwheels:

And voila! Final quilting lines were perfectly parallel!
9. Once satisfied with alignment, kneel in the center and peel back one half of the back and spray baste, moving to the outer edges, as you did for the quilt top. Repeat with second side to complete. If needed, take time to confirm alignment with pins as mentioned in step 9. Then, remove all of your pins.

10. Admire :-)
Ta da! You have a basted quilt! Good job! Now, you can advance confidently into the home stretch- quilting and binding. Have fun!! Thanks for listening to my ramblings today, I hope it was of help, and thanks to Bec for inviting me to share my 2 cents :-) If you have any questions on spray basting, feel free to email me at:
Happy quilting!

Thanks Kristie for sharing with us today! xx Its a gorgeous Quilt! xx



  1. thanks for the tutorial. I have bookmarked it.

  2. beautiful work, interesting tutorial

  3. Thank you so much for this tutorial! Those dumbbells will finally be used ;)

  4. That was really useful, and very good timing. I was recommended spray basting at the shop where I bought my machine, but I haven't had the guts to use it yet. I will try it out on my next baby sized quilt

  5. Thanks for the great tutorial. I have spray basted several times but she gave me some new tips that I really appreciate and think will be very helpful!

  6. Using spray sounds easier than pins. I will have to try it. I love how she staged her quilt. Wasn't she afraid it would end up in the drink.

  7. Thanks a lot for your tutorial! I haven't tried this yet and these are some great tips! I love your humor!

  8. love all the white and bits of colour - great quilt, and great instructions

  9. Brilliant, I love to spray baste but that's the best way I have ever seen it done. Thank you so much.

  10. I just spray basted three quilts on the wall- one of them Queen sized. I cant say enough good things about this idea.

  11. I meant the spray basting idea - not necessarily my idea. I sounded rather arrogant - sorry abou that.

  12. Great tutorial! That's also the only spray I have used.

  13. This tutorial is amazing! I have spray basted 1 quilt and did not ever want to do it again. I will definitely try again using this technique. Thank you SO much!

  14. I just spray basted my first ever quilt using this tutorial and it went perfectly! Thank you!

  15. Loved the tutorial. I will definately use this method for next quilt. By the way love your quilt top. What pattern is it? i would love to make it.

  16. What about a quilt that will be hand quilted? I'm afraid of the needle not sliding through the layers properly.

  17. I just did this the last two evenings on a king size quilt. It was quite a job since I only have carpets and kept getting more wrinkles...however, it is all smooth now and I'm exhausted since I'm more than a senior citizen age and almost 80 yo.

  18. BTW...can you give us the name of the quilt pattern with all the octagons? It is beautiful and you did a fantastic job on your piecing.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Oops, my link didn't work above, so, repost! Aaaanyway, thanks for the tutorial; I posted a link from my blog:


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