Basting

Basting
I know I’ve written in the newsletter that I’m quilting along, actually EATING as much as quilting, and that IS true. However, I just came across some photographs of how I marked and basted “The Big Green Monster” and thought you might be interested.

I draft my quilting designs on paper so that they fit my quilt exactly. I use the paper from examination tables at the doctor’s office. (For every 10 minutes you have to wait in that drafty, flimsy paper “gown” take 2 feet. You can also buy it at medical supply places and you don’t have to be a doctor.)

I draw my designs in pencil, then go over them with a black felt tip pen and tape them on my light box.

I now have a professional light box that I picked up when a local printer was going out of business, but you can make your own light box, too.

Next, I place my quilt on top of the paper “pattern,” and tape it in place.

Not only is it fun to see your quilt as if it were “stained glass” but I can see the black felt tip lines through the fabric well enough to trace them onto the quilt. I use either a blue water soluble marker or an Aquarelle washout marking pencil. (I marked the quilting in the two inner borders “freehand.”

Sometimes I also transfer the quilting designs to plastic and create a template as I’ve done for the center feather motif here.

Once the quilting design is marked, I pin the quilt parts into my frame—backing first (wrong side up), then batting (laid on top, not pinned), and finally the top (right side up).

My frame is made out of four 1 x 2s which are long narrow pieces of wood I call “sticks.” I have stapled heavy fabric to each stick so that it hangs over the edge. I pin the quilt backing and top through this fabric. I also have stapled long tape measures to each stick so I can make sure the quilt is stretched consistently on all four sides.

The sticks are clamped at the corners with C-clamps so that I can adjust the tension at will. The sticks rest on telescoping quilting “legs” that allow me to baste standing up or sitting down.

After the quilt is “in frame” I begin basting, with…..BASTING thread. I go around the outside edge of the quilt, very close to the edge, removing the pins as I go. This line of basting will never be removed as the binding will cover it.

Then, I baste in a grid pattern, running lines of basting stitches east to west (I’m left-handed) and north to south. The closer I baste the better. I aim for about 3 inches between lines of basting stitches.

I baste as far as my long arms will reach on all four sides. Then it’s time to roll.

I take the frame off the legs and lay it on the floor. Then I remove two C-clamps along one side and roll the part of the quilt I’ve basted.

I do the same on the opposite side of the frame. Then I pop the quilt back on the legs and I’m ready to baste some more.

I keep basting and rolling until the entire quilt is basted.