Want to Master Your Quilting Skills?—Learn How to Baste a Quilt

There are some sophisticated, extra skills to gain in quilting, and there are those necessary, basic ones—knowing how to baste a quilt belongs to the second category. 

What does it mean to baste in quilting?

According to Craftsy, to baste refers to the technique that temporarily holds together the quilt sandwich layers as you quilt.

This article explains how to baste a quilt in the most understandable way—at the end, you’ll have no doubts about how to put basting into practice. 

You can also dig into the Super Label Store blog findings to learn:

How to baste a quilt—methods

So, let’s find out how to incorporate basting into your quilting practice smoothly.

There are so many methods to baste a quilt that we won’t name them all. The table below highlights the most popular options:

Technique Description How to do it
Pin basting It’s the most popular basting technique. Place pins all over the quilt sandwich, ensuring you set the layers securely in place. It’s a solid but also a pretty time-consuming method. 

Use 1½” safety pins or curved basting pins—they don’t leave large holes in the quilt top. You’ll need around a hundred safety pins for a twin-sized quilt. 

Check out the best-curved safety pins for quilting on the Best Quilting Tools

Spray basting The spray basting method is based on the use of a temporary adhesive spray. It’s specifically designed for the fabric sewing quilting to hold the layers of a quilt sandwich in place. Read also about the types of fabric, types of cotton fabric, and types of polyester fabric

How to spray baste a large quilt? To make your quilt sandwich, spray the adhesive onto the wrong side of both the back and the quilt top. You’ll also need a special spray adhesive.

This method is fast (basting a twin-sized quilt takes about 10 minutes), effective, and leaves fewer wrinkles than pin basting. 

However, it has a few drawbacks:

    • can be pricey (about $13 for a 10-ounce can), 
    • it’s flammable, and 
    • can be harmful to breathe in—use it only in a well-ventilated area and avoid it if you’re pregnant;

One tip straight from quilters: to decide whether you have enough safety pins in the pin basting technique, use a hand test. After you’ve put what you believe to be a sufficient amount of pins, place your hand on the quilt surface. If your fingers touch no pins, you need more of them!

Tackle basting a quilt in this Craftsy article. 

How to pin baste a quilt
Image source: We All Sew

There are two more basting techniques, as observed by Craftsy:

Technique Description How to do it
Fuse basting

What are some fusible products available on the market? 

    1. Large cuts of a double-sided fusible web to place on both sides of the batting fuse the quilt sandwich, or 
    2. Strips of fusible tape are used to create small basting tacks between your three layers, i.e., quilt backing fabric, batting, and quilt top.
Quite a costly option, but also a real time-saver. 
Hand basting

Make long, loose stitches by hand to hold the layers together.

Read about the quilting thread and how to quilt as you go

This technique works best for quilters who hand quilt their projects. With hand basting, it’s easy to remove stitches along the way by simply snipping the threads.

However, if you’re more into technology, you’ll benefit from the article about the best sewing machine for quilting

How to pin a quilt

Some methods that we mentioned above require a closer look. 

“How to baste a quilt with safety pins,” explains GourmetQuilter:

But the situation changes with larger projects. For example, how to pin baste a large quilt on a table?

According to Kathy K Wylie, it can be a challenge at first, but working at it in sections makes it more manageable. 

How to baste a quilt
Image source: Sew Can She

If you want a 

    • successful, 
    • professional, and 
    • pucker-free finished quilt

Faith Jones from We All Sew believes no technique beats pin basting. However, she also admits that a popular alternative—spray basting—works well with smaller projects like pillows or bag panels. 

Basting in sewing and quilting
Image source: Craftsy

What are the best safety pins for quilting? 

Quilt Dom lists several examples:

    1. Dritz Size 2 Curved Safety Pins, Nickel-Plated Steel, 40 Ct. (3 Pack),
    2. ibotti Curved Safety Pins for Quilting, Size 2, 100-count,
    3. Dritz Quilting 3032 Curved Safety Pins for Large Projects, Size 1, 300 Count,
    4. iNee Curved Safety Pins, Quilting Basting Pins, Nickel-Plated Steel, Size 2, 100 Count,
    5. Batino 100pcs Safety Pins Curved Basting Sewing Quilting Bending Pins DIY 38mm,
    6. 100 Pcs Silver Curved Safety Pins, Quilting Basting Pins, Nickel-Plated Steel, 1.97in/50mm,
    7. Dritz 3013 Curved Basting Safety Pins, Size 3 (40-Count);

Pinmoors for quilting
Image source: Christa Quilts

Now that we know the best basting pins for quilting let’s see how to baste a quilt on a table.

It’s best to find a hard surface to baste your quilt on, such as a table or a wood floor. 

Follow this guide by New Quilters to find out

    • how to pin baste a quilt on the floor, and
    • how to pin baste a quilt on a tabletop;

For starters, you’ll have to take: 

    • a finished quilt top pressed with laundry starch or Best Press, 
    • batting at least 1-2’’ larger than the quilt top on all sides,
    • a quilt backing at least 2’’ larger than the quilt top on all sides (also pressed with laundry starch or Best Press). 

Read more on Sew Can She.

Also, a day before assembling your sandwich, unroll your batting to help the folds relax. We write about batting tape for quilting below. 

Batting tape for quilting
Image source: Club Tissus

If you’re putting all your heart into your quilts and want them to be perfect, consider also upgrading your projects with  

—ready to design and order on Super Label Store

Adding these custom labels will not only make you feel like a pro but can also be helpful for those who receive the quilt. 

Labels can contain 

    • necessary care information about your quilt’s fabric, 
    • date of production, or even
    • quote or poem! 

Find out how to make a quilt label on our blog. 

Another word of advice comes from Sew Can She

How to baste a large quilt? 

Consider equipping yourself with a wide blue painter’s tape.

If you’re wondering how to pin baste a quilt on a table or a hard floor, this tape will be perfect because:

    1. it’s easy to remove afterward and leaves no residue on the surface, 
    2. it sticks great to the surface and fabric; 

A blue painter’s tape securing your quilt backing fabric to start your project will work out seamlessly. 

Basting tape quilting
Image source: Sew Can She

We use “safety,” “curved,” and “basting” pins interchangeably, but are they the same thing?

The difference between regular safety pins and curved pins is subtle but evident: the curved pins are slightly bent.

This feature makes it easier to 

    1. come back up through the three layers, and
    2. simplify closing the pin against your taut fabric;

According to many quilters, curved pins are easier to use for basting. 

Other methods

Now that you know how to pin baste a quilt, let’s check out other methods. 

Have you ever heard about Pinmoors for quilting? They are easy to use, non-toxic (contrary to popular basting sprays) silicon nuggets that help baste quilts quicker and easier than ever. 

All you have to do is push them on the end of a straight pin. They’ll cap the pin and stay in place for as long as you want them to.

Check out these original Pinmoor options.  

Best basting pins for quilting
Image source: Needle and Foot

Another solution is basting powder for quilting. 

It’s easy to use—all you need to do is sprinkle it over the base material or fabric. 

Next, place the second piece of fabric over the top of the powdered surface. Now, the thing gets a bit more complex: cover with parchment paper or a Teflon pressing sheet and apply direct heat and pressure with an iron for at least 4 seconds to set the bond.

The most popular basting powder product is Free Fuse (to buy on The Quilt Show). 

Basting powder creates a semi-permanent bond between fabrics. It’s excellent for

    • quilting, 
    • applique, 
    • fusing fabric to fabric, and more!

Alex Anderson from The Quilt Show explains how the Free Fuse basting powder works:

For more handy guides, go to Super Label Store to find out: 

How to baste a large quilt
Image source: Tangible Culture Llc

Is basting a quilt necessary? 

Whether you like it or not, basting is crucial in the quilting process. While it may seem useless at first and requires extra time, doing it right will ensure you end up with a professional-looking quilting project. 

To get even more advanced in quilting, tackle topics such as quilt kits, pre-quilted fabric, and quilt blocks for beginners;

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