Sunday, June 28, 2020

Time for Free-Motion Quilting

The other day I did my least favorite thing in the quiltmaking process: I basted a quilt for free-motion quilting:

Here it is, all folded up--it's 70" square and this is the back. No, I can't show you the front yet...

I have a detailed Tutorial on how I pin-baste for machine quilting. The quilt in the Tutorial is larger than this one. For this one, I used my dining room table, laying out the back, batt and quilt top centered on the table. I taped and clamped the back down, then pin-basted the center of the quilt. NOTE: I don't close the pins until the entire quilt is pin-basted. Once the center section was pinned, I un-taped and un-clamped the quilt, slid it over to one side, and re-taped and re-clamped the back. I put pins in that side, then did the same on the opposite side.

Once all the pins were in place, I carefully turned the entire thing over to check for pleats or puckers.  There are always a few near the outside edges. It is a simple matter to remove the offending pins, flatten out the 3 layers again, and re-pin. When it is completely flat, no puckers or pleats, I turn it over and close all the pins.

This process took about 2.5 hours. I should  have been playing music because I just don't find this task fun. Necessary but not fun.

UPDATE: There is a fantastic video in the Classroom of The Quilt Show, featuring Cindy Needham and her table method for pin-basting:  Pin Basting with Cindy Needham. I sure wish I had seen this BEFORE I basted this one. What a great way to be sure the back is flat and square! Just another reason every quilter should be a member of The Quilt Show--with the current "Staying at Home Special" of $19.95 for 6 months or $39.95 for a year, I truly believe this is the best bang for your quilting buck. Join Now!

Next I made a "test" quilt sandwich from several of the fabrics in the top, the same batt and back:

This will be used to test a variety of threads, their colors, and set the tension for each. It is also used to warm up before tackling the quilt each day. The batt is Pellon Wool Blend, soft, with some loft, that will give dimension to the quilting. I have several ideas for quilting designs I am eager to try on this.

Before I jump into quilting this one, I will finish the quilting on my Foothills Quilt, which I began quilting in April. I wrote about that HERE. It will be good practice to get loosened up for the quilting on the "mystery" project:

 Fortunately, I kept a sketch of the quilting design, along with the rulers used for those designs, handy, until I could get back to the Foothills quilt:

Another thing I do as soon as I baste a quilt, is cut the extra back fabric for the Sleeve I attach to every quilt I make.  The fabric is cut to approximate size and I put a note on it that says "Sleeve" so I don't accidentally use it for some other purpose. Since I know what the binding fabric will be, I have also made that already--it is saved with the sleeve--in a safe place. And that place is noted in my Journal, on the page that lists "Where Did I Put?"

I will be glad to have Foothills quilted and be ready to get to work quilting the mystery, soon.

What is your least favorite part of the quiltmaking process?

Let's quilt,



  1. I too dislike sandwiching my quilts together. I don't make them as large as yours and they are still challenging. I usually spray baste though and then pin a little. Second on that list is hand basting the binding down on the back. My hands just hurt then. For non-show quilts I will sew my binding entirely by machine. I look forward to seeing your mystery there. Cheers.

  2. Hand stitching the binding, that is. LOL

  3. Great post Barbara. I also prefer pin basting or just hand stitches for basting. The spray adhesive bothered my sinuses, and it did not hold the sandwich together well for me. Looking forward to seeing your finished quilt.

  4. If you had asked this question a week ago, it would have been binding! All aspects of binding, but this week I used my #88 Foot on my 790 AND NOW I LONGER HATE BINDING!! SO, now my answer is this very process of preparing the quilt sandwich! Lol!

  5. No need to think hard - it is the basting, nothing creative about it...

  6. My least favorite is basting the quilt for hand quilting (in my lap). Yesterday I use the new fusible bonding that you sprinkle and iron. Haven't started quilting yet so don't know how it worked or how I like it. My favorite part is hand stitching the binding.

  7. it used to be basting as I had to clear off the dining room table and struggle with the all the components. Now I have a long-arm and evern a small piece, I baste there. Then it was the squaring off before putting the binding on. Since the larger quilts are destined for beds, not show, I just cut along the edges--not square necesarily but done.