Since I had a Facebook post early last week showing a small project I was machine quilting, I thought it would be a good time to do a blog post series on machine quilting small projects on the home machine. I’ll share some of my tips and at the end of next week’s post I’ll share a mini tutorial video I did demonstrating the technique. If you have never tried machine quilting on your home machine, perhaps this will give you the urge to try it. This week, we concentrate on getting the quilt top prepared for quilting. So let’s get started.
The Quilt Sandwich
To start, you need to make the quilt “sandwich”. Every time I say that, it makes me hungry….LOL! To do this, I like to cut my backing and batting about 1-2″ larger on all sides than my quilt top. This guarantees that my whole quilt top will have coverage. If you cut the backing and batting exactly to the size of your quilt top, you could accidentally shift things while basting and/or quilting and end up with an area along the edge of your quilt that does not have batting and backing. Believe me, you don’t want to pick out machine quilting stitches!
(**Extra Tip: If you are not going to quilt your own large quilt, confer with your long arm quilter on the amount of overlap of backing they prefer. I generally cut a backing 12″ larger on all 4 sides for a quilt that will go to my long arm quilter.)
If you need to seam together fabric for your backing, be sure to iron the seam open and flat to relieve bulk.
Now, you need to prepare your quilt top to be “sandwiched”. Make sure all your seams are all pressed flat, whether you press them to to the side or open. Flat seams make for a flat, less bulky quilt top for quilting. Also, remove any stray threads from the quilt top. Especially the ones that are in the seams. When you’re piecing a quilt top, threads often get caught in the seams (see below).
Moving on, make sure your backing is pressed and as wrinkle-free as possible. Find a large table and tape the backing, right side down, to the table top to keep it smooth and tight without stretching it out of shape. Start on one side and make your way to the other side while smoothing out the backing as you go. If you are lucky enough to have a large, hard floor space to do this, that works too.
Once the backing is secured, lay the batting on top, smoothing it out. Be careful not to wrinkle the backing below.
Now, center the quilt top on top of the batting. Smooth carefully so wrinkles are not created in the batting and you do not stretch the quilt top out of shape. Use a ruler to make sure you did not stretch it out of shape. Place the ruler on the corners to make sure they are still 90 degrees and not stretched.
The final step in the sandwiching is to baste the quilt top. You can either do that with thread or with safety pins.
Thread Basting Method: You can use white thread and a long running basting stitch in a grid pattern. Space the stitching 4 to 6″ apart. Start in the center of the quilt sandwich and work your way out.
Since the stitches are long and widely spaced, you can clip and remove the basting from each section you are quilting as you go.
Pin Basting Method: This is the method I use. I pin 3 to 4″ apart, starting in the center of the quilt top and working out to make sure the quilt top remains smooth and flat. I also like to stagger the pinned rows. I like to use curved safety pins made specifically for quilt basting.
So that’s the quilt sandwich. Now you are ready to machine quilt your project. Next week, I will share tips on the quilting process and my mini video tutorial. Leave a comment and you will be entered in my drawing for a pair of machine quilting gloves!
The drawing will take place on Monday, February 22nd, so you have two weeks to enter. Until next week…. **We have a winner! Congrats, Sharon Aurora!**