As soon as you have completed layering your quilt, you can move on to basting it. Whether you choose to quilt your quilt by hand or with a machine, basting ensures that all of the layers remain in their proper positions throughout the process.
One possible method for basting is to use pins.
The use of large safety pins is popular among machine quilters because it is simple to remove them as the quilting is completed in each section, and there is no risk of the basting threads becoming stitched over and becoming difficult to remove. In addition, there are instances in which the presser foot gets caught on the basting threads, which causes the quilt to bunch up as it is being quilted – at least until the thread is cut.
Quilters have developed a variety of quick and easy methods for closing safety pins, including the following:
- Using a grapefruit spoon, you can, with some practice, position the edge of the spoon with the serrations under the pointed end of the pin, and then snap it shut.
- How about using a butter knife? Insert the pin into the quilt, then slide the butter knife under the pin (at the pointy end), and then angle the knife up to snap the pin shut. This should do the trick.
A few more helpful hints regarding the utilization of safety pins:
- Pins with a nickel plating or any other coating that prevents rust should be used. The appearance of rust spots on your quilt as a result of the use of safety pins is very disheartening.
- Even if you use pins that won’t rust, you shouldn’t leave them in for an extended period of time. Take the additional time necessary to thread baste the quilt if you are aware that the quilting process will take several months to complete.
Thread basting is yet another alternative:
Take note of the large stitches in a quilt that has been basted with thread.
Many quilters find that working with longer needles, such as a #7 cotton darning needle or a milliner’s needle, makes basting a quilt an easier process.
Some quilters prefer to use a needle with a slight curve (similar to a tapestry needle), and then they position a soup spoon underneath the quilt to help guide the needle back up through the fabric of the quilt.
Make sure that your seam allowances continue to point in the desired direction by utilizing your basting stitches.
Make use of a thread in a “ugly” color for your basting; this is an excellent way to put thread to good use that you won’t be able to use for another project. Just make sure that the color you choose for your quilt is one that won’t come off easily. It’s possible that red thread will leave a mark on your fabric that you didn’t intend to have. When threading the needle, do so while the thread is still on the spool. This will ensure that you have sufficient thread length. Position the spool so that it is in the middle of the quilt (or wherever you will begin your basting stitches).
While you are working on the quilt, take your stitches and pull the thread through the quilt after every stitch or two. At the same time, allow the thread to unwind from the spool. When you have finished piecing the quilt and have reached the end of the project, tie a knot in the spot where the needle was. After cutting the thread from the spool, ensure that you leave a tail that is sufficiently long to tie a knot, and then proceed to tie the knot. Begin again. Because of this, you will never be left with long snagged bits of thread after the project is complete.
Your quilt’s thread basting should look like an X when viewed from the center.
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