Thank you all so much for all the kind words on the Echo Star quilt! The quilt pattern for it is currently in work and will be available very soon, I will keep you posted. And I can't wait to see the Echo Stars you guys make!
I already mentioned wanting to try out a new way to baste my quilt layers together. After some research, I have basted 2 quilts using this "new" method and I decided to write up a tutorial for it, in case anyone else would like to try it out.
The challenges I have had:
- I don't care for those safety pins with a bend in them that are made for quilting. They make large holes in the fabric, and sometimes even slightly discolor the fabric around the hole (which seems to come out in the wash, but still worrysome).
- I want to baste my quilts on my studio table (two of these IKEA table tops bolted together to make one larger table) instead of the floor. There is no space in our house that is large enough to baste on the floor except in a high traffic area, so it's stressful on many levels. And I am sure that I am making little marks on the hardwood floor when I stick the pins through the layers.
- And I already leave a mess of supplies all over the house anyway.
- I have basted using the hand-sewing process for years and it works, but it's better for hand quilting than machine quilting. Plus I can't get past the feeling that I'm quilting twice, I'd love to find an easier way.
- I heard about Leah Day's pin anchors, used to cap the tips of straight pins called Pinmoor's, but they are very pricey, and I added up a minimum cost of $80 to baste a quilt (using 200 straight pins, although I would probably use more). There had to be a cheaper alternative.
- There has to be an easier way to hold the quilt back firmly in place besides using painter's or masking tape.
So, I dug around, did some research, tried some things out, and here's the method and tools that worked like a charm (2 quilts down with absolutely NO pleats on the back). There are thousands of ways out there to baste a quilt, but this method worked for me.
- Your quilt top, backing, and batting (make sure the backing and batting is at least 4" larger than your quilt top on all 4 sides).
- A good supply of straight pins, I used at least 200 (I like the Clover flower head pins because they are long)
- 1 sheet of 6mm thick craft foam (important to use the thicker craft foam sheet here, the thinner won't work unless you glue several sheets together). Pick a color that would contrast with most of your quilt tops.
- At least 12 or more of some sort of spring clamp set- I bought mine at Lowe's in assorted sizes, to see what worked, and actually found the larger ones worked best. (Jess, thank you for suggesting I look at the hardware store!). Make sure they fit around the edge work table you'll be basting on.
- Painter's tape
- Spray Starch
To pin baste the quilt layers:
1. Before you begin basting, press your quilt backing using spray starch. Press well, don't skimp on this step.
2. If your quilt is larger than the table you will be basting on (mine always is), start at one side/corner, letting the excess hang off of the opposite sides of the table. Place your quilt back on the table right side down, and smooth it well. As you smooth it, use the spring clamps to hold it in place, pulling it taut as it smooths out, and reclamping as needed. Clamp down all 4 sides of the table this way.
3. Next, add the batting. As with the quilt back, do this slowly and methodically, smoothing out small areas at at time, starting from the center section and working outward. As you smooth up to the edge where each clamp is, unclamp, pull the quilt batting and reclamp (Tip- Don't overpull the quilt batting. I use cotton batting, and I think overpulling it makes it shrink back together even more than I'd like when the quilt is washed. Your goal is smoothing it into place, not pulling.
5. Place your quilt top right side up on top of your quilt layers, allowing the extra backing and batting to extend beyond the quilt top on all sides to allow for any shifting during the quilting process. Smooth it all out as before, and add this layer to the clamps all around the table. (Using the larger clamps allowed me to grab the edges of the quilt top that didn't go all the way up to the edge, as you can see below).
6. Cut squares from your craft foam about 1/2" x 1/2". Cut plenty so you won't have to stop and cut more.
7. Make a slight bend in each straight pin before you insert it through the layers, like this-
Starting from the center area of the quilt top, put a pin through all 3 layers, and cap the top with a square of the craft foam. Pin your quilt top well, I put pins every 4" or so (and hand's width apart) but in tricky areas I put as many as I need.
7. Once you've thoroughly pinned the entire tabletop's work of quilt, unclamp, and shift the quilt so that you can do the opposite side and repeat the process.
Any questions let me know!