Gotham Quilts Spray Basting Tutorial

One of the questions that I am asked most often is about quilt basting.  Do you have to use safety pins?  No!  I hardly ever use pins anymore since I discovered spray basting.  It’s faster, easier, no pins get in your way while quilting, and more importantly I think the results are better.  This is the process I use to baste almost every quilt I make.  One tip – try to do this when no one else is home.  Your family or room mates may not appreciate you making an entire room off limits.

Step 1 – Sweep the floor. Make sure there’s no gook that will get on your quilt.

Step 2 – Tape the quilt backing down to the floor, back side up.  I heavily recommend using masking tape and not packaging tape as I have here.  Masking tape sticks to the fabric much better than packaging tape, but this was all I had.  Start by putting a piece of tape in each of the centers of the opposite edges, where the black arrows are.  Then tape the centers of the other two edges, where the blue arrows are.  From each piece of tape in the center, pull towards the corner just enough to make the fabric taught and tape.  Do this again on the other side of the center tape.  Keep gently tugging on opposite edges and taping, working your way out to the corners.  You want it as flat as possible and the seems to be straight.  If anything is out of line, retape.  It should be taught like an artist canvas.  If this step isn’t done well, the whole quilt will be affected.  As you can see in the bottom right, I do have a couple puckers.  I was having an especially hard time getting the tape to stick here and repositioned it several times before letting it go.  This area will eventually be cut off anyway.

basting 1b

Step 3 – Spread the batting down on the backing.   Get it in the general right place, centered on the backing, and then start in the center and smooth out towards the edges and corners.  No wrinkles!  Again, you want it as flat and smooth as possible.

basting 2

Step 4 – Pull back part of the batting.  How much depends on the size of the quilt.  For a throw size like this I usually do about a third.  For a baby quilt a half is fine, and a queen would probably be about a quarter.

basting 3

Step 5 – Spray the exposed backing with the basting spray.  Pay extra attention to the edges.  Ivete and I both use 505 Spray and Fix Temporary Fabric Adhesive.   Grab your batting in the middle and pull it towards you while lifting.  Reach as far as you can and use your hands to press the batting smoothly onto the backing while pulling towards yourself.  I like to use the backs of my hands for smoothing.  I do want to press the batting down, but I don’t want to stretch it or catch it on sticky hands.  Be careful of any jewelry that would catch your batting though. Lift a corner of the batting and smooth from the center to the edge.  Gradually work your ways to the corners, making sure there are no wrinkles or bumps.  If you do get a wrinkle, just lift the batting back up and re-smooth.  Also check to make sure seams are lying flat in the direction they’re supposed to go.

basting 4

Step 6 – Go to the opposite side of the quilt and lift up all the batting that is not stuck.  Make sure you’ll be able to reach the batting in the center from the edge.

basting 5

Step 7 – Spray and smooth the next third of the quilt.  Again, starting in the center of the batting, reach forward and smooth the batting towards you.  Your other hand is lifting the batting so that it doesn’t stick to the backing where you don’t want it to.  Work you way from the center to the outer edges until you’ve smoothed and pressed the entire sprayed area.

basting 6

Step 8 – Spray and smooth the last third of the quilt, just as you did for the first two thirds.

basting 7

Step 9 – Lay out the top.  Get it generally centered on top of the backing, then go back and make sure it’s entirely flat and straight. Make sure your backing is showing at each edge.

basting 8

Step 10 – Repeat steps 4 through 8 with the top of the quilt.  Start by spraying and smoothing the first third of the top.  This time you’ll be spraying the batting instead of the fabric.

basting 9

Go to the opposite side and spray and smooth the next third…

basting 10

Spray and smooth until the entire top is attached to the batting.  Pull up the tape and double check your edges just in case some are loose.  Re-spray any corners or sides that need it.

basting 11

Step 11 – Mop the floor.  No matter how hard you try, you will get basting spray on floor.  It will probably also be on the bottoms of your socks or feet, so maybe don’t walk outside in your bare feet afterwards.  Just saying.



By the way: If you like the quilt we used for this tutorial, it’s our original quilt pattern, Yuma. You can download the pattern for free!

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55 thoughts on “Gotham Quilts Spray Basting Tutorial

  1. Pam says:

    I only spray baste now. So much easier. A friend mentioned she rolls her top on a pool noodle then rolls it out as she sprays.

  2. Jeanne says:

    I use the 505 spray and love how easy it makes machine quilting. However, I am concerned about how safe it is, especially for baby quilts. Does anyone have any information on whether or not it washes out? When I work with it I wear a mask and spray on a board my husband made. I can do it on the patio outside.

    • Andrea says:

      I am not a scientist, but I am personally sensitive to chemicals and have been using this product for several years with no issues. The MSDS states that the product has no health or environmental hazards if used properly. That being said, we never really know what chemicals are in anything, and most of the chemicals in use today have never even been tested for safety. In my opinion it’s all about limiting exposure. So follow the directions, don’t use it that often, use it in a well ventilated area (outside is great) and wash it off your skin right away. I only baste 4 or 5 times a year, and I don’t get much on my skin, so I don’t see it as a problem. I don’t think I would use it if I were pregnant, but I’ve used it on many baby quilts, as having the spray in the air is when it is most dangerous. But if it’s something that you’re concerned about definitely err on the side of caution and find another way to baste.

      The adhesive probably washes out eventually, but not after the first wash.

  3. Jeanne says:

    Andrea, thanks so much for all the info. I will take all of this into consideration when using it. I did spray some on a piece of fabric and ran it through the wash once. The residue was still there, but kind of disintegrating. I going to run it through again and see how much is left. You are probably correct about it being the most dangerous when it’s airborn. Thanks again.

  4. Hope says:

    Great tutorial. I’m a fan of spray basting too, but find it almost impossible to get the overspray off the floor. I’m trying the spray outside next time.

  5. Melody Lutz says:

    I did this recently on a king and it was so much easier and smoother than ever! It will be my goto method. ..until something better comes along.

  6. Gloria says:

    I prefer using the spray too, but I find the nozzle clogs, and try as I may I cannot free it. I end up throwing the rest of the can away. Any suggestions? Great tutorial by the way

    • Ivete says:

      We’ve never had a nozzle clog (we always use 505 pray), but what we’d try is piercing a hole in the clog with a pin, or maybe removing the nozzle and washing it out (if it comes off). Wiping the nozzle of any extra residue is a good idea if you’re seeing leftover adhesive on it after you’re done basting too… hope this helps!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Gloria, having used spray adhesive for years as a graphic designer, I can tell you that each time you finish using the can, turn it upside down and release spray until it starts blowing just air. You waste a little bit of spray every time you use the can, but it’s better than only getting a one-use spray.
      Guaranteed to work every time.

    • Debra Willis says:

      When you are done, turn the can upside down and spray. It will clear the nozzle for the next use. This technique is used on spray paint. 🙂 Good luck.

    • Elnora says:

      Gloria, after you spray, do you immediately turn the can upside down and spray until no more adhesive comes out? That clears the nozzle. Works for paint, spray starch, etc. also. I hold the can down inside a lined waste basket or in a cardboard box to contain the spray.

  7. Frans says:

    I am a newbie to quilting. I saw Jenny Doan in one of her early videos demo spray basting and that is all I use. I too find it hard to get the residue off so I do it outside whenever possible. I have on occasion used the old school methods of pinning and hand basting when I was out of spray. It was a great excercise to insure I never run out again!

  8. Pam says:

    Excellent job on the tutorial … I will send a link to my students! Once I tried spray basting I too never looked back. Not only does it hold the quilt layers together better, you don’t have to constantly stop when quilting to remove pins. One refinement … I am careful to fold the quilt top back on itself so the wrong side is up. That way, there’s no over spray on the front of the quilt top. I spray baste on tables out in the garage so there’s plenty of fresh air and … bonus … I don’t care about over spray on the floor. According to the label, 505 is pH neutral and non-toxic … not that I always believe labels but I have come to trust this product after years of use. Thank you!

  9. LaurelleC says:

    Great Tutorial. I also through trial and error and reading a million tutorials do my quilts exactly the same as you. (so we must have found the best way! lol )I am a spray baste junkie! One other tip that I have recently discovered is ironing the back and front of the quilt after the spray baste is finished. It sets the spray and makes the it stick even better. I will usually Iron the front while it is still taped to the table or floor (doesn’t seem to harm them at all ) and then untape, flip the whole quilt over and iron the back from the center out to the edges. I really think it sets the three layers together. I have tried pinning quilts but find the fabric moves. So went back to spraying. 🙂

  10. Katie says:

    Thanks so much for tutorial, this is pushing me towards spray basting ! Right now I pin and it is not fun!!! I love this advices d the photos are great!!!

  11. Jen @ Faith and Fabric says:

    Really great tutorial…I spray baste as well as pin to help hold things in place. Admitting I’ve always struggled with keeping the layers smooth – brilliant on taping it to the floor. Can’t wait to try that technique!

    • Andrea says:

      It absolutely will! I have a quilt I basted over 2 years ago and then only partially quilted that is still stuck as well as it was on day one. As long as you don’t pull the fabric off the batting yourself, it won’t come off on its own.

  12. Gail says:

    I use this method but I found a huge piece of felt at Walmart and I lay that down on the floor first and that eliminated the taping to the floor. Then just layer my quilt on that. Works great for me.

  13. Leslie Eno says:

    I tape down a white flannel sheet on the floor and then lay down the back, batting, and top, and smooh put spray as described. The flannel sheet catches the overspray. Then it just goes in the wash.

  14. Debby H says:

    I have been quilting for about 2 years now and have used spray on every quilt. Most have been lap sized quilts so I had no problems handling it myself. My current project is queen sized, so enlisted my husband to pull back one side of the fabric and batting while I sprayed and smoothed. Really pleased how flat this one lays.

  15. Donna Makovec says:

    Love spray basting!! That is all I use. One tip I have discovered, is after spraying, I fold over the extra over itself on the edges. It keeps everything else from sticking to it, as well as it keeps your fabric from sticking while you quilt!!??

  16. P. Brooks says:

    I have trouble being on my knees and a table large enough isn’t available. I have a large wall in the basement that is drywalled. I put a cover on the wall just inside and outside the quilt size area. I put a drop sheey on the floor and do your spray process standing up. I have had great success with this method . This is an unfinished wall so no problems with thumb tacks.holding layers taunt.

    • Ivete says:

      We haven’t had any issue getting a needle through our quilts. We mostly do machine quilting (including complicated free motion quilting) and we haven’t had any problems. And on two recent quilts that were spray basted with 505 we did hand quilting with no problems too.

  17. Aggie says:

    I used to crawl around on the floor taping the backing on the floor and putting up to 300 pins in to hold it all together. I’d put a big towel folded so my knees would be cushioned, but it was really tiring . I found a you tube on a spray basting wall. My husband made me one in our garage. I’ve used it ever since. What used to take me hours to crawl on the floor to baste my quilt ,now only takes me about 20 minutes to hang on the wall and spray baste it together! And NO MORE CRAWLING ON THE FLOOR! 🙂

    • Faye says:

      Aggie, could you please explain how your husband made an extra wall for you? I don’t have floor space or existing wall space large enough to lay out quilts. Maybe a new wall is the answer. Thanks!

    • Sandy says:

      I never thought of hanging it on the wall to baste. I’ve been struggling as I get older to crawl around on the floor. This is how I will do the next quilt. Thank you for this great idea!

  18. Kaholly says:

    I do like your quilt and did download the pattern. Thanks a bunch! I baste just like you, but I do it on the deck outside and use pushpins instead of tape. In the winter, I just make tops and quilt them in the summer. I’m a snowbird and my quilting machine is only available during the summer months.

  19. Elnora says:

    Thanks for this great tutorial! I love to spray baste! I use our garage floor, which has a painted urethane coating, and I steam clean the floor first. Thank goodness for knee pads. Lol.

  20. Gerri says:

    I place a flannel backed table cloth ( the kind you use for picnic tables) on the floor so the spray won’t get on the floor ! I tape it to the floor like in your tutorial .

    • Ivete says:

      Nope, you don’t need to wash them afterwards. We don’t wash most of the quilts we make as shop samples and they are all doing great.

  21. Karen says:

    This would be a great way to spray baste IF I could get down on the floor. As an older quilter (late 60’s) I can no longer get down on the floor. 😒

    • Judith says:

      If you use the pool noodle method to wrap your three layers and then unroll them bit by bit using the spray adhesive to baste, you can do this on a table top easily. No need to get on the floor. I use this method because I am 70+ and don’t like working on the floor.

  22. Donna says:

    I’ve been pin basting for years. I’m tired of crawling around on the floor, so I am going to spray baste my next quilt. Does anyone starch the top and back before spraying? Or after? Or never? thank you

    • Ivete says:

      I don’t starch the top or back but sometimes starch fabrics before piecing, depending on the design. I haven’t had any issue with starched fabrics and spray basting.

  23. Angi says:

    I’vehad spray mark my fabric with spots so I only spray the batting but then press it this way. Unfortunately that means I do one side then flip to do the other. I never get pins as smooth or taut as I do spray. I love it.

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