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Spray Basting Tutorial

This post was originally written on June 30, 2015.

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 roommates 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 seams 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.

Backing taped to floor

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.

Batting sprayed down

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 batting down

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.

Smoothing down batting

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.

Spray basting batting

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.

Spray basting batting

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

Spray basting batting

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.

Lay out quilt top

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.

Spray baste quilt top

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

Spray baste quilt top

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.

Finish spray basting top

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!

By Gotham Quilts

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