Saturday 19 September 2015

The Woe of Basting

Now that I'm finally making progress on my WIPs, there's another issue to face:
to baste or not to baste?
Frankly, of the whole process, basting is the only bit about quilting that I hate. It's the main reason my WIP pile is so big. I often leave quilts behind and move onto another project when I have to make a decision about whether or how to baste them.

I have basted several of my quilts using the 2 plank method and it does work - but it's tedious and I find it tiring. My planks are 5 inches wide and laminated wooden board - this makes them heavier than usual. I found them in my local hardware store, they're actually door frames. They work well to baste evenly, but are fatiguing -especially on lager quilts.

Lately I've found that most long arm quilters don't bother with a basting service as it's too much hassle for them. This is bad news for me as I really don't know how many extra quilts I have in me to baste by myself.

A few people have asked me how much I paid to baste Oma, I actually basted Oma's Blues myself. Normally, I pay from AU $80-$150 to baste a quilt. It depends on whether I buy my batting with them there or bring my own. I personally like Tucany Collection which can be silk or wool and comes rolled up in a package. I get the King size and it's imported from the USA. Most long arm quilters don't like me bringing my own batting because it's folded - which creates issues. They prefer their own batting as it's usually on larger rolls and comes off flatter and straighter - which means fewer issues. I completely understand where they are coming from, but I'm fussy and usually prefer my own selection to what's on offer.

Right now, with so many quilts to baste, I'm wondering how to get it all done. My preference is to have my tops basted with 1 inch horizontal lines. Most quilters prefer between 2 -4 inches apart. I like it closer as it means less movement. Obviously when I baste myself, I can't get it this precise.

This brings me back to considering not completing my quilts, but leaving many of them at the 'finished top' stage. If I was to baste all the quilts I could feasibly get ready for basting from my WIP pile right now, I'd be up for a thousand dollars in basting costs.

This means I'm going to have to prioritize which quilts I actually complete and which stay as tops alone. In an ideal world, there'd be a 'community long arm machine' somewhere out there I could rent by the day and that way I could just baste my heart out and get my WIPs done.

For now, I'll just pace myself and stick with finishing what I can.

How do you tackle basting?


  1. hmm - sounds like you need a 3 roller hand quilting frame like I have! no basting required :)

  2. I understand your concern completely. I wish I could have some quilt my quilts but I cannot afford it. I do have a dear friend who will quilt for me, once a year and then I give her a gift card. She will not take money from me.

  3. imuse the same method you do, but I use 1"x2" MDF molding. If you go to my site ( I have a full tutorial to make it a little easier. I also have varying size boards ranging 3ft to 6ft long pairs.

  4. Hi, Esther. Beautiful blue quilt you're showing. I know this sounds terrible, but I gave up on basting a long time ago and just use safety pins. There are only 24 hours in a day, after all! Good luck in finding a suitable solution for your work.
    best, nadia

  5. I feel your pain! I hate basting and it seems that no matter how close I baste, there is still shifting. I love to have quilts basted by a longarmer, but it's so painful to pay so much for something you are just going to tear out. Renting a machine (my LQS has a machine for rent) is a great idea, and I may check into taking advantage of that. Good luck on those quilt tops!

  6. I hate basting also but I didn't realize how many of us there is out with this problem. I have thought of the 3 roller hand quilting frame and use it just to baste my quilts but it takes up so much room and I don't want to quilt on it as I like to take my quilts with me to the living room or out doors. I will check out using the 1x2 and see how that works. Thanks for writing on this subject. I too have a lot of tops in need of basting.

  7. This is my stumbling block also. I took a class with Cyndi Needham and she shows one how to baste - I use pins. So after watching her do it. I got a piece of heavy cardboard that covers my entire dining table. It's 52 by 64. Got it from a refrigerator box. I lay that on my table and put the backing on it so that it holds over a quarter of it. I then pin two sides and lightly stretch the other two sides so the back it taut but not too tight. I then layer the batting over it and then the top leaving about an inch or two around two sides. It would be all four if the quilt is that size. I place the other parts of the quilt on chairs so they won't drag or pull. I then lay the top on the two pieces and smooth it out so that the batting and backing are showing two inches around. I then start pinning from the center and go to the edges. Lastly I pin the edges. I then unpin the back and pull the quilt so that another section can be done. When done I flip the quilt over and run my hands over the top to see if any pleats form. Usually, if there are any, it's at the edge and they are easily fixed. This works for me and pinning right into the cardboard removes the problems of using tape. I hope you find a solution, Esther - your tops are so beautiful, they deserved to be showcased.

  8. Almost all the quilt stores in the States that sell long arms also rent them by the hour. Usually you have to take a short class first in how to load and run the machine. Is this not the case where you are? I want to buy a Handi-quilter, but first I'm going to quilt a few quilts on one at the store where I'll buy it from.

  9. I'm so happy to know you have a "Stash" of flimsies too! My daughter drives me crazy because I don't quilt them all, let alone baste them. I keep telling her it's her inheritance. LOL


Thank you so much for commenting. I moderate comments to block spam so don't worry if your comment doesn't appear instantly.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...