Those five little words seem to be the last sentence in just about every quilt pattern instruction sheet, yet this part of the process might take longer to accomplish than all the previous steps in the pattern! Sometimes things really are easier said than done. So, I thought today I'd share some tips that I've learned over the years that might help you with this arduous task. Well, at least with the 'layer' part!
First of all, you need to begin with a very straight, squared up and on grain backing. The best way to do that is to tear your backing on all four sides. Or, you could leave the selvages on the two lengthwise sides and only tear the two crosswise sides. In the sample above you can see that I needed to sew a seam in my backing because my quilt was wider than the width of fabric. By the way, your backing should extend about 3" beyond your quilt top on all four sides. You can achieve this by adding 6" to the finished length and width of your quilt top. For example: if your quilt top is 50" x 50", make your backing 56" x 56". (If you're making your backing for a long arm quilter, typically they will ask you to add 8".)
Using masking or painter's tape, tape the two lengthwise sides (opposite from each other) to a smooth surface. Make sure your backing is wrong side up. I'm using my hardwood floor, but you could use a table. Tape them taught, but don't stretch the fabric. Then, tape the two crosswise sides. (See above photo.) You can gently tug out any loose fabric areas, but don't stretch here, either. If you skip the tape, you will most likely experience pleats and puckers on the back side of your quilt!
The next step is to smooth your batting on the backing fabric. Batting typically doesn't have a grain. Your backing should extend about 2" beyond your quilt top on all four sides.
Roll, or fold up your quilt top as shown above. Lay a ruler on the edge of the quilt, with the 3" line on the edge of the backing. Place the quilt top on the batting, aligning the edge right next to the ruler. If you have more than a 3" extension, that's ok, just make sure you use a ruler, as pictured, to help keep your quilt top and backing straight.
Unroll your quilt, smoothing as you go. Want this pattern?? Watch for next Tuesday's post!
Time to baste. There are several basting methods, but I prefer pin basting because it's a pretty fast process. Slip a small rotary cutting mat underneath the backing to pin into and protect your floor or table. Place a safety pin about every 5-8" apart. Try to avoid areas where you'll be placing quilting stitches. If I plan to stitch in the ditch, for example, I avoid placing pins in the seams. Remove pins as you quilt.
After pinning, untape your quilt from the floor. Now you can 'quilt as desired'! Maybe we'll cover that in another post! Thanks for visiting and God bless,