Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Quilt Basting: Table and long pins

I love piecing, hate basting and I know I am not alone.  I live in a small house, there is not sufficient floor space for a quilt beyond single size and I struggle even at that.  My arms and hands can't cope with all the safety pins- strain and RSI and although spray basting with 505 is good for small quilts it is not manageable for bigger quilts.  I had been tempted by a Kwik Klip but I still find fastening the pins a strain and it was going to cost a lot to buy a Klip tool and pin grips to save my fingers.  I read Blair Stocker's table basting method and thought I would give it a try.  The photos are all taken using Instagram  as it was a dark weekend!
My table is 32" x 45" so pretty small.  The quilt top is 72" square.  I had no clamps and I will buy some for next time- I used weights at the edges to hold the quilt backing whilst I added batting and the top.  I used 120 long (54mm) straight flower top pins (Milwards) (I needed more like 180-200) and a few safety pins for the edge.  The 6mm craft foam was from ebay, cost around £3 and it makes sufficient covers for more pins than I had.  I pressed and lightly starched my quilt back and top with Earth Friendly starch.  The quilt design was chalked on with a Chakoner- a handy Japanese fabric marker which makes a sharp line and comes off easily, I found mine on Etsy. 
The backing material did slip and slide, clamps would've helped and I need to find some.  Key to getting the layers to line up is to mark the centre of the table and all three layers- backing/batting/quilt top.  I taped a small button to the centre of the table and it was very helpful as a reference point.
I cut the foam into ⅝" wide strips and cut them to almost 1" long pieces- any shorter and the pin ends risk coming through.  I bent the pins slightly and they were easy to push throughout the layers.  I basted around 4" apart and they did hold the layers securely.  Some ends do come off as the quilt is moved around so you have to watch out for sharp points and stray pins.  Hand strain is a lot less with straight pins and if you need to move them around they are quick and easy to move.  It's not perfect and a bigger table would help but it worked well.  Has anyone used the same or a similar method?
sib blog

15 comments:

  1. I use a quilt frame to baste my quilts but occasionally pin one on the countertop or table for a small quilt or take it to church and us the big tables. I always baste using straight pins I like to live dangerously there have been very few times that I have been poked or shed blood. good luck

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  2. I use basically the same technique, only with a folding table and binder clips you can get at the office supply store. Here's a link from my old blog: http://becky-beckysblabber.blogspot.com/2010/11/spare-your-knees-alternative-way-to.html

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  3. I've only ever basted one quilt... Never again!....I glue everything together... Never had a problem even with the largest quilts....but there again I'm just lazy.

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  4. that's really interesting - I may have to give it a go

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  5. I love the idea of the foam pin covers! I use a similar technique for layering but I fold my backing fabric in quarters (wrong sides together) and press the folds, the same with the wadding (right sides together; no need to press, I just lay it on the floor and walk up and down the folds!) and then the top (right sides together). If I'm tacking on a table then I mark the centre of each side of the table (tape a cotton bud/pin/cocktail stick to the table top) and then line up the folds of the backing and unfold it and then do the same with the wadding and the top - you get a top that's centred on the wadding and backing and you can just tack/pin a section at a time and then slide it over. If the quilt is small enough I tape the backing fabric to the edge/underneath of the table but if it's too big then I find that the weight of the fabric is enough to hold it in place (or I use a set of giant pegs I got from Lakeland). I use the same folding method if I'm layering on the floor but I can tape all the way round the backing (apart from over the corners) to stop it shifting. Hope this makes sense: my brain isn't working well today!

    P.S. I can't wait to see this quilt in full!

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  6. Hi Kerry! I have the same difficulty and with dogs can't put anything on the floor as there is always some hairs. I baste on the table. Fortunately hand quilting is forgiving even the layers are not so tight. Your quilt looks beautiful and exciting design! x Teje

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  7. Oh my goodness! I am thankful we have a conservatory floor big enough to spray on - like th sound of Helen's folding method though x

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  8. I used my kitchen table to baste my Swoon quilt recently - I used clamps and my curved safety pins. Overall I was happy enough with it - I need a bit of practice, but I have the same space issues you do, and this is a good compromise, I'll definitely use it again. Details here: http://fairyfacedesigns.blogspot.ie/2013/11/swooning-again.html

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  9. I feel your pain about not having sufficient floor space to baste. I only have a small table too and may give this a try. The problem is my table is veneered and I'm not sure how the surface and pins would cope. I have visions of tonnes of scratches and irreparable damage.

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  10. That sounds like something akin to the Chinese water torture! I'm rather glad I got my loft floored now, for its basting space above its storage space!

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  11. Loathe basting!! Glad this works for you.

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  12. I do mine this way and use a small table too. I bought some tablecloth clips from Dunelm to keep the backing taut but they were horrible and baggy- I reckon big bulldog clips would work better.

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  13. I have a sheet of thin MDF that is a bit bigger than my kitchen table. I don't have to worry about the pins scratching the table and as it over hangs the edge, I can use clothes pegs to hold the fabric layers in place (the soft grip pegs from Lakeland are particularly good).

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  14. very clever! I still use safety pins. My house is pretty small but my table has leaves so I can make it bigger and that helps. If I lay a quilt on the floor I've got kitties to contend with ~ anything on the floor is like a kitty magnet!

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  15. I go and visit my mother - big wooden floor in one room. I have spray basted in my studio, but (a) I nearly fumigated myself and (b) the carpet has never quite recovered from the glue.

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